:



 Home of the North West Highlands of Scotland’s award-winning news magazine

advertising

 deadlines

subscriptions
awards  contact us what’s on search this site spotlight

 

News and views from the North West
Highlands

 

We regret that our archives have been removed. We intend to restore the missing files in due course. In the meantime, we apologise for any inconvenience to readers.

 

Updated on the first Thursday of the month

January 2017


Editor appointed
The board of North West Sutherland Council for Community Action, publishers of Am Bratach, is pleased to announce the appointment of Anne Macdonald as editor of the magazine. Mrs Macdonald, a crofter’s daughter from Strathcanaird, will take over from retiring editor, Donald MacLeod, on January 16 after having served ten years as archivist for Skye and Lochalsh, based at Portree.
More

Two Mackenzie families in strath
Last month we published a photo of the late Chrissie Mackenzie of Croick, Halladale, linking her family to one “exchanged” for a piper, Ruairidh Mackay, writes Donald MacLeod.
The photo and some information about Chrissie were given to me by Sandra Train, but the story about her links to the Gairloch Estate were passed to me directly by Chrissie and her brother Hamish in the 1960s, information I shared many years later with piping historian, Bridget Mackenzie, author of Piping Traditions of the North of Scotland.
More

Nature’s call
by Andy Summers
It was dark, the dogs limbo-danced under the croft gate. The broken landscape was still devoid of colour. The smell of pre-dawn hung in the unnaturally warm air. The Hebridean sheep heard the rattle of the sugar beet pellets in my bucket and had started moving forward long before I could see their black fleeces in the murky gloom.
More

Some other reports and features from this month’s paper

Tourism body ‘committed’ to enhancing visitor experience
l Durness and Lochinver centres are in private hands because HIE sold them off (at a big loss)
l Highland Council reduced its grant to VisitScotland by £150K in the last financial year
l Highland Council Ranger Service: six or seven posts have already been shed though they’re a ‘really good source’ of help and information

VisitScotland has allayed fears to some extent that Durness and Lochinver will lose their visitor centres in the coming financial year. A spokeswoman for the tourism body said: “We wish to continue to have a visitor information presence in both Lochinver and Durness in 2017 and beyond and we are currently awaiting a response from the landlord around ongoing lease negotiations.

Editorial
Crofting travails
The Crofting Commission has experienced a very, very difficult year. While all organisations go through rough patches, matters usually come to a head and the difficulties are somehow resolved. There is not the case with the commission

Litir bhon a’ Cheathramh
Alasdair MacMhaoirn
Bliadhna mhath ùr dhuibh, tha min dòchas! Tha agamsa ris a’ cholbh seo a sgrìobhadh ro làimh, agus abair gu bheil e duilich an-dràsta! Cha mhòr nach eil a h-uile rud ann an ceò de mhì-chinnte. A’ tòiseachadh gu h-ionadail tha croitearachd bun-fos-cinn, nas fharsaing chan eil fhios ann a bheil no cuin a tha reifreann ùr gu bhith ann dha Alba, san Rìoghachd uile gu lèir chan eil ann ach ceistean mu dheidhinn Breatainn agus an Aonadh Europa (AE). A good New Year to you all, I hope! Writing this column ahead of time can be difficult. At present pretty much everything is uncertain. Crofting is in disarray, we don’t know when or even if there will be another independence referendum, nationally there are no answers to the relationship between the UK and the EU..


December 2016


‘Clueless’ education bosses bleed support
Support for the education authority in Tongue and Farr probably reached a new low last week when a Highland Council official emailed a document to parents outlining an unwelcome reorganisation of their children’s schooling that could end up in a court of law.
More

Graeme at large
by Graeme Mackay
"Deck the halls with boughs of holly" — Christmas is fast approaching and for some of us it is a stressful time deciding what to buy people, who to buy for and how much to spend. The truth of the matter is that most of us would be happy with a visit, a card or a phone call but regardless it is the time of year to think of others and appreciate those who mean a lot to us.
More

Bookends
by Kevin Crowe
Scotland’s favourite book.
Recently, the BBC held a poll to discover what was Scotland's favourite book. In October, the broadcaster devoted a TV programme to looking at the top ten. Without a doubt, the list demonstrates a diversity of genres and styles, mixing classics with contemporary work.
More

Some other reports and features from this month’s paper

‘Crofting is no collective endeavour and never was’
Crofting convenor cleared of misconduct as Upper Coll papers passed to Police Scotland

A crofter from the heights of Assynt has expressed sympathy for the predicament of Colin Kennedy, the convenor of the Crofting Commission, who is facing calls for his resignation from all and sundry, including politicians and crofters’ leaders (Am Bratach, November 3, 2016).

Gaelic weekend report
From the ages of 15 to 80-plus they came from Campbeltown, Aberdeen, Inverness and Balchladich; thirty in all to enjoy some quality teaching at all levels and some fine hospitality at Glencanisp.

History file
by Malcolm Bangor-Jones
In 1845 a special correspondent of The Times reported on the condition of the poor in the Highlands.
Proceeding along the north coast of Sutherland he came across a “nest of cottages or huts” called Sangobeg. The people had resisted the attempt of James Anderson at Rispond to clear them but apparently had no means of fishing. The correspondent claimed that the “condition of the people here is just one remove from absolute starvation”.


November 2016


MP supports wind farm at Altnaharra
Local MP Paul Monaghan has given the thumbs up to Creag Riabhach wind farm on Altnaharra Estate.
The long awaited decision by the Scottish Government to go ahead was warmly welcomed by the developers, councillors, community councils and others over a wide area, perhaps reflecting the widespread community benefit envisaged in the planning application which even included free electricity to local residents.
More

Postie’s post
by Paul Blackman
Before I got the Skerray posting job I did some holiday cover in Bettyhill. I remember my first day setting off with “John the Post”, notebook in hand, up Strathnaver to Kinbrace, to meet the early morning train with all the newspapers.
More

History file
by Malcolm Bangor-Jones
The proposal by Captain Jespersen to establish a whaling station at Weaver’s Bay on Loch Laxford became a source of public debate. In November 1949 the Duke of Sutherland again raised concerns about the financial backing.
More

Some other reports and features from this month’s paper

Tongue and Skerray crofts sale not soon says factor Voy
But Portgower crofts likely go to local trust
The Sutherland Estate has no plans to sell off its Tongue and Skerray crofte to tenants and is unlikely to do so during the lifetime of the present Countess of Sutherland..

Crofter commissioners not at war says embattled convener Kennedy
Colin Kennedy points finger at civil servant as source of internal strife
The turf war engulfing the Crofting Commission since April has been compared to the 2016 US presidential election campaign in its ferocity and bitterness. In the commission’s case, it is mainly levelled at the 56-year-old elected convener of the Inverness-based statutory regulator of crofting. (Download advice from Colin Kennedy and Catriona MacLean of the Crofting Commission
here