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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

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Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 10th June 2000
Issue No 183

Our Million Pound Hero

The Wallace Monument has become a 1million a year business. Seven years ago it was taking 40,000 at the turnstyles but it has become a magnet for tourists since William Wallace was propelled to international fame by Mel Gibson's Oscar winning Braveheart movie.

The profile of the monument has also been boosted by the recent completion of a project to clean and restore the Hall of Heroes which features 16 busts of some of Scotland's greatest historical figures. Among those are Robert the Bruce, John Knox, Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott. Visitor numbers at the monument are now standing at around 200,000 per year making it one of Scotland's biggest attractions. The introduction of two busy gift shops also helped propel the 225ft tower at Stirling - the largest monument to a single person anywhere in the UK - to a record turnover. Deputy tourism minister Alasdair Morrison praised the monument as "an example of Scottish tourism at its best". The monument, which contains Wallace's two handed broadsword, was built on the Abbey Craig overlooking the site of the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297. John Paterson, chairman of Stirling District Tourism Ltd said: "There is still a lot of interest in the monument with the Braveheart factor. "Now we must continue to invest in improving the quality of the monument and retaining it as a fitting tribute to Scotland's hero."

Looking for a New Owner

A search is on to find a new use for Abertarff House, one of Inverness's oldest buildings, after the National Trust for Scotland announced it was moving out its administrative staff. Although the charity will continue to own and maintain the building in Church Street, it is keen to find a new tenant. The change follows a shake-up in the running of the trust in the Highlands and Islands. Its two regions covering the area are being amalgamated into a new Highlands and Islands Region, and will include such properties as Brodie Castle and Hugh Miller's Cottage, historic properties at Culloden, Glencoe and Glenfinnan, gardens at Inverewe and Arduaine and properties at Torridon and Kintail. The trust's Peggie Gordon said the Oban office would remain, but Abertarff was no longer large enough to accommodate the Inverness operation.

New Map for Inverness

A new scenic map of Inverness was unveiled recently at the point where the High Street and Inglis Street meet. Designed to give a 3D effect of the town centre, detailing buildings, spires and other features, it is hoped it will make it easier for visitors to find their way around. The 40in by 34in full colour map has been produced by Scenic Maps and installed by town centre manager Sharon Mackay. It illustrates the area around the town centre upriver as far as the Ness Islands and Bught Park and will be used to promote Inverness into the 21st century, with information on and photographs of different attractions. Mrs Mackay introduced the idea after seeing a similar map in Pitlochry. She said: "We have all been to towns and not known our way around. My husband and I stopped at Pitlochry and found one of these maps in the centre of the town. Not knowing Pitlochry, we found the scenic map very easy to use, ending up visiting the areas of the town we had not initially planned. "As town centre manager of Inverness, I thought Inverness would benefit from such a map. The map makes it very easy to see how the town is laid out and one can quickly assess what there is to do."

Nairn Museum

A Highland museum, which two years ago was threatened with closure, opened its doors to the public recently after an extensive refurbishment. Nairn Museum has seen visitor numbers rise from 1,000 two years ago to more than 7,000 during an exhibition of Dr Who memorabilia last summer. The museum, founded in 1858 and situated in the Georgian Viewfield House, has now been extensively revamped. The board of trustees had taken a gamble by having an exhibition centred on local history, instead of opting for high earning attractions which it has staged over the past two years. Jenny Rose Miller, the museum manager said the main theme of the exhibition this year was the history of the area. She said: "The biggest success with the numbers is from exhibitions that were previously put on. "But the trust has decided this year to go for local history. All the rooms upstairs have been completely changed. "The other innovation this year is the childrens room in which there are local reference books and others, such as Scottish books." Other new attractions include a Victorian room, which tells the story of the museum's beginnings, a room devoted to burgh history, and the comprehensive Fishertown collection which details the lives of fishing people and their families.

Highland Woodland

Rare remnants of an ancient Highland woodland are being given a new lease of life through an innovative scheme to restore precious native woods. Forest Enterprise has teamed up with charity Trees for Life to carry out crucial conservation work at Scotland's most northerly oakwood at Grudie in Strathbran. Volunteers have been using hand tools to remove all non native conifers from the 200 hectare site, and have improved fencing to ensure the woodland is well protected so young oak trees and native plants can flourish on the forest floor. "These oakwoods provide a haven for a rich variety of wildlife and are among the most scenic woodlands in the north of Scotland, growing in a spectacular location above Loch a'Chuilinn between Garve and Achnasheen," said district forester Jack Mackay.

Prince Wants Honours for Scotland

Prince Charles wants to create an honours system north of the border to boost the monarchy's role in the new devolved Scotland. He believes the royals are becoming irrelevant to the lives of Scots and that a new "Order of Scotland" would help boost their profile. The idea is one of a number of schemes under consideration to make the royal family more visible in Scotland. At the moment the only Scottish honour is the Order of the Thistle. It is a personal gift from the Queen which goes to a handful of Scottish aristocrats. But Charles wants to introduce a new gong to honour ordinary people like firemen and doctors. A senior royal source said: "The honours system is irrelevant in Scotland. "The idea of an order for Scotland has been raised and mooted and it needs to be pushed and encouraged." Other measures being considered by Charles include more royal visits to Edinburgh.

Battle of Glencoe

The Macdonalds, one of whom once declared famously that "Campbells and Hawkers were no' welcome" in his hotel in Glencoe, are uniting to fight the National Trust for Scotland's development plans for the historic glen. Rory MacDonald, owner of the Clachaig Inn in Glencoe from 1962-1980, and Alastair MacDonald, a crofter in the glen for the past 30 years, were prime movers in convening a public protest meeting recently in the village hall. "Concern about "absentee decisions" over land use and Highlanders lives have come to a head in Glencoe," says Rory MacDonald. "The National Trust are proposing radical changes with their plans to build their new Glencoe Visitor Centre at the Inverigan Camp Site - where the first MacDonalds were slain in the infamous 1692 massacre. The relocated premises, the perceived demise of agricultural employment in Glencoe and the granting of permission and funding for a woodland regeneration scheme there, were all issues for discussion at the meeting which was chaired by Fergus Ewing MSP. Alastair MacDonald insists Inverigan is a site of great historical importance. "Yet the Trust intend to desecrate Inverigan for a new visitor centre. They state that Culloden is a sacred place where clansmen were killed, yet in the next breath they appear to be claiming that the Massacre of Glencoe is unimportant. This is an outrage."

Charity Event

Volunteer fundraisers from the Highlands whose efforts have helped save lives were honoured by the Princess Royal last month. Three people from the area who have raised money for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution received gold badges from Princess Anne at the charities Annual Presentation of Awards at the Barbican Centre in London. Katherine Anderson of Lochinver, David Boyd of Islay and Geoff Norris of Arran were all present with an award by the Princess.

Political Roundup

West Highland Line

Red tape and traffic restrictions 600 miles away have put the brake on a West Highland railway project. Now MP David Stewart is seeking talks with transport ministers in a bid to get the scheme back on track. West Highland Railway Heritage Trust has bought a redundant railway turntable, currently located at Marylebone Station in London. But problems have arisen over a giant 100 tonne crane which will lift the massive steel structure from a bridge overlooking the turntable onto lorries. Westminster City Council officials agreed an end of April date for the lifting operation - then realised they did not have the authority. "It means the turntable won't be in place at Fort William until late August and we would have lost almost an entire season," said Mallaig councillor Charlie King, chairman of Highland Council's roads and transport committee.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Dry/bright a.m. Rain spreading from the W. Winds mod/fresh SW-W. Temperature 11c to 17c.
Saturday Night
Rain all areas clearing by evening, but showers in the W. Winds mod/fresh locally strong SW-W. Temperature 07c to 10c.
Persistent rain a.m then a mix of sunshine and showers, some of which heavy/thundery. Winds strengthening.
Wet and windy with widespread risk of heavy rain and showers. Strong SW winds.

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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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