Sunday, 31 July 2011

Picture of the Day

Bales of haylage, which is damper than hay but not as wet as silage,
in an Ormsaigbeg field.

Kilchoan FC v A World FC

Kilchoan FC yesterday took on a team from The World, which boasted players from as far away as Hong Kong, Holland and Glasgow. The visiting team started a little short of players, so some Kilchoan members swapped sides - and, after half time, swapped back, much to the confusion of some of the watchers.

Early pressure from The World foundered against some spectacular saves by Justin Cameron who had returned to his usual night-before training regime following the Coll debacle.

The scoring for Kilchoan was opened by Richard van de Peer....

....followed almost immediately by a goal from Callum MacPhail. These were the start of a feast of goals for Kilchoan, with The World only clawing one back, from a penalty, before half time.

For most of the half, the play was firmly up The World's end of the pitch. The balance began to shift a little after half time, when The World brought on some of their younger players, most of whom taught the adults on both teams a thing or two about how to play good football. Despite this, Kilchoan continued to score, with Callum netting his hat trick to make it 7-1, after which Danny Anderson from distant Acharacle made it 7-2.

The final score, in front of a capacity crowd of over 150 who thoroughly enjoyed a good game and beautiful weather, was 10-2. At least, after this, Kilchoan can once again hold its head high in the international footballing world.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Kilchoan Pram Race - Pictures

Youngest competitors, Katie Carmichael and Ellie Walker, storm past The Ferry Stores, showing the older competitors how the race should be run.

Others, too excited about being offered a drink, momentarily lost the plot, with near-catastrophic results. Morag McNicol, pushing, Jane McNicol, falling.

Emperor Chris Gane takes the applause at the end of the race while slave and wife Amanda does all the hard work - nothing new there. These two won the laurels for the oldest competitors.

Race winners Lauren and Angus Gane show off their mean machine as they take the tape at the end of the race.

Winners of the Best Fancy Dress award Hazel MacLeod (pushing) and Karen MacFarlane (enjoying) come up to the finishing line.

A race for the finish between Geoff Campbell and Dave Burgess (right) who won Best Pram award, and Jamie Santus and Richard van de Peer, who beat them to the line.

Some £500 was collected towards repairs to the Kilchoan Jetty. Alasdair MacColl, WAJA's Chairman, expressed his sincere thanks to the competitors, spectators and, in particular, to race organisers Cliff Isherwood and Richard O'Connor.

Full results are here.

The Diary has pictures of almost all competitors at the start of the race - too many to publish. If anyone would like to see theirs, email

Picture of the Day

Sunrise, 4.50am yesterday

Many thanks to Kilchoan Early Bird
for the picture

Friday, 29 July 2011

Kilchoan Pram Race 2011

Contestants gather at the top of Ormsaigbeg
ready for the event

Results and more tomorrow

Ardnamurchan Transitions Project - 1

This is the sixth summer in succession that archaeologists from Scotland and England have been coming up to West Ardnamurchan to carry out excavations on sites around Swordle Bay (pictured) on our beautiful north coast. The farm is on Ardnamurchan Estate property, and close to one of their letting properties, the Swordle Bay House, details here.

Called the Ardnamurchan Transitions Project because it looks specifically at times of change in the area, such as from Mesolithic to Neolithic and Bronze to Iron Age, the finds this year have been exceptional. Work has concentrated on Mesolithic, Neolithic and Viking sites around the Bay House, on 18th and 19th century sites below Coldstream Cottage, and, most recently, on an Iron Age promontory fort to the west of Swordle.

One of the features of the project is the way that it has drawn in a range of skills from different backgrounds - from Newcastle, Durham and Manchester Universities, from Archaeology Scotland, and from a private company, CFA Archaeology Ltd, based in Edinburgh. More importantly, their track record of meticulous work over recent years has meant that Historic Scotland, which controls digging on such key sites, has allowed them to work on more and more important areas, such as right into the centre of the chambered cairn at Swordle (picture above).

Their season ends on Saturday. The dig was organised this year by four co-directors, Ollie Harris from Newcastle University, Helena Gray from CFA, Phil Richardson from Archaeology Scotland, and Hannah Cobb from Manchester University. For much of the time they were assisted by some 40 staff, students and volunteers, a major logistical exercise. Other than on their open day, when they had almost an inch of rain, they have been very fortunate with the weather.

Much of the material they have found this year has been taken back to university departments for analysis, age-dating and, in the case of the most important finds, careful conservation, all of which costs money. As a result, full details of their many exciting finds won't be available until the New Year. But The Diary and the many other local people who have turned up at the sites over the past three weeks have been given generous access to this summer's excavations, some details of which follow over the next few days.

A map of the Swordle Area is here.

Rosie Curtis meets Scottish Cabinet

If you're interested in our battle to save our out-of-hours 999 medical cover, please read important news report here.

Picture of the Day

The township of Portuairk, centre of the known universe,
from the summit of Meall an Tarmachain.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Kilchoan Fishermen

Justin Cameron works the Harvester out of Kilchoan Bay. He's a full-time fisherman, with some 650 creels, and his main catch is prawns. The creels cost him about £23 each; with a bit of luck, they may last up to 10 years, but he can lose a whole fleet of 50 in one go in a storm or if a trawler catches them - something the less friendly skippers do deliberately. Where he's using the creels also affects their working life. If he's setting them on hard ground, that is, a rocky bottom, where he's likely to catch velvet crabs, their lifetime will be reduced.

Titch MacLachlan, with his Sylvia T, supports a young family from what he earns from the sea. The new creels he's seen here tying to a line to make a 'fleet' have smaller eyes - that is, the holes through which the shellfish enter - which both deters the brown crabs which damage the creels and makes it more difficult for the prawns to escape once they're inside. Titch will set his fleets along the edge of rough ground, where the prawns tend to collect or, if he wants to catch larger ones and is willing to risk his creels, he'll set them on hard ground. For fishermen like Titch and Justin, setting them out on the flat mud or sand areas isn't a good idea as this is where the trawlers work.

Titch's creels are baited with herring which he buys off the vans which collect his catch. He uses fresh herring in summer, even though the price has jumped from £13 to £17 per box, and salted herring in winter. Normally, he'll lift each fleet of creels daily, but at this time of year he's allowing them to lie longer, for as many as three days.

Here's a prawn's eye view of a tasty herring:

The Diary is full of admiration for these two young businessmen. Theirs is a hard profession, threatened as much by the minefield of constantly-changing legislation that surrounds it as foul weather, marauding trawlers, changing stocks, and dangerous work. They are upholding a long tradition of fishing off Ardnamurchan's coasts, so their enterprise deserves to be encouraged.

Picture of the Day

Traffic calming measures,

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Picture of the Day

Camas nan Geall,
the Bay of Strangers

A Holiday at Ockle

From Paul Howes

I have been a visitor to this idyllic part of Scotland for about seven years staying at Sue Cameron's cottages at Ockle (website here). This picture shows the Ockle Burn just below the bridge.

We did a walk to Beinn Bhreac last time. From Ockle SE to ruin at Grid NM 587672, then NE past Lochan Clach na Boiteig up to the top, with fantastic views of Cuillins, Rhum, Eigg, and Moidart, then back north to join the Gortenfern path at Grid NM 576705.

This picture and the one above were taken from Ockle looking north towards the Isle of Muck.

I'm still trying to get a close up shot of sea and/or golden eagle, not easy. The one above is a sea eagle.
We're back up from southern softie land in September - we can't wait.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Picture of the Day

A red deer hind grazes in the valley
of the Allt an Doire Dharaich

A Sense of Wonder

From Trevor Potts

One of the delights of running a campsite is the variety of people one meets from all walks of life. The vast majority of the campers come here because of the pleasures of simply being in the outdoors. What gives me the greatest pleasure at this time of the year is the children, and their simple enthusiasm to explore the new found environment into which their parents have brought them.

There's a polite tap, tap on the office door and a couple of children walk in with a rock or fossil off the beach, or in this case a dragonfly, and they ask me to identify it. I usually point them in the direction of the Study Centre bookshelf and ask them to see if they can find it in one of the books. In this case they came back with the dragonfly and a slip of paper with the name written on it - priceless.

The dragonfly the girls found was a golden ringed dragonfly. More about it here.

Trevor Potts runs the award-winning Ardnamurchan Campsite, website here.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Picture of the Day

Lion's Mane Jellyfish

This is the Lion's Mane jellyfish, Cyanea capillata, picture taken by The Diary from a kayak using an underwater camera. They have a reputation for a nasty sting, but some sources, such as this one, state that the sting can be innocuous for most people. By our standards, this was a fairly large specimen, the bell being about a foot across, but specimens have been reported which measured 8 feet across. It was found in one of the small bays along the Ormsaigbeg coast, and seemed to be trying to swim away from the shore.

Another one a short distance away was being washed up onto a shingle beach. It had been turned upside down to show a mass of brown tentacles, but it had lost the long, streaming tentacles that normally hang below it. These are typically white and a few feet in length - kayakers ship them on their paddles so they run down the shaft to sting their hands.

So far this year we've seen hardly any of the small, mauve jellyfish that are normally so common, and rather more of the Lion's Mane - in the short time we were out yesterday we saw four.

More details of the Lion's Mane here, and advice on how to deal with jellyfish stings is here.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Ardnamurchan Holiday

From John, Teresa, Pat & Peter

We had a wonderful holiday at Kilchoan recently and can't wait to return. Here's a couple of shots of Sanna beach at sunset taken on 12th July 2011.

Many thanks to everyone at Kilchoan and the Ardnamurchan peninsula for a memorable holiday.

The Diary adds: Many thanks to the Rowell family for the pictures.
We look forward to seeing you again as soon as possible.

More Pictures of Sports Day

The Tug-'o-War, in which the home team beat the Rest of the World 2-1

The Eyes of Experience

Many thanks to Ben McKeown for the pictures

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Picture of the Day

Making hay in the field below Meall mo Chridhe

Sports Day

Sports Day is one of the highlights of West Ardnamurchan's year, and the caption on the bouncy castle just about summed up the atmosphere. A bigger crowd than ever turned out - by mid-afternoon, the gate had already taken more than it had last year, and that was a bumper year.

As always, the day started at 9.30 with the stock judging, which also seemed to draw more entries than last year. Angus John again won the top prize.

If it's all a tale of improvement year over year, the produce competition proved the point. Amongst several displays which would easily have won a couple of years ago, this one, from the Community Garden, was a well-deserved winner.

But the main event was the children's races. For years, West Ardnamurchan seems to have bred more girls than boys, so this race was the most crowded. So it was...

....on your marks.....


Ascot has nothing on the fashion to be seen around the field, but the centre of attention had to be a man in an Irish kilt working in the food tent.

Top prize, however, goes the small army of people who worked so hard to make the day a success - those who worked in the all-day food tent, the bar and the disco, controlling the racing, judging, taking money at the gate, arranging the market stalls and marquees, and so on.

Above all, however, many thanks to Gus MacLean and the committee who organised the whole thing, down to such meticulous details as the weather.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Picture of the Day

A Common Lizard, Zootoca vivipara,
sunbathing on a dry-stone wall.

Evolution of a Croft House

Sanna (Norse, sandr, sand, and ey, island) is a jewel of a village, situated on the north-west coast of Ardnamurchan and renowned amongst visitors for its wonderful white-sand beaches and miles and miles of uninterrupted walking. It was once a busy crofting village, the place where Alasdair Maclean, who wrote Night Falls on Ardnamurchan, lived.

A few years ago, with crofting still in decline, it faced a crisis when its resident population fell to one, the fear being that it would become a village of sheep and summer holiday-makers. It has since recovered, its year-round numbers rising to nine, though these only occupy four of its houses, while crofting activity has begun to show some increase.

For some years, one of Sanna's old croft houses stood derelict. It's visible in the right foreground of the above picture, which shows the houses of northern Sanna, with the Sanna burn beyond.

The original house was a typical croft house, with a kitchen/living room at one end, a parlour at the other, each warmed by open fires, and a small lobby between. The porch at the front - so necessary in Sanna's exposed environment - and the extension at this end would have been added later.

In 2009 the house had new owners who set about a complete refurbishment of the property. This picture was taken in January 2010.

By October that year, building work was well advanced....

....and this is the completed project, the picture taken in April 2011.