A cyclist who is heading for the Isle of Skye after travelling on the NC500 has issued a message regarding litter.

Rodrigo Salvatierra Arraño, a mechanical engineer from Santago in Chile, is half way on his seven month tour of Europe, having started in Spain in May.

Rodrigo met with Councillor Trish Robertson, Vice Chair of the Council’s Places Committee, at Inverness Castle, the start and end point of the NC500 route, on 23 August.  

He said: “The Highlands are beautiful and remind me of the scenery in Patagonia.  It is a shame that it is spoilt in places by litter.

“Whilst cycling on the beautiful Highland roads I noticed some plastic bottles at the side of the road. I picked these up and then I saw some cans and more things. I had cycled for about 5km and by this time I had filled all my panniers with litter."

“I also noticed that a lot of people are leaving rubbish beside the bins instead of inside of them, especially when they are full.  The cities and bigger towns are probably cleaner than the cities in Chile, but in the countryside the contrast is more noticeable – the beautiful scenery and the waste!”

 

A ward in Raigmore Hospital has been closed.

Visitors have been asked to refrain from visiting Ward 7A, a medical Ward.

The closure comes as a precaution after one patient has tested positive for Norovirus and another patient has symptoms.

Visitors are encouraged not to visit unless absolutely necessary.  If you, or anyone you live with has had symptoms of diarrhoea and/or vomiting please do not come into the hospital until you are clear for 48 hours.

The ward will be reviewed daily.

Highland Council is to seek the views of local communities on a proposal to establish Gaelic Medium catchment areas for the primary schools serving Portree High School. 

The change is being proposed in line with Statutory Guidance on Gaelic Medium Education. 

Members of the People Committee have agreed to undertake a public consultation on the proposal. The consultation will take place under procedures set down in The Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010. 

The views of parents, the local community and others will be sought over a period extending from 28 August to 25 October 2017. 

Public meetings will be held in Portree on 13 September; Broadford on 14 September and Dunvegan on 4 October.

The proposal paper and associated documentation will be available on the Highland Council website from 28 August at:  www.highland.gov.uk/schoolconsultations.  

Similar exercises will be rolled out across the Highland Council area.

The Isle of Skye has once again proved to be an inspiration.

The Scotland: Craft & Design Pavilion 2017 edition will feature ceramics by Patricia Shone, inspired by the landscape of the island.

Patricia Shone was born in Scotland but grew up in South Devon.  After studying ceramics in London, finances and a love of food led her into working as a chef both there and in Italy.  Eventually the cooking took her to Skye where she returned to potting and where she has remained for twenty years.

“My work has developed over the years in response to the powerful landscape around me on the Isle of Skye.  Also to a feeling of connection with the passage across the land of its past inhabitants.  I make mostly functional forms, boxes, bowls, jars, rather direct representation of the landscape, because they are innately human vessels of containment.

"The surfaces of the land are eroded by forces of climate and human intervention, but the substance of it remains constant and immutable. Traces of the past are scratched all over the hills, and remain in ruined form, as fading monuments to the communities who worked the land.”

“I want the natural forms, colours and textures of the work to engage the viewer with a landscape beyond daily experience. As we advance, technologically, the surfaces we touch become increasingly synthetic and machine finished. I feel that what challenges us now is the reality of nature – wild, uncomfortable, dirty, unpackaged, visceral experience.”

Police in Lochaber are offering security advice to local businesses after a series of recent thefts from commercial premises in the area.

Officers have received reports of break-in incidents affecting rural properties in Glenfinnan, Ardgour and Fort William areas in the last few days

Items stolen have included small amounts of cash and foodstuffs.

Enquiries are ongoing locally and officers working in Preventions and Interventions are now urging other businesses to be on their guard and to take precautions.

Constable Keri Jones said: "All of these recent incidents have occurred in quiet rural areas, which are unfortunately not safe from crime.

"Isolated areas allow opportunistic thieves ideal conditions to operate undisturbed and unnoticed so it is vitally important that basic security steps are followed to keep properties and their contents safe.

"Businesses are reminded to secure their properties, ensuring money kept within is correctly stored.

"Try to avoid storing anything of any value somewhere it can be seen from outside the building.

"The addition of security lights around your property can also help to deter criminal activity.

"If any doubt about suspicious activity, report it giving as much detail as possible to help us.

"Enquiries are ongoing into the most recent incidents and if you any information relating to any suspicious behaviour call us on 101 as soon as you can."

 

An otter has been spotted in Japan for the first time in almost four decades, according a Scottish charity assisting Japanese conservationists.

The Skye-based International Otter Survival Fund (IOSF) has been helping prepare a reintroduction of otters.  

The last confirmed sighting of an otter was 38 years ago and the animals were declared extinct on the Japanese islands in 2012.  It said a Japanese scientist spotted the otter.

The sighting was made on the island of Tsushima in the Nagasaki prefecture, which is located between the Korean peninsula and Japan.

IOSF said it had still be confirmed if it was a Japanese otter, which is believed to be a subspecies of the Eurasian otter, or an animal from Korea.

 

Volunteers are sought for a pilot befriending project, entitled Skye and Lochalsh Neighbours and Friends.  

The project aims to reduce loneliness and isolation experienced by people in the areas of Skye and Lochalsh.  

The project will be run by Skye and Lochalsh Council for Voluntary Organisation and the Highland Hospice.  

Anyone with two or three hours spare per fortnight is invited to get in touch.

Volunteers will be required to attend a two day training session on 12 September from 10:30am to 3:30pm and on 26 September from 10:30am to 4:00pm at the SLCVO office in Portree.

For more information, contact Samantha-Jo McArthur on 01478612921 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

A rock fall at Scorrybreac has resulted in walkers being advised to stay away from the path.

The fall took place on Saturday 19 August, north of the Black Rock on the Scorrybreac headland.  

A low level inspection was carried out, resulting in the path's closure and appropriate signage put in place.  An inspection then took place at the top of the ridge.  

The headland is managed by the Clan MacNicol Trust, who stated: "We cannot stress enough how unstable this area of rock is and would strongly urge all walkers who are using the path not to pass the signs or fencing, as the area is extremely dangerous.

"In the coming days we’ll seek expert advice on how to make the area safe and hopefully open the path as soon as possible."

 

Portree RNLI assisted with two incidents on Sunday 20 August.

Earlier in the day, the Lifeboat was tasked by Stornoway Coastguard to assist in a medical evacuation from Rona.

The casualty was conveyed to Portree and were then handed over to the Scottish Ambulance Service.

The second incident took place when the Lifeboat crew were tasked to assist with a medical evacuation from the Isle of Raasay.

 

Staffin and Trotternish residents are encouraged to share their views on a proposed new designation to help protect fossils.

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has proposed that a “Nature Conservation Order” (NCO) to protect fossils finds is introduced.

SNH’s Colin MacFadyen said the conservation agency was keen to do all it could to protect important finds in Staffin, but stressed the proposed designation would not restrict access for local people or holidaymakers.  

“Fossil remains of dinosaurs, and other vertebrates, dating from the Middle Jurassic (175-160 million years ago), are globally rare,” he said.

“Some coastal beaches and cliffs locations in Skye have been identified where such remains occur notably in the north-east of the island in Staffin and north of Elgol, in the south. These fossils are therefore of major international significance. Natural erosion reveals the fossils which become exposed and may be found in the exposed bedrock and in water-washed beach deposits.

“In recent years there have been incidents in Skye where dinosaur fossil remains have been hammered and fragmented by amateur collecting, or perhaps even damaged intentionally. As each and every dinosaur fossil could provide vital information on the evolution of these animals, vertebrates generally and Skye’s Middle Jurassic ecosystems, it is important to try and safeguard them. 

“A Nature Conservation Order is proposed to protect ‘vertebrate ‘trace’ fossils (tracks and/or individual footprints) and associated vertebrate ‘body’ fossils (such as bones and teeth’. However, given that fossil material is continually coming to light, and scientific research is ongoing, a mechanism is being sought ensure that dinosaur fossil material will continue to be collected for research and public exhibition. This would be consented collecting operated by means of a permit system.”

The NCO will not affect land management and public access to the areas affected. Its only manifestation on the ground may be signage located at established access points to stretches of coastline. SNH will prepare the case for the NCO, under the provisions in the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004, with the Order being made, hopefully as soon as it can be managed, by the Scottish Government.

SNH would like to hear the views and concerns of those who consider they may be affected by the proposed NCO.

For further information, contact Mr MacFadyen by 5pm on Thursday 7 September by emailing: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phoning: 0131 316 2616.

Procedural guidance, derived from the Scottish Fossil Code, has been prepared for amateur fossil enthusiasts/collectors and the general public and can be read via the SNH website at http://www.snh.gov.uk/protecting-scotlands-nature/safeguarding-geodiversity/protecting/skye-fossils