Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Sunday ferries debate

A debate on Sunday ferries will be going out live on Isles FM (also by Internet) on Friday - 26 June - from the Bridge Centre, Bayhead at 5pm-6pm. The panelists will apparently include Cllr Angus Campbell, Cllr Phillip Maclean, John Macleod (Journalist), Rev Iain D Campbell, Uisdean Macleod and Ian Fordham. Leading the debate is Iain X MacIver. This will be a good opportunity to hear the logical arguments against a 7-day ferry service.

As far as I know it's open to the public so if you have nothing better to do (!) please come along and feel free to forward to anyone else interested.

For anyone outside the UK: 5pm = 1600 GMT.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Core Paths

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have launched a consultation on core paths in the Western Isles. This is a spin-off from the Land Reform Act of 2003, which requires local authorities to establish a network of paths to give the public reasonable access to their area. A paper copy can be viewed in public libraries in Stornoway, Tarbert, Balivanich and Castlebay. The text is also contained in a number of PDF-files on the Comhairle's website. The consultation closes on Friday 7 August 2009. Feedback can be given in written and email form by that date.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Images of June

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Cruiseliner in the fog"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Woolly jumper in Uig"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Shielings in Uig"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Darkness in London, daylight in Stornoway"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Claire de Lune"]Claire de Lune[/caption]

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Old posts

All posts from Arnish Lighthouse BBC have now been appended to this blog, from December 2005 right up to the transition to this site in December 2008. The old sites are marked as authored by Les, but that is probably a quirk of the import. I was kindly sent an XML import file by Carol of BBC IB, which imported with quite a few problems. Funny codes, empty posts and absent graphics. Am querying.

Rockets galore - no more

I am horrified to learn that by 2014 our neighbours in the Uists are set to lose 125 jobs at the rocket range in South Uist. The base on St Kilda is set to be closed down. After the dust has settled on this explosive announcement, the population of the Uists is faced with the prospect of a sharp economic decline. I realise that I'm blogging out of area. However, I do tend to do that from time to time and I'm not aware of an Island Blogger in the southern isles.

From a political perspective this is a bombshell of some proportions, as the question could be asked where our parliamentary representatives were when this was all cooked up. Arnish Lighthouse as a blog will not express a party political preference, but will go so far as to say that our M(S)P have failed to grasp the reality of devolution, in that Defense is not a devolved issue, and therefore decided by the Westminster parliament and administration.

An extensive series of articles on this afternoon's announcement is published on Hebrides News.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Delivery charges petition

The Prime Minister's Office has replied to the ePetition on the 10 Downing Street website, related to delivery charges to the Highlands and Islands. I first reported on this on 8 January. The reply basically says that the Government will not take any action against carriers who appear to discriminate against residents of remote areas by charging more for delivery. In fact, that practice is virtually condoned in the reply. However, people are recommended to shop around and pay close attention to T&C's on websites. Full reply can be read here.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Visit to Uig - follow-up

Found a picture on the website of the Uig Historical Society of the shieling at Gearraidh Thodail, which I walked past on Tuesday. It shows the shieling in use around 1930. Gearraidh Thodail was the shieling for the hamlet of Kneep, about 8 miles to the north.

Consultation on large scale windfarms in the Western Isles

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has published draft supplementary guidance for large scale windfarms in the council area. It can be downloaded in English and Gaelic from this page. Its purpose is:

To set out policies and other advice to assist in positively planning for the provision of large scale wind energy developments (over 20 Mega Watt) in the Outer Hebrides.

All concerned are encouraged to read and give feedback on said draft guidance, using the contact information on the same webpage by Tuesday 4 August 2009.

With thanks to commenter Lady GarGar for drawing this to my attention

Press 0 for nothing

Rang the Comhairle's telephone number for enquiries about council-run bus services, 01851-709747.
Some of them aren't turning up.

A man's voice says "Operations unit, bus operations" and after a moment's silence a woman's voice states "not available".

Then, you are given the options of recording a message, ending it with #, or dial 0 for an operator. Upon pressing 0, the woman's voice comes back to you, stating that the operator is not available.

Then, the man's voice takes over and says "Operations unit, bus operations" and after a moment's silence a woman's voice states "not available".

How long have you got?

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Visit to Uig - 9 June

Dependant as I am on public transport, the district of Uig in western Lewis is a bit difficult to get to. The first bus of the day goes at midday, and is the postbus. Nothing with that, a great experience as you watch the postman dropping mail in any sort of 'mailbox', varying from lunchboxes to tailormade cabinets. However, if you want to get any amount of walking done, you're restricted to 4 or 5 hours. Uig is a remote, large and hilly area. The hills here are the tallest in Lewis, rising to close on 1,900 feet. Either you stay overnight in one of the local hostelries or a tent - or you chance missing the last bus (leaving at 6pm).

After tapping one of the people at the local historical society for local knowledge of the terrain underfoot, I set off on said postbus yesterday and alighted at Ungeshader, a mile south of Lochcroistean. A track winds its way across the southern end of Loch Croistean, then quickly peters out and you have to make your own way across the usual Lewis terrain.

After an hour of this, including tramping up a small gorge, you reach a shieling, Gearraidh Thodail. It struck me that the area in the immediate vicinity of the ruins looked very green and fertile. In the past, people would go to these shielings in summer with their cow(s) to fatten them up for winter.

Beyond this shieling, the terrain angles up and the hill / mountain of Suainebhal becomes more conspicuous to your right. A slow ascent brings you to a height of about 470 feet above sealevel, with a breathtaking vista over Loch Suainebhat below and across the lower lands south of Carnish right out to the Atlantic and the Flannans. Tantalising glimpses of distant hills to the south are had as you approach the crest.

A gentle descent brought me to the western flank of Suainebhal. This plunges down to the waters of the loch below at a 45 degree angle, and a set of sheep's trails lead you through a maze of boulders and heather. Always aware of the drop below, I made very slow but steady progress, finally coming out under the  precipices of Suainebhal proper further north.

After this, it is a case of walking round the loch's shores, under the frowning face of Suainebhal to the outflow of the loch. Yesterday, it was quite easy to wade across the stream, as there has been little rain in Lewis over the past week or two.

A tarmac road leads back to the main road through West Uig, the C79 / B8011.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

T/S Gunilla

Just after 6pm on Wednesday evening (3 June), the Swedish trainingship Gunilla entered Stornoway harbour under engine power. I am stressing that last fact, as we are talking about this magnificent three-master.

Gunilla is connected to a senior high school in Öckerö, Sweden. The ship sails the seas of the world, and is currently midway through a 51-day journey, which will end at Oostende, Belgium, in July. It is not known to me how long Gunilla will remain tied up at Stornoway, but anyone interested can access the ship's website. Please note the link provides an automatic translation from the original Swedish, so it's a bit clunky here and there.