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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

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Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 16th September 2000
Issue No197

Sinclairs Gather in Bid to Save Clan Stronghold

Sinclair clanfolk from all over the world gathered in Caithness recently as part of a 1 million appeal to save their clan seat from crumbling into the sea.

The appeal was launched by Malcolm Sinclair, the 20th Earl of Caithness, to preserve the crumbling ruins of Girnigoe Castle, near Wick, and promote it to tourists. More than 200 clansfolk from the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and various parts of the UK gathered at the Halkirk Highland Games in a bid to boost funds. The earl, along with Viscount Thurso, also arranged the gathering as a special event to mark the new millennium. The 15th century clifftop castle, along with the adjoining Castle Sinclair, was recently given by the earl to a preservation trust. The former Tory transport minister said that his main role in life now was to help restore the stronghold which he hopes will become a major visitor attraction. The trust faces a race against time if it is to save the north wall of the castle from crumbling into the sea. The earl said: "It's the best ruin in the North of Scotland. We're lucky it's still there and that we have a chance to see it. It's now up to us to ensure that our children and grandchildren can see it restored to something of its former glory. "Too many historic sites in Caithness have been allowed to disappear and here is one that is saveable." The visitors, who included a 105 strong contingent from the US, had a busy programme of sight seeing, visiting important clan sites and attending social occasions. Lord Thurso said that it was not just rich ex-patriots who had travelled there - a number had saved hard for several years to attend the gathering. He said that the event also gave a significant boost to the flagging local tourist season. Before coming north, clansmen had a reception in the House of Lords with Sir Clive Sinclair, inventor of the C5 bicycle, among those present. A clan banner was displayed at the gathering and Canadian piper, Rory Sinclair, played to greet the coaches carrying the visitors as they arrived at the Ord of Caithness. Plans are now being laid to hold a full scale gathering once every five years , with more informal get togethers being held on a more frequent basis.

Boost for Gaelic Speakers

The upgrading of transmission equipment will allow almost all Scotland's Gaelic speaking population to receive BBC Radio nan Gaidheal, and improve reception in many parts of the country, Scottish Office Minister Brian Wilson announced. The BBC expects that, by next June, Strathspey, North Sutherland and Perth and Kinross should be able to receive the service. Mr Wilson said: "The extension of coverage by Radio nan Gaidheal is an issue that I have supported for a considerable time. "I am pleased , therefore, that BBC Scotland has indicated to the Broadcasting Council for Scotland of Radio nan Gaidheal's transmission area as a key priority and expects the issue to be largely resolved within the next 12 months. "These are all areas in which there is a significant Gaelic presence, and commitment by the education authorities to the promotion of the language. "I have no doubt that access to Radio nan Gaidheal is a necessary facility, as well as a basic right. I am sure the improved service will be welcomed by the expanded Gaelic audience, and the many English speaking listeners, who tune in to enjoy Gaelic music and singing." The 1991 census of population recorded 69,510 people aged three or over as being able to speak, read or write Gaelic.

Cool Kilts

A designer is encouraging young Scots to wear the national dress by producing kilts with special pockets for their mobile phones. After discovering the average sporran is not big enough to hold a phone, Howie Nicholsby, from Edinburgh, designed a new range of kilts, with modern accessories, which he hopes will appeal to fashionable teenagers and twenty somethings. His 21st century kilt range also offers "modern" kilts with pockets for clubbers to carry water bottles and detachable pouches which can be stuck on in the style of combat pants. Mr Nicholsby claims the initial reaction to his contemporary kilts has been "excellent", and denies that he is disrespecting the traditional Highland dress. He said his range, with prices starting at 250, is an attempt to make the garment relevant to the needs of modern living. Mr Nicholsby, whose father Geoffrey runs Taylor Highland Crafts in the Scottish capital's Royal Mile, wear a kilt every day and wants to broaden their appeal to younger generations. He said: "We are trying to drive kilts as a contemporary item of clothing - much as they were in the first place when Highlanders wore them to go running about in. "By putting mobile phone pockets in, it's making them practical for the 21st century." Mr Nicholsby said he was bemused by criticism from rival manufacturers who insist kilts should only be worn traditionally, for special occasions such as weddings and Burns Night. He said: "I was quite surprised. They may be happy just to have them for formal wear, but we want people to wear them for any function. "The kilt industry needs to catch up with fashion and we are at the forefront of this." But Paul Hart, owner of kiltmakers Clan Albanoch, Edinburgh said: "I would certainly be classing a kilt with mobile phone holders as a fashion garment."

Green Future

A scheme has been launched to keep a Highland village litter free and promote it as a tourist destination. Some 10,000 "green bags" made from recycled plastic, will be made available in Nethy Bridge shops for the benefit of tourists and educational purposes. Visitors to the Explore Abernethy Centre, the village information point, will also be able to collect bags which feature artwork of forest wildlife by pupils from Abernethy Primary School. Patricia Eccles, secretary of the Nethy Bridge Tourist Association said: "We hope that the Nethy Green Bag project will encourage everyone to help keep Nethy Bridge and the village walks litter free. "In addition to drawing attention to the problems caused by litter, the bag also promotes village walks and the Nethy Bridge website." She added: "The project is the first of its kind in the district and we hope it will help to portray Nethy Bridge as a top green tourist destination. "We are very grateful to everyone who has supported the project."

Notorious Dukes Estate on Market

A Sutherland sporting estate with links to the most notorious character of the Highland Clearances has gone on the market at an asking price of more than 1.3 million. The 5.200 acre Morvich Estate includes a shooting lodge built in 1812 for the Marquis of Stafford at a time when his staff were evicting thousands of crofters from the traditional clan lands. The Marquis married Elizabeth Gordon and took over her lands which comprised all of the county of Sutherland and was later to become the first Duke of Sutherland. The magnificent nine bedroom Morvich Lodge, set among beautiful gardens two miles from the village of Rogart, was extended late in Queen Victoria's reign. There has been a dwelling on the site of Morvich Lodge since 1512, when the estate belonged to the Kynnard family of Skelbo.

Clan Gathering at Glenfinnan

When the last of a line of seven brothers and sisters of a well known Highland family passed away earlier this year, her scores of nephews and nieces made a pact to hold a summer clan gathering in her memory. Recently, along the famed Road to the Isles, the "Macpherson Cousinathon" took place. Thirty three cousins and forty second cousins got together for a barbecue on the beach near Arisaig. And in the evening, they took over the Glenfinnan House Hotel for a celebratory ceilidh and dinner for their overnight stay. The cousins came from as far away as Australia, with a couple travelling from Europe and several from England. Most had attended the funeral of their aunt, Sally Macpherson in the spring of this year. And they resolved then that they should all meet up at a happier time. One of the oldest cousins, George MacFarlane (63) - whose mother's maiden name was Jessie Macpherson - said, "Ours has always been a close knit family, with most of us having been born and brought up in the Fort William area. "And when Sally, the last link with our three aunts and four uncles, died, we all agreed that we should get together as a second generation to acknowledge the on going Macpherson traditions."

Toll Document Valid says Minister

Transport Minister Sarah Boyack has been taken to task for insisting that the document which licenses Skye Bridge tolls is valid - despite its lack of a signature or date. Ms Boyack has accepted that the statement assigning the rights to collect and charge tolls on the bridge is not probative or self evidencing, but says it is still a legitimate basis for the tolls. The Scottish Executive has dismissed the findings of legal academic Professor Robert Black, who concluded recently that the collection of tolls on the bridge was illegal as the company charging the tolls, Miller Civil Engineering, had no authority in law to do so. Opposition MSP Irene Mc Gugan claims the absence of a signature or the date renders the statement invalid and is seeking a meeting with the Lord Advocate Colin Boyd, on the issue. North east MSP Ms McGugan and Brian Adams asked the Executive for it's response to Professor Black's findings. Ms Boyack told Mr Adams that the assignation statement met the requirements of the Roads (Scotland) Act. She added that submissions to the contrary had been dismissed by the Appeal Court, the High Court of Justiciary last December. To Ms McGugan, Ms Boyack replied: "The statement assigning the rights to charge and collect tolls for the Skye Bridge crossing is valid even though it is not a probative, or self-evidencing document. Ms McGugan, a long standing campaigner against the tolls, later said the minister was taking a self contradictory view and cited cheques and marriage certificates as an example of documents which must be signed and dated to be valid. Ms McGugan said: "I welcome this admission from the minister, which is a breakthrough for those convicted and a useful argument for use in the courts in Strasbourg. But I find it beyond belief that, despite this, Ms Boyack asserts that the document is valid."

Charity Event

A meningitis action group is boosting its profile in a bid to reduce the number of people contracting the killer disease. The Moray Meningitis Support Group says its advice service is now more important than ever. The support group has recently received a boost from a local football club. Sixteen players from the Inverness United youth squad raised 250 after completing the Inverness Fun Run.

Political Roundup

Petrol Prices a Turn Off Say SNP.

The Scottish Executive must match its commitment to attracting more tourists from abroad with an incentive of reducing petrol costs, the Scottish National Party's transport spokesman has claimed. Kenny MacAskill asked parliamentary questions on the number of tourists arriving in Scotland from Europe by car. He also asked if research had been done on any effect which fuel prices had on tourism.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Cloudy/ light rain in W, bright then cloudy in E. Winds light/mod SW. Temperature 14c to 19c.
Saturday Night
Occasional light rain in N, clear later. Winds light SW. Temperature 9c to 11c.
Mainly cloudy with few bright spells. Rain and drizzle increasing. Mod.fresh winds.
Cloudy with bright spells and rain or showers. Light variable winds. Cloudy/showery night, some mist/fog.


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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