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16 October 2014

Arnish Lighthouse - October 2006

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Just wanted to share some pictures of Ness, taken just over a week ago.

Cross Church

Port Sto, between Eoropie and Butt of Lewis Lighthouse

Rock formations off the Butt of Lewis

Dunes at Eoropie Beach
Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 12:50

Ferry relocation

As of next week, the Stornoway to Ullapool ferry, MV Isle of Lewis, will dock at number 1 pier in Stornoway. This is due to essential maintenance work being carried out on number 3 pier, where the ferry normally docks.

Passengers, on foot and in vehicles, should note that ticket sales and vehicle check-in will still take place at the ferry terminal on number 3 pier. Foot passengers will be transferred to the old pier by coach for embarkation; vehicle drivers will be required to proceed there themselves.

Number 1 pier is located a few hundred yards west of number 3 pier. After check-in, drivers need to turn left upon leaving the marshalling area and proceed down Shell Street past the gas tanks. Ahead over the roundabout and down South Beach Street. They should NOT turn right into Castle Street, but instead carry on in front of the Caledonian Hotel. Number 1 pier has the distinctive, beige coloured Maritime Buildings on it, and was used until 1997 for ferry embarkation.
Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 11:41

Calmac loses £33m

West Coast ferry operators, Caledonian MacBrayne, have announced losses of 33 million pounds. The Scottish Executive have nearly fully offset these losses with a £31 million deficit grant. The two routes making the biggest losses were the Oban to Lochboisdale and the Ullapool to Stornoway route, £3m and £4m respectively.

Overall, Calmac carried 5 million passengers and 1 million cars. Its fuel bill rose to £9m, in spite of acquiring fuel at a pre-arranged rate.

At the moment, Calmac and a rival operator, Western Ferries, are locked in a tendering process for the West Coast routes. The winner for the Gourock to Dunoon service, in the Clyde Estuary, will be announced at the end of this month.

Although the losses incurred are great, they are offset by a grant from the Executive, as outlined above. This is because the ferries are lifeline services, indispensible to the islands' population.
Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 18:44

Villagers oppose windfarm

The 47 villagers of Marvig, South Lochs, have expressed their opposition to the building of a windfarm in the Eishken Estate, not far from their community. The ballotpapers were returned by all residents, apart from two who were away.

Following a reduction in the number of turbines in the proposed windfarm from 133 to 53, councillors in the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have reaffirmed their approval of the scheme.

The ballot was organised as the villagers felt that decisions were being taken without their views being sought. This has been a recurring complaint since the windfarm issue came on the scene in Lewis in 2004. Community council members have resigned over this issue in various wards in Lewis; Ness, Airidhantuim and Laxdale stand out as having featured some very lively debates between councillors and residents.
Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 22:50

Poisonous playpark

A playpark on Bayhead in the centre of Stornoway was closed on Thursday after preliminary investigations found elevated levels of heavy metals like lead in the soil. Council official stressed that this was a precautionary measure and that the risk to users of the playpark, children up to age 6 and their parents, was minimal.

Apparently, the site of the playpark used to be a dump. Further investigations will have to reveal how serious the pollution is.

Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 13:08

Sunset images

Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 13:17

Debate on clearances

Heard the other day that Lewis was thought to be less affected by the 18th and 19th century clearances than other islands in the Hebrides. Fewer people were shunted off overseas, as those that were cleared from land were relocated elsewhere in the island.

I cannot agree with the sentiment behind that assertion. Clearances still took place in Lewis, right throughout the 19th century. The district of Eishken was cleared in the 1820s, with its villagers moved to Lemreway and other places in Lochs, if not elsewhere in the island. Being forced, at a moment's notice, to quit home and hearth is at best a distressing experience. Sometimes machinations would be put in place to make it impossible for tenants to hold on to their land, such as an extortionate rent increase. The torch to the thatch is a potent symbol too.

Those that so wish can debate the point at the annual Angus "Ease" MacLeod memorial lecture in Gravir School on October 24th. I'm not at all sure whether Angus would have liked to see the Clearances in Lewis belittled like this.
Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 19:53

Winter Timetable

A reminder for travellers in the Western Isles that buses and ferries revert to a winter schedule, starting on Monday, October 23rd. Bus services will be slightly less frequent than during the summer period, although the only major decrease in frequency (within Lewis and Harris) is noted on the Stornoway to Tarbert and Leverburgh route.

Passengers for the early ferries at Tarbert or Leverburgh will be required to book a taxibus service before 17.00 hours the previous day at Stornoway Bus Station. The fare has to be booked in person and paid for. The first scheduled bus to Harris will not leave Stornoway until 12.30 (p.m.) on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, this will be at 10.00 (a.m.).

Bus timetables are available free of charge from Stornoway Bus Station as well as Tourist Information Centres. The timetable can also be viewed at the Comhairle nan Eilean Siarwebsite, for both Lewis & Harris and the Uists.

Ferry timetables can be obtained from any ferry terminal, TIC or from the Calmacwebsite.
Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 18:52

Turbine overboard!

The German registered vessel Lass Moon put into Stornoway this morning, carrying windturbines for a small project on the Arnish Moor. The only problem was that several parts of the three turbines destines for the site along the Lochs Road were lost overboard in adverse weather. The Lass Moon was transporting the turbine sections from a fabrication yard in Denmark.

These turbines have seen the North Sea twice over, as their fabrication was commenced at the Arnish Yard early this year. After the yard's operators, Camcal, got into financial difficulty, the partly finished turbines were transported to Denmark for completion. Gales in the North Sea and North Atlantic caused some of the turbines to wash overboard.

This means that the proposed date for commissioning the windfarm on the Arnish Moor will have to be put back from next month into 2007. Its operators, Forest Invest Management, have expressed disappointment at this setback.

Below picture shows the Lass Moon passing the Arnish Lighthouse on its way into port at 11 a.m. this morning.

Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 22:24

First gale of the season

The Western Isles got off relatively lightly in Thursday's bad weather. Throughout the morning and part of the afternoon, a northeasterly gale force 8 blew. It rained, but the effects of that were exacerbated by the force of the wind. Calmac had decided not to run any ferries at all to Ullapool. A northeasterly wind blows be directly across the path of the ferry, and would have made it very uncomfortable and risky.

Today, Friday, the weather is wet and windy, although the force 7 was less than yesterday and there is a ferry service. Needless to say, though, the ferry is running more than an hour late as a result of the conditions. There appeared to be a large degree of panic-buying going on in the supermarket, judging by the huge queues at the check-outs. Longest I've ever seen, outside the Christmas period.

I was surprised to note the extent of the flooding in Kirkwall, along Junction Road and other places in the town. I know Kirkwall fairly well, following a four-week sojourn there in September 2004. I wish all in that town and elsewhere in Orkney, Shetland and mainland Scotland luck with the clear-up of the mess.
Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 21:45

NHS Western Isles

The restructuring of the Health Services in these islands is progressing apace. The resignation of the previous Chairman, and the reassignment of the Chief Executive, followed in the wake of the appointment of an interim management team. Now, the posts of Medical Directors, of which there were three, have been turned into the more average total of one. The previous Medical Director, who was a prominent spokesperson a lot of the time, is no longer in post.

In March this year, the management team at South Beach Street (where the NHS Western Isles office is located) received a resounded vote of no-confidence at a public in Stornoway Town Hall. This had been organised by local councillors, who had received a barrage of complaints from members of staff. Under normal circumstances, these grievances should have been dealt with inside the NHS here. The breakdown of trust and communication with the management had been that complete.

Following the resignation of the Chairman and Chief Executive, the vote of no confidence remained in place. It would be reasonable to expect it to be lifted, but that is down to the staff who adopted said vote in the first place. The main names on my quitlist are no longer in office here in the NHS Western Isles.

Apart from the staff / management relations, there is also a problem with a budget deficit of over 2 million pounds. This has been shrunk from the £3m in March, but is still a whopping amount. Remains to be seen how that will be tackled. Cue Finance Director.
Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 16:29

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