Wednesday, 27 September 2006

Matheson Memorial

<![CDATA[ Matheson MemorialToday, the renovated Matheson Memorial was officially inaugurated in the Stornoway Castle Grounds, following a major refurbishment. Those arriving into Stornoway by ferry may be familiar with the monument, which stands on a hill overlooking the harbour.

It was erected by the wife of Sir James Matheson (1796 - 1878) in his memory. The inaugural ceremony was attended by representatives of the Matheson Clan and from the Jardine-Matheson company, co-founded by James Matheson in the 1820s.

Sir James Matheson made his fortune in the opium trade, and could arguably be referred to as a drugsbaron. This may well elicit a few gasps of horror in certain circles, but it should be born in mind that Great Britain went to war to protect its interests in said opium trade. At the end of the Opium Wars, Hong Kong was occupied by Britain, only to be ceded back to the People's Republic of China in 1997.

Matheson meanwhile returned to Scotland in 1842 and purchased the Isle of Lewis. For his efforts to alleviate the effects of the potato famine (1846/7) in Lewis, he was awarded a baronetcy in 1851.

Matheson was also responsible for the clearance of the southern half of Park (Eishken), with the 36 villages I have blogged about before. Sheep being more profitable than people, I presume. ]]>

Monday, 25 September 2006

Arnish Fabrication Yard - 24 September 2006

<![CDATA[ Images speak louder than words
Sign at the entrance
The entrance

I have omitted a picture showing a misspelled claim to property on one of the pipes, stored in the yard. ]]>

Monday, 18 September 2006

West Side

<![CDATA[ Last week, I was over on the West Side, showing an antipodean visitor round. Managed to visit three villages there, Gearrannan, Dalmore and Dalbeg.

Gearrannan Blackhouse VillageGearrannan contains the Blackhouse Village, the restored blackhouses at the end of the road by the beach. I hope they have by now shifted those containers by the gate at the bottom. They smelled as if they had recently contained dead sheep. Otherwise, I was pleased to note that the thatch on the houses has now been renewed. It looked worn in the spring. I always like Gearrannan; at one time I reached there, having walk from Borrowston round to the Lamishader lighthouse and coming in from the west. Some great views can be had when walking east over the clifftops towards Dalmore. Looking west, you see Old Hill (the 270 ft high hump of rock north of Great Bernera) and Gallan Head, the cape off Aird Uig.

You can walk from Gearrannan to Dalmore - please be very careful near clifftops if you do. It takes about an hour and a half, follow the posts. Dalmore has a great beach, if lined with large boulders and coastal defence works. Swimming here is dangerous, but it's great for windsurfing. The cemetery stands immediately above the beach. Dalmore village only contains a handful of houses; the ruins of others dot the hillsides.
Dalmore Beach Dalmore Village
Dalbeg is 40 minutes' walk further east, and a little gem of a place. The loch is filled with rushes and water lilies and a small flock geese swam around. The stack on the right hand side of the beach is quite distinctive. The river flowing into the beach is only 50 or 100 yards long, but in common with many rivers flowing into Lewis beaches, it meanders and changes its path on a regular basis.
Dalbeg Beach
The West Side walk carries on from here, all the way to Bragar. It passes to the north of Shawbost, with the Congested Districts Board Wall between Dalbeg and Shawbost presenting a bit of an obstacle. It's a beautiful coastline walk from Gearrannan to Bragar, which can be done on a day. Please be careful on a windy day; beware of the cliffs. ]]>

Wednesday, 13 September 2006

Couple of bits and pieces

<![CDATA[ Last Friday, a mock-up accident was set up outside the Town Hall. One car on its side, the other on its roof. The emergency services attended, and a demonstration was given as to how police, ambulance, fire and coastguard services operate and co-operate. First priority is to make the casualties safe, and the scene safe for other road users. Anyone involved in the incident who couldn't liberate themselves from their cars was cut free. There was one "fatality", which was attributed to the "victim" not wearing seatbelts. Once the casualties were made safe and stabilised, they were transferred "to hospital" using the Coastguard helicopter. The object was to raise public awareness of the work of the emergency services, and to shock young drivers into sensible driving. The mock-up was well attended, and everything was cleared within about 40 minutes.
The scene of the mock-up
As promised some pictures of the high tides. Although the highest tides peaked at 5.5m above chart datum, nothing untoward has been reported. We were lucky that it was a very quiet weekend. Not so just now, as I am typing this (9pm on Wednesday), the wind is touching force 6 outside. The remnant of Hurricane Florence is due over the island on Sunday.
The island off Goat Island is normally linked to the latter - not that evening

I am pleased about the discussion surrounding the mothballing of the Arnish Fabrication Yard. The commitment of the Scottish Executive to wavepower, as reported by one commentator, is late in coming. I don't think opposition to windpower had anything to do with the closure of Arnish. It is just plain poor management on the part of ALL involved. ]]>

Wednesday, 6 September 2006

Western Isles Archaeology Month

<![CDATA[ September is Western Isles Archaeology Month, and there are more than a dozen events to choose from. These vary from talks to walks, in places as far apart as Leverburgh and Ness; I have no information on events in the Uists or Barra, unfortunately.

The walks involve visiting ancient sites, like the Achmore Stone Circle, the middle age fortress at Dun Eistean, in Ness and the Galson shoreline.

The talks are on the results of field campaigns and surveys in the island of Lewis / Harris. There is also an open day at the Archaeology Centre in the Old School at Achmore, 9 miles southwest of Stornoway.

If you're in the island over the next 3 weeks and would like to come along, check for details in the full list, which is taken from Events Monthly. ]]>

End of Summer