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17 October 2014

Arnish Lighthouse

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Last post

In a few days' time, no further postings can be made on this blog, nor comments left. Island Blogging is fun and has been for the past 7 years (5 years as in the case of Arnish Lighthouse). Although this blog has now been at its new URL for 14 months, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the BBC for this great idea, to have island residents tell their tale through a dedicated forum.

Once more, this is Arnish Lighthouse signing off on BBC Scotland.
Feel free to go back through the archives, up to November 2005.

Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 18:10

Final post

Arnish Lighthouse has reached its third anniversary on BBC Island Blogging, and that's where it will end - that is to say, on the BBC website.

I think Island Blogging was a wonderful idea, linking people from all the Scottish islands together, and I've had a whale of a time. Apparently, I'm the most prodigious of bloggers in the Western Isles (510 posts), which bears out my enthusiasm. Looking back, I enjoyed putting up my many pictures (current collection has grown to nearly 18,000).

I seem to have become drawn into to controversial subjects like the proposed windfarms, the health board and the fabrication yard behind my alter ego, the lighthouse at Arnish. Things did get a wee bit nasty at times, when I believe I rattled a few cages that those inside did not appreciate. Nonetheless, I hope I made a contribution of sorts. Even if some of my comments were a bit off the wall. And of course I should not forget the fun at the Dell Fank.

As the rain clatters down on a dark December night, I'm drawing the curtains over Arnish Lighthouse, BBC style. Arnish Lighthouse will continue on an external site, as do quite a few other blogs. Come and have a look.

To all my readers and commenters since December 2005, many thanks.
Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 22:10

New pyramid

This is the new pyramid, with an angle of 58 degrees, which stands at the corner of Cromwell Street and North Beach Street in Stornoway. It has a circular seating area around it. Picture was taken at around 3pm last Friday, when it was already getting dark.
Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 17:13


Jill from EK asked about the pyramid. I don't have a terribly good picture of it.

In the above image, the pyramid can be seen to the right of the third person from the left. It was in use as a seating area in the middle of the town, outside the Town House, Woolworths, Murdo Maclean's and Furniture World. As I showed in a post yesterday, it was removed at the start of this year as part of the wholesale refurbishment of the town centre. Today's weather isn't conducive to taking photographs, so I'll post a pic as soon as weather allows.
Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 15:46

Island Blogging

Road leading away from Arnish Lighthouse

I am not a frequent contributor to Island Blogging these days, so I nearly missed the announcement that this forum will be closing down early next year. Much endebted to MJC in IN for bringing it to my attention.

I am very, very sad that for the second time in four weeks I find that a blogging community of which I am a member is being ripped up. It is ameliorated in this instance by the willingness of the BBC (read: our very own Carol) to keep the community together and maintaining our blogs on its servers. I wished AOL had bothered doing all that a month ago, when they scrapped their blogs. I am still picking up the pieces of that rather traumatic event.

I look to Carol for guidance and coordination in keeping us all linked up, perhaps on another blogging platform. I sincerely hope we will all stick together.

Over the past three years, I have enjoyed writing on Island Blogging, being a minor thorn in the side of local authorities like the Western Isles Health Board and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. I am also satisfied that my blog, amongst others from this island, has served to raise the profile of the Isle of Lewis in the world, by highlighting its natural beauty and promoting aspects of its culture.

Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 15:39

Late November

As darkness starts to fall before 4 o'clock, and mornings are similarly constricted, hours of daylight now come at a premium. Much as hours of darkness came at a premium in May, June and July. Personally, I find it hard to pick a season I do not like in the island. Perhaps the month of November most closely foots the bill, although being a weather buff, I cannot but enjoy the occasional gale or storm.

MV Pentalina B (which I stubbornly call MV Iona) is still carrying out the freight runs to the mainland, although normal service has been restored to Ullapool. MV Muirneag, our usual freight ferry, is still in dry-dock on the Tyne. Methinks they are being extra careful after its run-in with the Castle Grounds earlier in the year.

Until this year, the Pyramid was situated outside Woolworths in Stornoway's Cromwell Street, but its place has been taken by a faintly distorted triangle. One of its angles is at 58 degrees, the latitude of this town. I shall post a picture of it in an entry in the next few days. The above picture, dating back to last March, shows the gap following the removal of the Pyramid.
Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 17:00


It is 4 years ago that I arrived in Lewis, and among the handful of activities that I have engaged in over that period of time is photography of wargraves and war memorials. I have so far located over 330 individual graves of war dead or gravestones linked to these casualties in the two dozen cemeteries in Lewis and Harris. The task is not complete, as I initially focused on the victims of the Iolaire Disaster, later of World War I and this year World War II.
Photographs and additional information can be accessed through this page on the Scottish War Graves Project website.

This is an example of a wargrave in the cemetery at Gravir, South Lochs.

Murdigan Aonghais Alasdair
Last address in Lewis: 10 Calbost
Son of Angus and Christina Finlayson, of Lochs.
Service: Merchant Navy
Date of death: 1 February 1944
Lost on SS Caleb Sprauge, when that ship was sunk at Newhaven by enemy action.
Had served in RNR for 2 years 9 months before war
Interred: Gravir Cemetery
Local memorial: Pairc, Kershader

Last month, I visited the island of Hoy in Orkney to take pictures of all the (named) wargraves in the Royal Naval Cemetery at Lyness. I have now completed the task of putting images and information on a different page of the Scottish War Graves Project. . In this cemetery lie buried the dead from all over the United Kingdom, as well as more than a dozen German service personnel.
Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 15:05

Ferry news

As of Monday 10 November, there is quite some disruption on our primary ferry link to Ullapool. The linkspan at Ullapool, used for loading and unloading vehicles, is undergoing essential maintenance for about 10 days. As a result, the ferry service is reduced to one sailing a day to Ullapool (at 7.15 am) and one back (departing Ullapool at 5.15pm), carrying passengers only.

Vehicles have to go to Tarbert in Harris to cross to Uig (Skye), and an amended timetable is in place on the triangular route between Uig, Lochmaddy and Tarbert. Details are available by telephone from the ferry office in either port, please consult the Calmac website for details.

MV Muirneag, which normally does the freight run to Ullapool, departed for the Tyne for its annual refit yesterday. Its place is taken by the Pentalina B, formerly known as Calmac ferry Iona. This came to my attention when I noticed the Pentalina B on AIS docked alongside pier no 1. Pentalina B will sail back and forth to Uig in Skye, direct from Stornoway, with freight. Apparently, it will do two runs each night, except for Sunday/Monday.

Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 18:28

Iolaire Disaster

With only two days to go before Remembrance Sunday, I was very pleased to read in this week's Stornoway Gazette that the 90th anniversary of the sinking of the Iolaire off Stornoway Harbour will be formally commemorated on New Year's Day 2009. A film is currently being shot around the island about this tragedy. On New Year's Day, a remembrance service will be held at midday at the memorial, situated at Holm Point, which overlooks the site of the sinking. A wreath will be laid both on land and at sea. In case of inclement weather, the service will be moved to the TA Hall on Church Street in Stornoway.

You can read more on the Iolaire Disaster on this webpage.

The memorial from the site of Iolaire's sinking

Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 11:51


I don't have children going to school, but am only too aware of the 'problems' surrounding the provision of education to the island's youngsters. As I indicated in a previous post, I am totally lost as for the rationale behind the decisions being taken, only to be reversed within hours, by Western Isles Council. I had to bite back a sardonic cackle this evening when reading that 'hard decisions' would have to be taken. For goodness sakes, hard decisions were called for this summer, and were very effectively avoided.

Now I read that the provision of primary education is to be reviewed. All 38 primaries in the Western Isles catchment area (Barra to Butt) will come under close scrutiny. However, should the secondary segments (S1/S2) in outlying schools come to be closed (can't, for the muddle, tell whether or not that's the case), classrooms will start to lie empty, which could be used for primary education.

Confused? How DO you mean, confused?!

Back in the late 1980s, someone was employed by the Council to go round and axe schools, left, right and centre. He was the scapegoat and could safely leave the island, with all the impopularity on his unfortunate shoulders. Being electorally aware has, by the sound of things, made our councillors scared of making impopular decisions, only batting for their own wards. Fair enough, up to a point, but it's already led to insults from a parliamentary representative - something I don't agree with in itself - but it IS time Sandwick Road got its act together, made a firm decision and stuck to it. We've got a Butt of Lewis in our island, we don't need to be the Butt of Jokes.
Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 23:18

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