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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

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Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 27th May 2000
Issue No 181

Holyrood Debates Black Cuillins Sell Off

A clan chief's controversial plan to sell Skye's renowned Black Cuillin mountains could be subject to an investigation, it has emerged.

The Scottish Parliament was told the door is not closed on the Scottish Office and the Crown Estate examining the legitimacy of the title held by MacLeod of MacLeod over the mountains. Scottish Depute Justice Minister Angus Mackay told MSPs during a passionate Holyrood debate that Scotland Secretary John Reid and his deputy, Brian Wilson, have asked their officials to discuss with the Crown Estate a "possible basis for further inquiries into the ownership of the Cuillins". The development arose as Ross, Skye and Inverness West Lib Dem MSP, John Farquhar Munro challenged the Crown Estate to look again at whether it has any valid claim to the mountains. Macleod's announcement in March that the Cuillins were on the market for 10million to meet the cost of repairs to his ancestral seat Dunvegan Castle was greeted with uproar. There are fears on the island that the celebrated mountains will be sold to a foreign buyer. But in recent weeks the spotlight has been placed on the issue of whether MacLeod of MacLeod owns the mountains. Mr Munro again questioned the clan chief's claim to the mountains recently, and urged the Crown Estate to help clarify the issue. He told the parliament: "If you have 10million spare then you might be drawn to Skye. "Only in Scotland is it possible for the jewel in the Highlands' crown to be sold to the highest bidder, never mind what the country feels. "I tell you that the people of Skye never imagined that the mountains belonged to one individual." Skye's MSP stressed that the royal charter of 1611 and documents published in 1931 and 1966 all failed to refer to the Cuillin mountain range. He said that if the Crown Estate have any basis for a claim they must then immediately pursue it. "Court action may cost money, but I believe that it would be good use of some of the millions of pounds the Crown Estate have taken from the West Highland salmon farming industry over the years," he said. "For years they have taken, now they can give something back." Labour Highlands and Islands MSP Maureen MacMillan described MacLeod's 10million price tag as an attempt to "extort money out of the public purse". She said: "He should stop playing with people's emotions over these hills. "Macleod of MacLeod has now alienated himself from the people of Skye. He has soiled his own nest." But Conservative Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie McGrigor did not believe that anyone should be told what to do with the land they own, and drew parallels to the situation in Zimbabwe by warning against land seizures. He said: "There are lots of things needing to be done in the Highlands and Islands. "Jobs and livelihoods are what matters to those who live there - not who owns great tracts of rock, peat and heather." Suggestions have been made that the 29th clan chief apply to Highlands and Islands Enterprise or other bodies for funds to repair his castle. The National Trust for Scotland, Highland Council and the John Muir Trust have rejected the 10million asking price, but hinted they were prepared to put together a bid to buy the land for the people of Skye if the figure was lower.

Ghurkas Join the Highlanders

One hundred and twenty Ghurka reinforcements have joined the army regiment The Highlanders in Catterick, North Yorkshire. The Ghurkas, who arrived in April were previously based in Colchester with another Scottish regiment, The Royal Scots. They will serve with The Highlanders for the next two years, both in Catterick and in Edinburgh. The Highlanders, who are currently under strength, welcomed the Ghurkas with a formal parade. A regimental spokesman said: "We are delighted to have the Ghurkas with us. They come with an excellent reputation having served already with a Scottish regiment and we are sure that they will do well here." The Ghurkas will serve initially with The Highlanders in Catterick before deploying to the Falkland Islands in July for five months. Meanwhile The Highlanders are preparing to deploy to Northern Ireland this summer. The Regiment is due to move as a whole to Edinburgh in April 2001.`

Rescue Heroes Honoured

Four Nairn friends who rescued a holidaymaker after his car plunged off the town's harbour last year have received bravery awards from the Royal Humane Society. Ronnie Johnson, Mike Dooley, Carl De Bruin and James Walker leapt to the rescue last September when a Ford Fiesta driven by Peter Holt veered across the road and plunged 15ft into the harbour. The four men, who saw the incident unfold through their sitting room window on Harbour Street, rushed to the scene and found the car on its roof, with the car submerged in water and Mr Holt trapped inside. They dragged the car onto the shore and Mr De Bruin smashed the rear window to allow Mr Holt to escape. Despite his ordeal, Mr Holt from Nottingham was released from Nairns Town and County Hospital the same day following a check up. The four were recommended for the award by Northern Constabulary's Chief Constable, Bill Robertson.

Time Capsule

A time capsule buried recently will allow future generations to get a feel for present day life in Inverness. A document recording the Inverness Caley Thistle football victory against Glasgow Celtic, is among items included in the capsule, to be dug up in 100 years. The capsule is the culmination of a special millennium exhibition at Inverness Museum and Art Gallery recently. Visitors were invited to record their views on the millennium and make suggestions for objects revealing most about present day Inverness. The capsule includes a scale model of Nessie, an old 1 note, and the handprint of a child. Future generations will be able to read local newspapers look at home shopping catalogues and read letters written by children describing their lives and hopes for the future. The capsule was buried at Ness Islands and a tree was planted over the site to mark the location for future generations.

Conservation Body in Inverness

A leading conservation group is to establish a northern outpost in Inverness. The Scottish Wildlife Trust, best known for its heavy involvement in the community buy out on the Isle of Eigg, is setting up an office in Inverness for the first time following major restructuring. Chief executive Steve Sankey said the plans tied in with the importance placed on the northern Highlands by the SWT, which is expected to locate upwards of 10 members of staff in the Inverness office. The shakeup of the charitable organisation follows a decision to regionalise its efforts. New offices have already been set up in Glasgow and Stirling and the Inverness one should follow in a matter of months. The Trust is responsible for conserving and enhancing the wildlife of Scotland.

Noah's Ark For Sale

A couple who have put their Highland home up for sale are looking for offers from animal lovers. For anyone interested in buying the bungalow will also be responsible for looking after five llamas, chipmunks, raccoons, pot-bellied pigs, goats, parrots and pheasants. Brian and Mary Gough, who run a bed and breakfast business from the bungalow in Berriedale, Sutherland have built up the twelve and a half acre animal farm over the years. It had attracted national publicity and there is huge demand for guided tours around it. But because of ill health, they have now reluctantly decided to take a back seat and put both their business and farm up for sale privately. The couple, who are originally from Bristol, used to breed llamas and at one point had 15. "The llamas attracted a lot of interest from locals and guests who stayed with us so we decided to get more animals and it has built up over the years," said Mrs Gough. "But it takes a lot of work to look after the animals and it has become too much for us, together with the B&B business and also with the market research work that I do." She added: "We are not sure where we are going next but we want to be certain that we sell to people who are animal lovers, we don't want to sell to just anyone."

Porridge With a Punch

Whisky bosses are offering early risers in Scotland the ultimate hair of the dog - porridge laced with whisky for breakfast. Revellers at the recent Spirit of Speyside Whisky festival had the chance to "kick start their day" at whisky breakfasts by one of the area's many distilleries. People who made it to the Glenfarclas distillery in Ballindalloch, Speyside for the breakfast were served with traditional Scots porridge, laced with the world's strongest whisky. Spokeswoman for the festival, Beverly Tricker, said: "The Glenfarclas breakfast certainly gave a kick start to anyone's day and was even an effective hair of the dog for those who may have over indulged at the festival events the night before. "This must be the ultimate example of a full Scottish breakfast."

Charity Event

Staff at an Inverness charity shop had plenty to celebrate recently. The Imperial Cancer Research Fund shop in Drummond Street has achieved a remarkable takings total of 750,000 since opening 13 years ago. A core of 25 volunteers helps run the shop. The shop, opened in September 1987, is also a key focus for this year's Inverness Race for Life event being organised by the Imperial Cancer Research Fund to help boost the fight against the disease.

Political Roundup

Parks Promise

The preservation of some of Scotland's most beautiful countryside must take precedence over the economic development of national parks, it was claimed recently. Transport and Environment Minister Sarah Boyack told MSPs that while she wanted the parks to be successful, commercialisation must not be at the expense of the environment. The first Scottish national park will be established in the summer of 2001 in the Trossachs and Loch Lomond, followed by a second in the Cairngorms.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Some rain in the West a.m. Bright in the East. Locally heavy rain later. Wind light to moderate South Easterly. Temperature 12c to 16c.
Saturday Night
Locally heavy rain. Misty. Winds moderate to strong Easterly. Temperature 8c to 12c.
Sunday
Bands of showers across the region. Bright with sunny spells. Moderate North Westerly winds. Fairly mild.
Monday
Mainly dry. Fairly cloudy with limited sunshine. Light Southerly breeze. Mild temperatures.


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Caledonia



This is Caledonia ( Caley for short ) A Ness-Scape family member and mascot. She is a White German Shepherd. Caley has decided to take over the editing of Nessie's Loch Ness Times, and she's sure she'll make a good job of it. What do you think?

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