Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) has set out its plans for ferry services affected by the essential maintenance work at Lochmaddy Harbour, which are scheduled to take place for one week from November 13.

The linkspan will be closed between the 13th and 19th November and a daily vehicle and passenger service will operate on an amended timetable between Uig and Lochboisdale.

The amended timetable will include a daily service between Uig and Tarbert.

Arrangements will be put in place for foot passengers requiring transport between the ports of Lochmaddy and Lochboisdale and anyone planning to travel by foot should telephone CalMac customer services on 0800 066 5000 on the day prior to travel.

CalMac's Head of Service Delivery North, Robert Morrison, said: "The essential works will cause some unavoidable inconvenience but we have put in place what we believe is the best possible alternative to minimise disruption. Details of the temporary diversion will be advertised extensively and frequently asked questions and the temporary Uig - Lochboisdale timetable can be viewed at www.calmac.co.uk." 

Over 350 students and their friends and families attended this year’s Graduation Ceremony at the Nevis Centre Fort William on Friday 6 October.

Connor Dougan from Broadford received the Springboard Scotland Tourism Award and Heather McNeill, Crofting and Countryside Skills lecturer from Broadford, Isle of Skye Highlands and Islands Students Association received Best Academic Support.

This year over 250 students successfully gained their awards and over 120 of them were able to come to Fort William to celebrate their achievements at every level in the college, right up to degree and postgraduate level and they were accompanied by family, friends and guests representing local and national organisations as well as lecturing and support staff from the College.

Lydia Rohmer, Principal and Chief Executive of West Highland College UHI welcomed all the students and their families to the ceremony and congratulated them on their achievements saying: “We are all extremely proud of all your achievements and delighted that we can share this celebration with you. Just remember, there is no such thing as failure, only new opportunities to succeed in whatever you aspire to do.“

Two students were recognised as exceptional in their achievements. Both students received a certificate and cash award. Kelly Adams and Samanta Milzaraja, both from Fort William, were selected as for higher and further education Students of the Year respectively – more information follows in Background Information. 

A United States poet has won the MacDonald of Sleat poetry prize for the second year in succession.

Deborah Moffat, who began writing Gaelic poetry in 2013, hails from Vermont but now lives in Fife.

The competition which is run by Sabhal Mòr Ostaig was instituted by Sir Ian MacDonald of Sleat in memory of his daughter, Deborah. The competition has a tree related theme each year and this year it was a branch or branches. The Branch of Hope was the title of the poem composed by Deborah and selected by the panel of three judges.

Deborah received her prize from Sir Ian MacDonald at a gathering at the Museum of the Isles at Armadale on Saturday 30 September. Sir Ian MacDonald commented: “I particularly liked Deborah’s poem which also read like a prayer. My daughter, Deborah, would have loved it and understood the feeling and words of hope."

Speaking on behalf of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Principal, Professor Boyd Robertson, said: “This competition is important as it inspires people to write new verse in our language and adds to the body of literature in Gaelic. And it is a felicitous way of renewing memories of a daughter cut off in her prime.”

Deborah's poem can be read below:

A major programme of repair work has been given the go ahead to improve the A82 between Tarbet and Crianlarich.

Bear Scotland say the programme of work is worth almost £900,000.

The project, which includes full replacement of over 400m of crash barrier heavily damaged after an HGV incident in May, will see 12 different road maintenance schemes carried.

Risk assessments determined that day time road closures are required to complete the safe installation of the new barrier due to the geography of the location – the narrow verge, steep overgrown embankment, drop into loch and the need to work on the slope itself to install the foundation for the barrier. 

Teams from BEAR Scotland carried out a full public consultation with the local community, Emergency Services, MSPs, MPs, the Local Authority, local businesses, residents, hauliers, transport operators and other relevant stakeholders to gauge their feedback regarding the proposals.

Officers based in Portree and Kyle of Lochalsh have carried out a four day road safety operation focusing on ensuring vehicles and their drivers are prepared for the dark nights and winter months.

As a result of these proactive patrols over the last weekend 13 drivers were issued with vehicle defect rectification notices requiring them to have lighting and tyre faults repaired.

In addition to this, during these patrols officers charged an 18-year-old local man with driving at 60mph in a 40mph zone in Dunvegan.

In a separate incident a second 18-year-old man was charged with drink driving with a provisional driving licence and carrying passengers in a dangerous manner in Broadford. He will appear in court at a later date.

Constable Alasdair MacKenzie, who took part in the operation, said: "As the dark nights arrive and road conditions are likely to worsen it is vital that road users ensure their vehicles are suitably prepared.

"Take time to check your lights and tyres, ensure fluids are topped up and always drive according to the road conditions.

"It is disappointing that two young men have been dealt with for drink driving and a significant speeding offence during this operation and our patrols will continue to focus on this type of dangerous driving behaviour.

"Anyone with concerns about road safety issues in Skye and Lochalsh should contact a local officer on 101."

After eight days of competitions, performances and festivities, the Royal National Mòd said goodbye to current host, Lochaber.

Scotland’s biggest Gaelic festival has been hailed a huge success, with a record number of participants.

Thousands of Gaels and supporters made their way to the festival to enjoy all that the Mòd has to offer, with somewhere in the region of up to £2.5m expected to have been generated for the local economy.

Officially closing on Saturday 21 October, the final event took place on the streets of Fort William, as the massed choir made its way along the High Street for a final sing-a-long.

Representatives from 2018 host town Dunoon were present for the ceremonial handover from this year’s hosts. The Gaelic festival will return to Dunoon for the eighth time next year, taking place from 12th-20th October next year.

Organised by An Comunn Gàidhealach, the event is the biggest and most important festival of the Gaelic language in the world. This year saw a rise in under 18s competing in traditional singing events and literature events, with at least 200 more entrants than the previous year. The rising interest in the festival and traditional Gaelic culture bodes well for future events and the Mòd’s continued success.

The top prizes this year went to Alasdair MacMhuirich and Rachel in the Gold Medal competition; John Joe MacNeil and Hannah Knight in the Traditional Gold Medal and Ishbel Campbell and Coinneach MacLeod took home the Silver Pendants.

Raasay Ramblers raised £173 for BBC Children In Need on Saturday 21 October.

The Countryfile Ramble started at Raasay Stores and ended at Raasay Community Hall, where the walkers enjoyed well-earned drinks and cake.

 

 Further work took place yesterday (Friday 20 October) to restore the Scorrybreac path to an area of safety.

The rope access team started work to dislodge a large area of rock above the path.  The rock has been left in a precarious position since the recent rock slide.

The three man rope access team have been working in the area since Tuesday 10 October.  Their work will include heavy scaling of all the large unstable rocks using hydraulic jacks, and cutting away the overhanging turf above the rock failure.

This will be followed by light scaling of all loose material within the area.

It is hoped that the path will reopen shortly after the work is completed.  

Police are appealing for anyone who travelled the A82 overnight on Friday 29 September to come forward.

The police hope this appeal could lead to information on the whereabouts of missing man, Tony Parsons.

The 63-year-old left an address in the Ross Court area of Tillicoultry around 9.30am on Friday 29 September and travelled to Fort William by train.  He arrived in Fort William around 4.10pm and it is believed he then set off to cycle back to Tillicoultry along the A82.

Officers are eager to hear from the driver of a people carrier-style vehicle that was seen travelling south on the A82 at around 2am on 30 September at the Green Welly Stop, Tyndrum.

A group of kayakers worked to clear a 100m stretch from a shore in Sleat.

The kayakers were inspired by the growing movement to reduce plastics and debris floating in the oceans.

Georgina Maxwell of Plastic Planet UK and sea-kayak instructor, Kate Duffus, led the party last weekend as they removed debris from the shore at Boreraig, across Loch Eishort from Ord in Sleat.

A canoe was used as a bin lorry, aided by a sail and paddled by Jessica Leggatt.