A visit to an ancestor's island home will precede the release of a book about that ancestor.

Liz MacRae Shaw told The Skye Times: "Alan and Barbara Squires from Australia are travelling to Rona on Sunday 20 August with some of their distant MacRae relatives from Portree.

"All of them are descended from Janet MacKenzie.

"She lived on a house on the shore at Big Harbour.  Her husband was drowned in a shipwreck off Rona in 1822.  For many years afterwards she kept a lamp in her window to help vessels in the Sound of Raasay.

"Captain Otter, the commander of a naval survey vessel, met her and wrote to Alan Stevenson, engineer to the Commissioners of the Northern Lighthouses.  Captain Otter recommended that the 'philanthropic widow' be paid for her efforts.

"In 1857 the Stevensons built a lighthouse on Rona and her light was no longer needed.  She emigrated to Australia with her son and there is now a large MacKenzie clan there."

The visit will precede the Skye Book Festival where Liz will be talking about her latest historical novel, No Safe Anchorage.  Liz, another of Janet's descendents, has written about janet and a young Robert Louis Stevenson. 

 

 

 

The Stromeferry Bypass will see more work taking place in Spring 2018.

The closure is intended to allow for work to remove unstable rocks.

Colin Howell the Head of Infrastructure at Highland Council stated that a significant rock removal had been identified, costing around £1M.  He continued that the work will require significant traffic management.  As yet, the Highland Council cannot be definitive about what traffic implications will be.  As yet, a road closure has not been confirmed.  

"With regard to the longer term solution the targeted STAG stage 2 will be submitted to Transport Scotland in the very near future, and the work that HITRANS have commissioned to review the viability of a long term road and rail sharing operation – which is currently ruled out by Network Rail, will be finalised late summer – this will inform whether this option can be reconsidered with regard to its viability."

It was closed by 10 significant rock falls between 1990 and 2012.  After a landslide in December 2011 the bypass was shut for four months.

The Highland Council is also looking at a long-term solution to the problems at the 1960's-built bypass.  Solutions to the problem include re-routing the road at an estimated cost of £85m, a bridge costing about £100m and a tunnel costing about £171m.

Concrete pouring for an EE mast took place today (Thursday 17 August) above Minginish Community Hall.

The helicopter braved windy conditions.

EE applied for planning permission for a new mast on the hill above Minginish Hall in 2016. 

Photograph by Nick Duffill.  

A project aiming to improve the car park at the Fairy Pools has today (Wednesday 16 August) received £100k of funding.

Highland Councillors approved the funding.

The existing 30 space car park is a step closer to accommodating the planned 137 cars and approximately 20 mini-buses and camper vans.  

Last year, the Fairy Pools attracted over 108,000 visitors.  

 

Sleat Community Trust has been awarded £20,000 by players of People’s Postcode Lottery for the Tormore Forest Renewal Project.

Tormore Forest is being felled in carefully controlled stages under local ownership by Sleat Community Trust.  

With funding from Postcode Local Trust, volunteers will soon be able to grow new tree stock for the forest in their own tree nursery.  

A path network for walking and cycling is also planned.

Research into the history, archaeology and environment of the forest is set to create information and interpretive boards for all to enjoy. 

Henrik Micski, Chair of Sleat Renewables Limited said: “This exciting project will provide native hardwood saplings for local people to replant thereby sustaining our community wood fuel supply and provide a forest for future generations to enjoy."

The foundations of the project will be delivered over the next 12 months by community volunteers advised and assisted by local expertise including educational institutions, health care providers, forestry experts and land managers to ensure that the very best can be made of the grant funding.

The tree nursery will provide the opportunity to learn new horticultural skills and we are looking forward to working with our local community, schools and colleges, mental health support groups and young carers.  In addition, improving and extending the path networks will provide greater recreational opportunities increasing the well-being of all involved.

Postcode Local Trust is a grant-giving charity funded entirely by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

 

Portree could be one of the locations for a free open public Wi-Fi system.

Members are to be asked to approve proposals to expand the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal funded free open public Wi-Fi system to 14 towns across Highland.

Town centres recommended for the free Wi-Fi programme are Alness, Aviemore, Dingwall, Dornoch, Drumnadrochit, Fort Augustus, Fort William, Invergordon, Nairn, Portree, Tain, Thurso, Ullapool and Wick.

 A report will go to the Highland Council’s Places Committee on 16 August detailing the plans for approval.

The City Wi-Fi project, led by the Council and funded by the Inverness and Highlands City Region Deal, aims to create a free open public Wi-Fi system across the Highlands for visitors and residents. By being available 24/7, 365 days per year, it aims to stimulate economic growth and increase digital inclusion.

Increasingly such digital connectivity is seen as essential if the Highlands are to be innovative and keep their competitive place in the tourism market. The project also offers the opportunity to gather data about local users and tourist activity, and the creation of a wireless infrastructure in a town centre allows other innovative technology, such as smart traffic management technology to be utilised.

The first phase of the Inverness City Wi-Fi project, branded Ness Wi-Fi, is providing fast internet coverage in a pilot area including the Victorian Market, Falcon Square and surrounding streets. The system is providing reliable fast internet usage to users, whilst being family friendly and content filtered with average daily user number of between 300 – 500 users. Users also have language choices when logging into the system (with Gaelic coming on-line).

Phase 2 of the project is currently being installed to roll out the coverage across the city centre and along the river to Eden Court, the Northern Meeting Park and Ardross Street Coach Drop off.

Fourteen other towns have now been identified for funding for free Wi-Fi on the basis of the anticipated benefits to tourism and local economy.

Councillor Allan Henderson, Chair of the Places Committee said: “It has always been an ambition since the start of the City Wi-Fi project to extend free Wi-Fi across Highland. I am sure that people across the Highlands will whole-heartedly welcome this plan which is designed to bring a fantastic boost to these areas and help to regenerate town centres.”

A list of potential ideas for the Plock has been released.

Ideas, gathered from suggestions during the Kyle Conversation, Facebook posts and individual proposals, include a campsite, a golf course, dog exercise area and wildlife hide.

Kyle and Lochalsh Community Trust will explore the feasibility of the ideas as soon as the Plock ownership transfer is finalised.  

These ideas will be available on a form to fill out either during the Kyle Gala event or in the Kyle Library or the Trust's office.

The Trust are keen to hear from younger generations.

Lochalsh Junior Pipe Band and Ross and Cromarty Pipes & Drums School became World Pipe Band Champions in their respective grades at the weekends competition in Glasgow.  .

Highland Council Piping Instructors Niall Matheson and Niall Stewart, and drumming Instructor Drew Caldwell, with their bands 'Ross and Cromarty Pipes & Drums School' (Novice A) and 'Lochalsh Junior Pipe Band' (Novice B) achieved the ultimate accolade.

They were warmly congratulated and thanked for all the additional time they spend working with these groups by the Councils Music Development Officer, Norman Bolton, at a meeting of all Music Instructors on Monday.

Norman said: “Winning a competition at this level is a huge achievement, not only from a playing perspective but also in overcoming the immense additional difficulties associated with living in the Highlands,  while competing in a largely central belt based activity.  The bands success is also testament to the support of local communities, parents and the pupils who choose to participate in addition to their weekly lessons.” 

Two sisters, reported as missing, have been found in Northern Ireland.

The search for the girls took place in Skye and Fort William, where the girls had previously been known to camp with their father.

Grace McKinney, eight, and Kara McKinney, five, were thought to have travelled to Northern Ireland on Thursday.

 

Officers had appealed for information and said their priority was to establish the two girls' well-being.

At about 22:00 on Monday, Tayside Police said: "We can confirm Grace and Kara McKinney, who were missing from Perthshire have been traced safe and well in Northern Ireland."

 

A team of veterans affected by military operations on a round-Britain sailing expedition are due to at the Isle of Skye. 

The Turn to Starboard Round Britain Challenge set sail from Falmouth harbour on Saturday, August 5 with seventeen crew members – many with little or no sailing experience – working together to circumnavigate Britain on board a 92-foot tall ship. 

The 2000-mile expedition has been organised by Turn to Starboard, a charity based at Falmouth which helps hundreds of military personnel suffering with physical injuries or mental trauma by providing sailing courses and family sailing trips. The aim of the voyage is to help participants re-engage, reintegrate and gain new skills to help start new careers. 

The crew are sailing in a clockwise direction, visiting places such as Liverpool, Oban, Isle of Skye, Newcastle and Ipswich. The Isle of Skye follows stops in Liverpool and the Isle of Man and depending on weather conditions, the crew are expected to sail on the island between Wednesday 23 and Friday 25 August. 

Turn to Starboard was set up four years ago by former RAF leader and CEO, Shaun Pascoe who was the leader of a helicopter medical emergency response team in the RAF, yet after finding it difficult to adjust to normal life outside of the forces he embarked on a Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Yachtmaster course and within two weeks of sailing he felt in a better place. He now invests his time in helping others to feel the same and skippered the vessel on a similar expedition last year. 

Shaun said: “Following the success of last year’s Round Britain Challenge, we are excited that The Endeavour Fund has agreed to support a second expedition to sail a group of veterans affected by military operations around the British Isles. Once again the aim of the challenge is to help participants re-engage, reintegrate and gain new skills while raising awareness of the challenges veterans can face after leaving Service life.