Welcome to the first blog post of 2018… which is a bit late because it is now March!
The area is beginning to open up again as we quickly approach the Easter weekend at the end of the month. You can see opening hours for our local establishments below. New to the blog is ‘History Fact of the Month’ and a few more features which I hope will become a regular addition. I feel that enough has been said for the moment about the state of our roads, and the lack of gritting, so its time for some new features and subjects. Welcome to Kishorn.
The first Kishorn school, now known as the Meeting House, was built in the 1840s. The school was run and managed by the church, with the board being chaired, at one time, by the Rev Kenneth MacDonald who was minister in Applecross. He was also the school inspector and many inspections were undertaken to make sure that the pupils were showing good understanding of the bible and Christian faith along with reading and writing. One such inspection is documented below. School attendance became compulsory in 1880, though a survey undertaken in the 1890’s suggested that only around 80% of eligible children were attending school. But the Kishorn school received over 130 bibles to add to its school library at that time, which is maybe an indication of just how many children were attending the school.
The first state school was built across the road from the Meeting House just before the turn of the century and the premises became vacant. However a local board of trustees was established, mostly comprising of church elders, to manage the building as a church. The Meeting House continued to be used as a church right up until around 2006. But with no toilet or kitchen facilities, the building was used less and less. It was also used as a polling station during elections, but this ceased after the 2014 Independence Referendum with the building being officially declared as ‘unfit for purpose’. It has not been used since then. But now, as of last month, work is being undertaken to convert the Meeting House into a habitable building once more and I am delighted to be able to document the conversion from start to end. You can follow these updates on the Kishorn Online website, Facebook page and also here on the blog.
The Stromeferry Bypass. Need I say any more. I have not heard any updates for months. We continue to wait for the council to announce their chosen option for a replacement which will be either a new bypass through Glen Udalain, diverting from the current road between Attadale and the top of the Auchtertyre hill, or a new bridge crossing at Strome with a Lochcarron bypass. Money wise, it seems that the Glen Udalain route is cheaper and therefore I assume this will be the route chosen. If you have read the option plans carefully, you will notice that under the Glen Udalain section is a paragraph which states that to save even more money, the foundations would be laid for a double track road but only a single track road would be tarmaced. In due course and once more funds became available, the second lane would be tarmaced. By the time you put in passing places you might as well just join them all up to create the full second lane! I continue to be disappointed about the lack of support from the Scottish and UK Governments, and our local MPs and MSPs. This is a huge issue, and no help has been offered. The fact is, yes the bypass is a council road, but the council cannot replace it without help from our Governments. There has been so much “council road council problem” that I am beginning to wonder whether anything will actually happen. And if, WHEN, something does go wrong, who will take responsibility? Or will the blame be thrown around like rugby ball?
Speaking of rugby and any sport for that matter, the Kishorn Playing Field Club are putting plans together for this year. We have set dates and activities this time which we hope will make it easier for people to plan to come along! We are also putting plans together for a big beach clean in conjunction with various local residents and organisations including the Countryside Rangers. The date for the diary is Saturday 9th June and it is hoped that we can also have an evening event or outdoor ceilidh with a barbecue. Keep up to date with the Dell activity sessions by going to http://www.kishornplayingfieldclub.wordpress.com and . Information will also be posted on the various Kishorn Online pages.
The power of social media has enabled us to follow the clearing of snow from the Bealach na Ba which has seen some huge snow drifts this year! The Bealach is now a priority one route for gritting which means that it is one of the first routes in the area to be gritted and cleared. But the heavy duty snow clearing machines (that are fitted to tractors) were brought in again last month and it is amazing to see before and after photos of the route. We are of course indebted to our local road teams for all their hard work in what has been a bad winter in terms of snow and ice.
The planned six week closure of the Bealach has been pushed back to avoid Easter. The closure will now start on the 9th April and will be closed between the following times:
Monday to Friday: 9am – 4pm CLOSED.
Monday to Friday: 5:30pm – 11pm CLOSED.
The Bealach will remain open on Saturdays and Sundays but motorists will face delays.
The closure is to allow the safe installation of a new broadband cable to the MoD base in Applecross, but I am very pleased to see reports that the cable will now be extended to properties in Applecross too. But 22 houses is not good enough, and when you have all the machines and equipment over there and road closures in place you might as well complete all the property and business connections. Hopefully more properties will soon be added to the 22. Highland Council also intend to do some road repairs and maintenance while the route is closed.
Towards the end of February, Kishorn and neighbouring communities endured an evening and night of very intense thunder, lightning and hail. This caused the power to go off several times. The power was not off for long, and of course a massive thanks to engineers Donnie and Charlie for working in those horrendous conditions to get the power back on. In Kyleakin, a section of the Castle Moil castle was struck by lightning and a chunk of the old stone wall is now missing. It is always a good idea to keep an old phone (that does not run on electricity) for use during power cuts. You can phone 105 during a power cut to report it, and also to hear service information from the local electricity base. Within five minutes of the power going off, a message had been put on this phone number to inform the affected areas (listed by place name and postcode) that they were aware of the problem and that the engineers were already en-route. That is local communication at its best!
It will not be long before we start to see lambs and young livestock appearing in the local fields and crofts. There is some uncertainty as to what happens if a dog in particular is seen to be chasing or attacking or hassling livestock. This is called ‘worrying’ and also covers pregnant livestock.
From Police Scotland:
Under the “Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953”, farmers or crofters have the right to kill an offending dog as a last resort, when other forms of intervention have been unsuccessful. The owner or person in charge of the dog can be charged with an offence and be fined up to £1000, as well as being made to pay a compensation order. The Local Authority can also apply for an order to have an offending dog destroyed. Crofters or farmers, and also members of the public, are encouraged to contact police via 111 (connects to Kyle (or sometimes Lochcarron) police station) or 999 in an emergency to report livestock ‘worrying’. For the sake of the livestock and of your dogs, can I politely ask all dog owners in the community to make sure that their dogs are kept under control at all times when there is livestock nearby. Sheep and livestock ‘worrying’ will not be tolerated. Thank you.
I continue to see, in slight disbelief, that the Highland Council have progressed with plans for their random big outdoor information point shelter things, also to the surprise of many councillors! What a complete and utter waste of money when, in Lochcarron in particular, we already have a successfully iGallery and Information Point. What would we rather… Lochcarron Public Toilets open all year round or some sort of information structure? The Scottish Government in their budget announced their continued contribution to the Highlands (take ‘Highlands’ with a pinch of salt) through the Inverness City Region deal which we have not seen anything of. The Scottish Government have been too relaxed in giving a huge sum of money to the council. I believe that it should of been split by Ward area, with each council ward receiving a certain amount of money to spend on their own projects. Will we see anything of the millions given to the region? We wait in hope.
Also announced in the Scottish Government budget was their plans to build 50,000 homes. I will do all I can to get as many new houses for the area as possible, in a place desperate for more housing to keep people in the area. Thank you to all the local people that have already offered their support. But it is maybe also a time to think about some sort of local trust or board that buys and renovates empty houses, and then offers them for rent on the local property market. Several schemes already exist across the Highlands and Islands and have been successful in retaining full time residents in the community. Something to think about.
It was announced that Applecross firm Northwind Engineering, who have their boatyard in Kishorn, were awarded a contract by fish farm company Scottish Sea Farms to build a brand new landing craft for the SSF site in Loch Nevis. It is fantastic that local companies like this one are thriving and it allows people to stay and work in the area. The full statement can be found in the News section of the Kishorn Online website but here is a small section from it :
“Applecross-based firm Northwind Engineering has begun work on its largest contract to date, having been appointed by Scottish Sea Farms, one of the country’s leading producers of responsibly farmed salmon, to build a new state-of-the-art landing craft worth £700,000.”
“Not only is the landing craft the engineering firm’s biggest project in terms of value, it’s also its biggest in terms of physical size too, measuring 17.5m long and 7.25m wide. Equipped with an Amco Veba crane with a 30-tonne/metre lift, and offering an overall deck load of 35 tonnes, it will be powered by two Doosan engines whose advanced technologies offer maximum fuel efficiency with minimum emissions.”
Here are the planned opening hours for our own Kishorn businesses:
Currently open Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays 10:30am – 4:30pm.
Open full time from the 23rd March 10:30am – 4:30pm.
Currently open Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays 10am – 3:30pm.
Open full time from the 19th March (hours tbc).
Reopens on the 20th March.
Open every day (closed Mondays) 10am – 5pm.
The Kishorn Online website has had a revamp with a new design and new information pages. There are new History pages which are currently under construction, but this section will make up over a quarter of the whole website. The News page is now being regularly updated. The email address remains the same, as do the Facebook and Instagram pages. Keep in touch! I would as always be very pleased to hear from you.
The Selfie Box will be coming out of ‘Winter Mode’ soon and new displays will be going up. I’m planning to put the ‘History Fact of the Month’ up in the Selfie Box too. Maybe you have a red telephone box in your community that needs adopting… please get in touch because I would love to see a red Selfie Box trail. I can offer guidance and advice from our own one here in Kishorn, and set it up with the basic window & external signage and selfie cards. It does not involve a lot of work, apart from a clean and tidy every few months. But of course the BT adoption scheme means that each community can put their own spin on these iconic structures.
The official start of the tourist season is just a week or two away and I’d like to wish all our local businesses the very best for the coming season. I would also like to wish you all, the readers, the best for 2018 though I know that we are now well into the new year! There are lots of exciting projects being planned for Kishorn this year, and we are of course looking forward to some Spring and Summer days with sunshine. Keep up to date with everything right here, through Kishorn Online. Not only do I document Kishorn’s past, or post about goings on in the present day, its also all about the future. The future of Kishorn.