Sunday, January 19, 2020
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Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch has the joint highest number of separate community-owned-assets of all the Scottish Parliament constituencies, according to a new Scottish Government report.

As of December 2018, Kate Forbes MSP’s constituency has 79 community assets owned by 58 different groups covering almost 24,000 hectares (23,971.73) – and an increase of over 1,000 hectares over the past 18 months. Argyll and Bute also has 79 community-owned assets, with 50 groups but covering only 5,500 hectares.

The Western Isles with 142,132 hectares in community ownership, dwarfs the combined Highland region total of 60,042 hectares, as the Na h-Eileanan an Iar constituency has 63 community-owned assets by 40 groups, but covering a far greater area of land.

People convicted of wildlife crimes such as deer poaching, hare coursing, killing badgers or birds of prey should receive bigger fines and longer prison sentences than currently available says Scottish Land & Estates (SLE), the organisation which represents landowners and rural businesses.

Following an evidence session with the Scottish Parliament's Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform Committee yesterday (10 December 2019), SLE says that those who undertake illegal acts should face strong penalties proportionate to the crime and in line with those for similar crimes, with sanctions applied consistently and clearly to act as a real deterrent.

Over recent days a number of people have been contacted by telephone by someone claiming to be from their bank, saying that their accounts have been compromised, and then asking them to transfer their money into a ‘safe account’, which in reality belongs to the fraudsters, Police Scotland are warning.

Not a new scam, but one which is doing the rounds again.  Inquiries into these incidents are ongoing. 

Sergeant Richard Ross from Prevention and Interventions in N Division, Highlands and Islands, is working with colleagues to raise awareness about these scams and how to protect yourself from them.

Councillors on Highland Council have approved a proposal to substantially increase the payment to foster carers, following a campaign by Kate Forbes MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch.

The new payment proposal recognises the valuable role of foster carers in providing a home and care for the most vulnerable children within their Highland community.

The current payment structure for fees paid to foster carers comprises a weekly fee per household, irrespective of the number of children they have placed in their care.

Members of the Highland Violence Against Women (HVAWP) partnership yesterday (Tuesday 10th December)  joined forces at a Scottish Women’s Aid event to officially marked the end of 16 Days of Action Against Gender Based Violence.

Women’s Aid workers, members of the HVAWP, staff from Rape and Sexual Abuse Service Highland and workers from a variety of front line services came together at the collaborative event at Dingwall City Chambers.

The event looked at how to empower survivors of gender-based violence to take part in action to end violence against women and girls. It highlights recently published research by Scottish Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis Scotland about the difficulties of tackling violence against women in rural areas.

Organisers of this year's Blas Festival have reported another successful Blas Festival, with Highland audiences being entertained by some of the country's top musicians, for the 15th year; and are already looking forward to what 2020 has in store for the Gaelic festival.

Blas, which means 'taste' or 'sample', is organised by Fèisean nan Gàidheal in partnership with The Highland Council and took place from 22-30 November in venues across the Highlands and Islands from Aviemore to Barra, Stornoway to Strathy. 

This year's festival featured Niteworks (pictured), Project Smok, Gary Innes Band, Gaelic singer Kathleen MacInnes, Sian, Cape Breton sisters Dawn and Margie Beaton, Tideline's Robert Robertson and Ross Wilson and many more.  

Two roads are closed on the isles of Skye and Raasay due to landslips.

Kylerhea is cut off by the mud slide and the C1239 Lusa – Kylerhea Road is closed at around 3.7km from the Invergarry – Uig trunk road (A87).

The landslip covered the road with mud for about 100-120m.

Kate Forbes MSP has condemned an opposition attempt to end crucial rates reliefs schemes that benefit 11,050 of businesses in the Highlands.

Last week Labour and Tory MSPs on Holyrood's Local Government and Communities Committee voted for a Green amendment to the Non-Domestic Rates Bill that would remove the ability of Scottish Ministers to set the business rates poundage.

Amendment 9, lodged by Andy Wightman MSP, sets out to devolve powers to set business rates to councils. The effect is that rates would no longer be set nationally and business rates reliefs – including the Small Business Bonus and rates relief for nurseries – would automatically end.

Highland councillors approved the findings of a public consultation supporting the introduction of a Highland Transient Visitor Levy and committed to further work to develop an optimal scheme for Highland.

The results of more than 6600 responses gathered through online and face-to-face surveys, alongside a pre-consultation with the tourism industry and written submissions received from representatives from the tourism industry and local communities were considered by councillors.

Support for a Highland Transient Visitor Levy (TVL) scheme was evidenced in the 5,622 responses to the Council’s online questionnaire for businesses, residents and visitors, and the 950 face-to-face visitor surveys.

Congratulations have poured into SEALL after their weekend success at the Scottish Trad awards where they won Community Project of the Year sponsored by Skippinish for their Festival of Small Halls 2018.

Seall said: “We are absolutely delighted. Small Halls is all about the communities, the musicians and the Islands. Thanks so much to the Trad Awards and to everyone who voted for us.”

Reacting to their win Rachel Newton said on Twitter:“Woohoo! Loved my time at Festival of Small Halls this year. Congratulations to the brilliant team @SEALLEventsSkye!”

The photograph shows another full house for another SEALL Festival of Small Halls this time in Elgol with Duncan Chisholm, Jarlath Henderson Innes Watson and Rachel Newton.

Highland Council is making progress in its ambition to provide emergency life support to all pupils in Highland, with twenty-two schools in the region now owning a defibrillator. This comes just eight years after Portree High School led the way, fundraising for its own defibrillator and introducing Lucky2BHere emergency life support training. 

Over recent years, Highland Council has actively promoted collaboration between head teachers of secondary and special schools and Lucky2BHere, a charity which delivers defibrillators and emergency life support training across Scotland.

Currently, 20 secondary schools and two special schools have a defibrillator on site, and the focus is now on ensuring a commitment from the remaining schools to progress this in their local community.

The newly-launched Hebridean Whale Trail was named a finalist for the New National Treasure (UK) Award.

Launched by the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, the trail is the first of its kind in the UK and connects 33 places for land-based viewing of whales, dolphins and porpoises.

54 affordable homes are planned for Broadford.

The development, proposed by the Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association, has recently been submitted for approval.

A spokesperson from Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association told Skye Times Online: "Our project architect has recently lodged a Planning in Principle application for a total of 54 homes for affordable rent at Campbell's Farm in Broadford.

A two week-long refurbishment of Scalpay's electricity network took place recently.

The SSEN's recent upgrade saw the team commute to the site every day to ensure the island’s 5km of electricity network was ready for winter.

The 16 members of SSEN staff, including members of the tree-cutting and overhead lines teams, focussed on cutting away branches that had grown too close to the electricity lines; replacing three wooden poles which carry the overhead lines; undergrounding 400m of Low Voltage overhead line which had previously been damaged by high winds and replacing the original pole mounted transformers.

The Skye-based charity Lucky2BHere celebrated their 10th anniversary last month with a dinner dance and presentation evening in Inverness on November 22nd.

The hard-working charity is continuing celebrations right through the rest of the year, with numerous stories coming forward of lives saved and transformed because of the group’s dedication to their cause.

In December 2006 Skye man Ross Cowie suffered a sudden cardiac arrest while taking part in a quiz at his local shinty club, Skye Camanachd. His life was saved due to the pure luck that an ambulance happened to be passing by, the skills of the crew and the life-saving equipment that they carried.

Two workshops held last week gave Portree High School pupils a taste of filmmaking.

The workshops, which were two of 35 delivered by FilmG throughout Scotland, gave pupils the chance to work with a professional filmmaker and actor.

The students made a 5-minute short film in Gaelic, eligible for entry in the National Gaelic Short Film Competition, FilmG.

Alistair MacKay, of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s broadcast studio, SkyeSpace, BBC journalist Alasdair MacLeod, and FilmG Project Officer Ross Christie supported scholars in Portree as they made their films. 

Resurfacing works on the A855 are due to start today (Tuesday 3 December.)

The works, located by Stenscholl, Staffin, will be managed using a convoy vehicle over the next four days.

At yesterday’s meeting of the Skye and Rassay Committee, members were given an update on the Area Capital Roads Maintenance Programme.

The report presented lists completed surface and surface dressing sites and highlights projects still to be completed before March next year.

These include works to the A850 at Lynedale Lodge, the C1242 Tarskavaig loop, the C1241 Drumfearn section and two laybys along the U4780 at Waterstein.

Local coastguard teams helped rescue a casualty from an inaccessible hillside yesterday (Sunday 1 December.)

Kyle and Portree Teams, along with the Applecross Team, were tasked by the police to assist with the rescue at Tornapress, near Loch Kishorn.

The casualty was rescued by stretcher and handed into the care of the Scottish Ambulance Service.


Local businesses are asked to pledge support for Skye and Lochalsh Young Carers.

The Young Carers organisation currently supports over 60 youngsters, from the ages of 5 to 18.

Lucy Cooke, Community Engagement Officer for Skye, Lochaber and Wester Ross under the Highland Aspiring Communities Project, funded by European Social Fund, told Skye Times Online: "I am asking all third, public and private sector organisations (where appropriate) to sign my pledge to promise ongoing support and an 'open door policy' to all Skye and Lochalsh Young Carers.

Two lambs were born on Christmas Day this year.

A ewe in Earlish, owned by Fay MacLeod and Philip MacAskill, unexpectedly gave birth to the twins on December 25.

The lambs have been named Holly and Ivy.


The Isle of Skye Pipe Band will not be playing in Portree Square this Hogmanay.

Peter MacDonald told Skye Times Online that the decision was taken to allow members of the band to spend time with their families all around the island.  Other band members will be playing with bands in Edinburgh to welcome in the New Year.

Mr MacDonald said: "2018 has been a very busy and successful year for the band. We are indebted for the community support, to our sponsors and local business's for providing assistance throughout the year."

A multi-agency rescue was launched to assist a man who had fallen at the Quiraing.

Skye Mountain Rescue, the police and coastguard were all involved in the rescue, which took place on Saturday 29 December.

The casualty had sustained a serious lower leg injury after his fall and was transported by helicopter to Stornoway Airport and by ambulance to the Western Isles Hospital.

Skye Mountain Rescue Team said: "We're fast approaching the fiftieth shout of the year, which will make 2018 one of the busiest to date for the team."

"You take your life into your own hands driving about on Skye nowadays," claims Dani Anslow, after her sister-in-law was involved in a two-vehicle crash on Saturday 29 December.

The collision took place at Sligachan when Sharon Anslow had a head-on crash with tourists who were on the wrong side of the road.

Dani took to Facebook to share her concern, saying: "She drove around a blind corner at 50mph, met a Fiat 500 with two tourists on her side of the road.

"She couldn't avoid them and after a smash, she ended up down a steep embankment, trapped in her car and in a pretty bad way. She had to be cut out of her car and airlifted to Raigmore Hospital. The tourists were both taken to hospital with injuries still unknown but not thought to be too serious.

The creative director of a performing arts promotion charity has received Royal recognition for 28 years of dedicated service.

Duncan MacInnes, of Skye Events for All (SEALL) in Sleat was honoured with an MBE in the New Year Honours 2019 List for his services to the arts and natural environment on the Isle of Skye. 

Born in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, 68-year-old Duncan came to live in Sleat when he was a young adult and took up a post as countryside ranger at the Clan Donald centre at Armadale Castle. It was here he first began promoting performing arts events, after the Old Stables building was turned into a restaurant.

Duncan said: "Because I was involved in the local drama group here, Edinburgh Mime Company approached me and said they wanted to come to Skye. I got them into the village hall. That got me thinking the Stables at Armadale Castle would make an excellent performance space and, by default, I became the centre's arts officer. We put on events with the likes of Capercaillie, Seolas, Archie Fisher and Hamish Imlach."

Police have confirmed that the man who died in a fatal road collision was Matthew Tomlinson.

The 29-year-old had been previously been reported missing.

Police are appealing for witnesses to the one vehicle collision, which took place on the A87 at Glengarry.

Officers found the collision at around 8.45am on Monday, December 24, as part of searches to trace Mr Tomlinson.

A man was found deceased within the vehicle and he has now been formally identified as Mr Tomlinson, who was from the Dumbarton area.

His family has been updated.

A faulty transformer has resulted in a power cut that originally affected 241 households, says the SSEN.

The fault, which was reported at 12:34am on Friday 28 December, was found in the Loch Eyre area.  

SSEN told Skye Times Online that they expect everyone to have power restored by 11am.  They estimate there are currently 161 customers without power.

Highlanders are encouraged to take four simple steps to prepare for potentially tough weather conditions this winter.

A new survey revealed that over a third of people do not feel prepared to combat extreme weather.

The Scottish Government’s ‘Ready Scotland’ campaign encourages individuals, families, communities and businesses to think about what they can do to prepare for unexpected events over winter.

They recommend four steps - keeping informed, being ready at home, on the road and at work; and thinking of others in the community.

Kate Forbes MSP is also urging individuals, communities and businesses in her Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch constituency to lend a hand to those who might find it harder to cope with extreme weather conditions.

The Scottish Government has already taken steps to make sure that people in Scotland don’t face hardship over winter. Emergency services have robust response plans in place following last year’s so-called ‘Beast from the East’ storm, and over one million people have benefitted from the Winter Fuel Allowance under the Scottish Government’s new social security system.

A search for a 41-year-old man kept Skye Mountain Rescue busy on Boxing Day.

The man was reported overdue from an overnight shelter and the team headed into the Cuillins to search for him.

The Mountain Rescue Team described the call out as "a long day in poor conditions."

The man turned up safe and well after having to deviate from his intended return route.

A teenage RNLI recruit was involved in her first call-out this morning (Thursday 27 December.)

At 12:21am, Portree Lifeboat was launched to assist the ambulance service with a medical emergency on Raasay.  

The lifeboat crew of seven included 17-year-old Chloe Urquhart, who joined the RNLI as soon as she was able. 

Chloe earlier stated: "The idea that at any moment I could be called away from my Christmas celebrations to help someone in an emergency is a pretty daunting thought.

Highlands & Islands Regional MSP Rhoda Grant was concerned to learn that five patients travel from Skye to Raigmore Hospital three times a week for kidney dialysis treatment.

When a patient's kidneys fail, dialysis treatment keeps the body in balance by removing waste, salt and extra water to prevent them from building up in the body.

The MSP communicated with the Elaine Mead, Chief Executive of NHS Highland to ask if they had considered installing one dialysis machine into Broadford Hospital for the use of locally based patients. In the response Rhoda Grant was advised that up until two years ago nobody was requiring haemodialysis in the area. They concluded that they were trying to find a local solution to respond to the current need.

Scottish snow sports have boosted the economy by almost £31 million, according to latest estimates.

Additionally, negative projections made in 2011 on likely Scottish skiing and snowboard trends have failed to materialise – with additional investment in Scotland's five ski centres considered a key factor in maintaining visitor numbers.

These new figures apply latest figures of 'skier days' for the 2017/18 season to existing methodology to give an economic benefit of £30,892,375 to Scotland's economy. It is estimated that for every £1 spent on the Scottish slopes, a further £4 is spent in the surrounding area at Glenshee, Glencoe, Cairngorm, Nevis Range and the Lecht.

There were over a quarter of a million skier days recorded in 2017/18. While this is less than the peak of 631,000 skier days recorded in 1991 it is markedly up on the ten-year average to 2010 (of less than 200,000) which was seen as a likely future for Scottish snow sports.

Had the number of skiers and boarders visiting Scotland's slopes continued at less than 200,000 each season it would have meant £6 million less to Scotland's economy last year.

A man and woman have been reported the Procurator Fiscal following complaints of wild goat hunting.

Outrage was sparked after reports of their wild goat trophy hunting on Islay earlier in September.

Police Scotland have confirmed that the 33-year-old woman and 41-year-old man from America have been reported for firearms offences.


The road is closed in both directions in the Glengarry area after a fatal accident.

Police say the accident involved one vehicle and a man has been found deceased inside it.

The man is still to be formally identified, but the family of missing man, Matthew Tomlinson, have been informed.

Police are making enquiries into the collision. While this is under investigation the road remains closed. Traffic is being diverted via Invermoriston.


The first affordable housing development in Staffin for two decades could commence in Summer 2019.

The development of seven affordable houses, a medical surgery and a business space will be built on Stenscholl common grazings, close to the primary school.

Staffin Community Trust (SCT) is hopeful that the legal process currently underway to purchase the site and remove it from crofting tenure will be completed and the land in its ownership early in the new year.

Highland Council granted planning permission last March and the Scottish Land Fund subsequently awarded a grant of £231,700 to allow SCT to purchase the ground and the current Staffin Surgery from NHS Highland, plus legal fees and other costs.

The project also includes a business units’ building and a workshop/storage base. SCT and NHS Highland have had encouraging discussions about the relocation of the current surgery to one half of the business building. SCT would buy the existing surgery – which dates back to the 1950s and is known locally as the Nurses’ Cottage – so it could be converted into an affordable home. Staffin’s district nurses had lived in the cottage when was first built but it is no longer fit for purpose.

The Staffin development is included in Sir Lewis Ritchie’s independent report on out-of-hours health care provision in Skye, Lochalsh and South West Ross and the development has enjoyed strong community and political backing for several years.

Concerns have been raised for a man who has not been in contact with his family since Friday 21 December.

Matthew Tomlinson, aged 29, is believed to have been in the Kyle and Torridon areas on Friday.  He was due to travel to Dumbarton, but has not returned home.

Police say: "His family are concerned for him and need to make sure he is okay."

Matthew was driving a black Vauxhall Insignia with the registration DY62 YNF.

Portree has come last in a study of Highland town centres' overall quality.

In a report published by Highland Council, Portree ranked bottom in the town centre health check.

Highland Council say the town "performed particularly poorly for its lack of cycling facilities, difficult movement through the town centre and its overcrowded by station."

The report also went on to note that the pavements were in "extremely poor condition in places, the problem exacerbated by the huge number of tourists crowding the streets."  It continued: "Potholes and cracks were witnessed in almost all areas, with the surface at the harbour being particularly uneven."

Businesses and the public have until midnight on Saturday 22 December to nominate their favourite shop, bar or restaurant for the Taste Local Awards 2019, which celebrate the use of local food by food and drink businesses in Skye & Lochalsh. The online nomination process takes seconds at

Local food fans can nominate businesses that promote and support the local food network in ten different categories. They include Best Restaurant, Best Restaurant with Rooms, Best Café or Coffee Shop; Best Community Café; Best Pop up, Food Event or Takeaway; Best Hotel; Best B&B or Guesthouse; Best Retailer; Best Pub and Best Newcomer.

The awards are run by the Skye & Lochalsh Food Link CIC in partnership with Skye Connect and have been relaunched this year to better celebrate and promote the use of local food by businesses in the area. It is also hoped that the awards will raise awareness of the Food Link van service run by Skye & Lochalsh Food Link CIC which helps connect and distribute local produce to local outlets.

Portree is “the biggest man-power hole” when it comes to volunteers for HM Coastguard in Skye and Lochalsh.

Area commander, Murdo Macaulay, told Skye Times Online: “We have four coastguard stations in Skye and Lochalsh and Portree is currently our shortest staffed station”

Other coastguard stations in the area include Dunvegan, Duntulm and Kyle.

“Portree in particular is in a good strategic position to offer support to Dunvegan in the west and north to Duntulm,” said Murdo.

“Very often, we need to call out every team on Skye to get enough man-power to fulfil our tasks or provide Rescue back up to other teams or partner services”

“We have to have the ability to respond quickly and if we are casting all the teams together, we can't always achieve this.”

Murdo said the Coastguard are looking for between six to eight Portree-based volunteers.

Run straight into the New Year with the Glenmore races.

Two fun runs will be held on Saturday 5 January.  Ages five and up can run the two-mile fun run, which starts at 11am.

The extra fun run is four miles long and starts at 12pm.  Anyone ages 14 and over can enter.

The Glemore 10k will begin at 12pm and is open to anyone ages 16 and over.  

Soup, baking and hot drinks are available in the Skye Camanachd Clubhouse in Portree, where registration takes places.

A Michelin-recommended Skye restaurant will be celebrating Burns Night in Glasgow next year.

Portree's Scorrybreac will return to famous fish market, the Briggait, where diners will enjoy a three course dinner.

Featuring the traditional haggis, neeps and tatties in a social banquet setting, the event will be accompanied by an on-site whisky and cocktail bar.

A traditional ceilidh will help diners enjoy the Burns Night celebrations.  

Scorrybreac's Burns Supper will take place on Friday 25 January from 6pm to midnight.

Tickets are priced at £35 per person and can be bought here.

Mobile phone coverage in Scotland is poorer than other parts of the UK, says Ofcom.

A report from Ofcom suggests that only 38% of the landmass has good 4G coverage from all operators - while 82% of England is covered.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) called for stronger action to improve Scottish mobile coverage.

According to Ofcom, 38% of Scotland's landmass has good 4G coverage from all operators compared with the UK average of 66%; 4G mobile coverage from at least one operator is available in 78% of the landmass and just over half of Scotland can receive voice services from all four operators, up from 39% in June 2017.

Ofcom said it would attach binding coverage rules for mobile operators when it auctions off two new frequency spectrums.

Philip Marnick, Ofcom's spectrum group director, said: "Mobile coverage has improved across the UK this year, but too many people and businesses are still struggling for a signal. We're particularly concerned about mobile reception in rural areas.

"As we release new airwaves for mobile, we're planning rules that would extend good mobile coverage to where it's needed. That will help ensure that rural communities have the kind of mobile coverage that people expect in towns and cities, reducing the digital divide."

Distilleries from Skye and Raasay form one of nine reasons to head for Scotland, according to VisitScotland.

The tourism board listed Torabhaig Distillery, Talisker Distillery and the Isle of Raasay Distillery as a major draw for whisky-loving explorers.

VisitScotland stated in their Nine Reasons Why You Should Visit Scotland In 2019 list: "The new Hebridean Whisky Trail gives you the opportunity to embark on a whisky journey like no other.

"Explore Torabhaig Distillery, Isle of Raasay Distillery, Talisker Distillery and the Isle of Harris Distillery to taste some of Scotland’s finest whiskies, take educational tours, and marvel at the stunning scenery around you."

The full list can be read here.


Inverness' Northern Meeting Park will be transformed into the House of Fun when iconic band, Madness, arrives in the city next summer.

The band will headline a huge outdoor concert in Northern Meeting Park, Inverness on Friday 23rd August 2019.

Famous for unique, quirky pop classics including House of Fun; Driving in My Car; It Must Be Love; Our House; and Baggy Trousers, Madness will bring their love of pop to the North of Scotland.

Speaking about the upcoming concert, the band said: "We're excited to be heading back to Scotland to perform outdoors, this time in the Highlands. Our Scottish fans always give us such a warm welcome and we'll offer them a great concert featuring a superb line-up of our hits, which we can all dance along to!"

A primary school pupil from Raasay has won Kate Forbes MSP's constituency Christmas card competition.

Tabitha Carslaw, who is in primary seven, beat off competition from hundreds of other children from across the Highlands to have her design  printed on a mountain gondola. 

Tabitha's entry also features on the front cover of Ms Forbes' annual Christmas card.

This year's prize was kindly donated by Nevis Range, and thousands of tourists will see Tabitha's design of a Highland cow on a snowboard on one of the mountain gondolas at Aonach Mor near Ben Nevis.

Kate Forbes MSP said: "I was delighted to congratulate Tabby Carslaw on winning my Christmas card competition. Tabby's card looked brilliant on the side of a gondola, and I was really excited to visit Nevis Range with her to see the finished product.

"Whilst the Christmas card competition is a bit of fun, there is a serious element to it as well. I want children to grow up knowing their local elected representatives and understanding that they have a role to play in local democracy."

Bayfield Car Park could be extended, if a planning application submitted to Highland Council is approved.

It is proposed to remove the derelict squash courts building and make use of the old tennis courts area to extend the existing car park.

The application, submitted by Portree and Braes Community Trust, also states that it is hoped to make provisions for overnight motor-home parking.

Talisker Distillery could receive major improvements to car parking facilities, if a planning application submitted to Highland Council gets the go ahead.

In the application, it was noted that the distillery visitor centre regularly attracts around 65,000 visitors each year.  The application went on to say that current parking facilities are under significant pressure.  "Due to the current lack of parking at Talisker, visitors are having to park on streets throughout the village, causing conflict with other road users and impacting on the local road network," the application continued.

Currently, the car park offers 42 spaces, with 11 spaces in the overspill car park at Carbost Pier.  Diageo also has planning permission for 58 more car parking spaces and 5 camper van spaces on land north of the overflow car park.  

The application stated that Diageo also purchased land south of the existing car park "as an opportunity to consolidate visitor and staff parking in a single location while also offering the opportunity to improve pedestrian accessibility into the Distillery visitor centre."

Raasay Distillery are having a barrel of fun with their very special Christmas Tree.

Made entirely out of upcycled casks and decorated with lights, the unusual tree has already gained widespread admiration.

Using around 50 ex-sherry and bourbon casks, the team built the tree by stacking barrels and strapping them together with old cask staves to keep it from being blown over by wintery gusts. Joseph McGowan, Distillery Operator, and Iain Robertson, Head Distiller, constructed it over the course of an evening, with the star made up from a broken sherry casks by Lead Tour Guide Calum Gillies, who added:

"We wanted something that celebrated our first full year of production, and the island doesn't have a community Christmas tree so this seemed like the perfect compromise. We have it wrapped in a variety of lights, so walking past the distillery or coming over on the ferry at night, you can see it lit up like a, well, Christmas Tree."

"The community has really appreciated it, and it just makes the whole place feel a lot more festive and unique. Next year we can think of more decorations, but come 2020 we'll maybe have one of the first bottles of Raasay single malt to put at the top instead of a star!"

The Distillery team posted on their official account: “We’re an enterprising bunch here at Raasay Distillery. When the festive season approached and we didn’t have a tree handy, we made do with the best materials to hand - Barrels! We might boast the #BestDistilleryView, but what about #BestDistilleryTree?”

People living and working in remote parts of Scotland are invited to take part in a documentary project.

Production service, The Real Thing, will be filming a documentary about changing lives in the Highlands and Islands.

The Real Thing founder, Gregor Sinclair, told Skye Times Online: "In particular, I'm after people whose work or lifestyle is dependent on local economy, culture or natural landscape, and who have close ties to the area and its history. People working in agriculture, energy, local business, conservation and so on.

Workmates from Skye are wanted for a new baking series.

Raise the Roof Productions are searching for teams of workmates to get involved in a reality TV programme to be filmed and aired in 2019.

The series, with the working title “Flour Power”, will see colleagues’ pit their baking skills against one another to discover who can rightly claim to be the Baking King or Queen of the office.

Teams of four people of all abilities are encouraged to sign up, with participants being filmed at home and in the office before a big bake sale decides the winner.

All kinds of baking are welcome, including cakes, pastries and breads.

Interested parties should contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

A road onto rail solution is likely to be used for future Stromeferry works, Highland Council say.

The 2018 annual inspection of the rock face identified four very high risk slopes and seven high risk areas.  Highland Council say work is currently ongoing to establish the most appropriate stabilisation techniques for the four very high risk slopes.

On Friday 14 December, partners from school transport, emergency services and the NHS attended a Lessons Learned workshop to consider the impact of the recently completed works and what improvements can be made during future works.

Highland Council say Network Rail have already indicated their willingness to work with the Council to minimise disruption and also use the recently adopted signalling system.

Councillor Henderson Chair of The Highland Council’s Environment Development and Infrastructure Committee said: “We are well aware of the recent assessment and we are committed to find the funds necessary to undertake these works, a paper will be brought to committee at the end of January where we shall consider both the timing and funding of the works. I am confident that the design team will provide excellent advice to allow the works to progress. Works to the existing rock face is a sticking plaster with the long term solution being recognised by all as the goal."

A Skye campsite earned Gold in the Great Outdoors Magazine Awards.

Glenbrittle Campsite was described as "the perfect base for some of Britain's finest hill-walking."

The campsite fought off competition from other campsites in the Lake District, North Yorkshire and the Isle of Arran to take the gold award.

Glenbrittle is also known for its Cuillin Coffee Company.

The campsite team stated: "Thanks to all our happy campers and coffee lovers who reviewed us!"

Head chef at The Three Chimneys is making a return to the MasterChef kitchen.

Scott Davies is the only contestant from Scotland, taking part in MasterChef: The Professionals Rematch, due to broadcast on BBC Two on Thursday 27 December.

In this one-off festive special, the MasterChef judges catch up with five former MasterChef: The Professionals finalists whose careers have been transformed by the competition, before inviting them back to the MasterChef kitchen for one last battle to impress.

Scott, who joined The Three Chimneys in June 2015, is visited at the restaurant by judge Gregg Wallace – five years after he first appeared on MasterChef: The Professionals, finishing runner-up in the 2013 series.

Scott said: "My time on Masterchef: The Professionals is one of the highlights of my career to date, and I'm thrilled to be returning to the competition this Christmas.

Dunvegan Police Station is likely to be retained, following feedback from the local community.

Buildings in Broadford, Dunvegan and Lochboisdale were the subject of national and local consultations as part of the Police Scotland Estate Strategy.

Work has been ongoing with local communities and partner agencies to identify the best future use of these buildings, since the outcome of the consultation was reported to the Scottish Police Authority in April this year.

It has been proposed that both Dunvegan and Lochboisdale should be retained.  Police say both these buildings could be subject to further review if circumstances change.

Broadford was a service point within a local authority building and has not been used for several years. A working group has been set up to develop a new model for Police Scotland representation locally.

Champions of local food will be recognised in new awards.

Launched by the Skye and Lochalsh, the awards aim to recognise local businesses that buy from local producers.  

Judges include Isle of Skye Fresh Produce founder, Roger Whiddon; Skye Vegetables founder, Anthony Hovey; Skye Free Range founder, Glenys Maclean; the Managing Director of Isle of Skye Distillers Ltd, Alistair Wilson; the Vice Chairperson of the Skye and Lochalsh Micro Abattoir Project, Rachael Jackson and Nanette Muir of the Isle of Skye Sea Salt Company.  

NHS Highland staff have asked members of the public to avoid visiting hospital if they have symptoms of diarrhoea or vomiting.

Ward 6C at Raigmore Hospital has been closed to new admissions due to several patients with the symptoms.


Ward staff will contact next of kin of all patients within the ward to discuss visiting arrangements.

Members of the public are also asked to avoid any hospital or care home if they live with someone who has the symptoms until they have been clear for 48 hours.


Van windows were damaged at a Portree car park.

Police say two van windows were damaged overnight in the Community Centre car park.

Police say equipment from the new skate park had been used to damage the windows.  They have asked anyone with information to phone 101 quoting incident NP4574/18.



A power cut currently affecting up to 217 properties in the Minginish area.

The Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) engineers were alerted to a fault on the high voltage network system at 10:06am this morning (Thursday 13 December.)

The properties affected are mainly in Carbost, Fiscavaig and the surrounding areas.

Engineers are expected to arrive within the next 15 minutes to investigate and restore the power as fast as possible.

The SSEN told Skye Times Online they expect the power to be restored to the affected properties by 1pm this afternoon.

A spokesperson from Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), said: "We'd like to thank our customers for their patience and apologise for any inconvenience caused as our engineers work to safely restore their power as quickly as possible."

Youngsters from Skye, South Uist, Greenock and Glasgow have all been involved in CalMac's Modern Apprenticeship (MA) opportunities.

CalMac say their MA opportunities have more than doubled over the past two years.

As part of the Scottish Government's 'Year of Young People' CalMac has focused recruitment efforts on creating new opportunities for school leavers across the communities it supports.

It now employs 23 MA's across Deck, Engineering, Retail and Port Operation roles, a 130% increase in youth employment opportunities with the company since 2016.

Managing Director, Robbie Drummond said: "This is further evidence of us delivering on our promises to improve services and facilitate sustainable economic growth across our area of operations.

"As a major employer in the area we serve it makes perfect sense to create a stream of trained operators who can move seamlessly into the business. Investment in training is investment in first class future service standards.

"These are proportionately high value jobs that will in the long term bring increased spending power into the communities we support."

The majority of the increase has come from new MAs the company has set up to help improve the flow of skilled workers for the future.

Soil on Mars is "strikingly similar" to that found on Skye.

Researchers say that Martian samples gathered by a NASA robot shared characteristics with basaltic soils found on Skye and Mull.

The discovery was made by a team of scientists at the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen, who studied data beamed back to them.

Dr Benjamin Butler, of the Hutton Institute’s environmental and biochemical sciences group, said the team could compare Martian and Scottish soils as both were measured with similar devices.

“By comparing each of the Martian soils with all 1,500 Scottish soils in our dataset, we consistently find a group of Scottish soil samples that are strikingly similar to those on Mars,” he added.

“There are two sites in Scotland that have particularly similar soil minerals to those found of Mars, located on the basaltic soils of Skye and Mull.

The winners of the 2018 Eilean a’ Cheὸ Civic Awards have been announced.

Jim Campbell, Steve and Marilyn Clarke, volunteers at the Crossroads Care Charity Shop, Caroline Clouston, Calum Campbell, Hannah Buchan, Jenny Duffill and Nan MacKinnon and Monica MacDougall all received recognition for their work in numerous local fields.

Jim Campbell won in the Arts/Music section for his work at Cuillin FM.  Jim spent five years organising Cuillin FM programming, as well as working as a director of the station for seven years. 

Steve and Marilyn Clarke received recognition in the Community category for their work with the Skye and Lochalsh Citizens Advice Bureau.  They have volunteered at the Bureau for 14 years, spending approximately 9,300 hours working there and collectively assisting over 1,000 clients.  

Crossroads Care Charity Shop Volunteers won the Enterprise category.  It was stated: "Without this band of volunteers some families in Skye and Lochalsh would struggle for respite from caring duties as they would not be able to afford it. The volunteers make sure all the donations get the highest price possible to ensure that the most money is made for the cause and are very proud in all that they do."

Police are appealing for information on a vandalism incident in Portree.

Damage was caused to tyres on a vehicle in Cruachan Place.

A spokesperson for Police Scotland told Skye Times Online that the incident was reported on Thursday 6 December and that enquiries are ongoing.



A caravan has been stolen from Waterloo earlier this month.

Police say they Avondale Panther 5900 caravan was stolen between 10am and 6pm on Monday 3 December.  They describe the caravan as a large, double axle with white, green and grey colours.

Any sightings should be reported via 101 using incident reference NP4491/18.

Last Saturday (8 December) Kyle of Lochalsh RNLI hosted their annual Santa’s Grotto raising just over £1000!

Local families got into the Christmas spirit, many donning their Christmas Jumpers, to visit Santa at Kyle lifeboat Station. Throughout the day there was a steady queue of children waiting to visit Santa and get their picture taken with him, whilst the tea, coffee and home baking was in high demand as people tried to warm up. There was also an opportunity for some Christmas shopping from the table sale, whilst the children had the chance to post their Christmas letters to Santa at the North Pole.

A Kyle RNLI spokesperson said: ‘We would like to thank everyone who helped make it such a success.  We would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported us throughout the year and we hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year’.


Scott Davies, Head Chef at The Three Chimneys, is representing Scotland at a prestigious charity event in London.

He is one of six chefs participating in the Great British Chefs Dinner, an evening of fine dining and fundraising in aid of the NSPCC.

Scott, who joined The Three Chimneys in June 2015, is the only chef from a Scottish restaurant to cook at this year’s event, and will create the dessert course on the evening.

Portree Coastguard Rescue Team were called upon to check an alarm call from a member of the public on Sunday morning (December 8th) after concerns were raised about possible pollution from a sunken vessel in the harbour.

The Scottish Environmental Protection officer had been alerted to a sheen on the water near the sunken hull of a former fishing vessel.

A website for Gaelic teachers to share classroom resources has been created by Stòrlann Nàiseanta na Gàidhlig, the Gaelic educational resources organisation.

The website –– is a straightforward facility where teachers can pool their resources, to save time and effort. Material can be uploaded and downloaded and teachers are being urged to share their resources with the site, so they can then be made available to others.

A charity dog walk will be held in the Kyleakin area.

Hosted by the Lochalsh Dog Walk Group, everyone is invited - even those who don't own a dog!

A £5 donation is asked to secure a space on the walk, which will raise funds for Munlochy Animal Aid.

All breeds are welcome.  

The event will take place on Sunday 23 December.  The meeting place will be Kyleakin Village Car Park at 12:30pm.

The planned route can be found here.


An update has been released on the power cut planned for today (Thursday 6 December.)

The SSEN have temporarily isolated power supplies to properties in Springfield Road and Rosebank Terrace in order to safely carry out planned, essential maintenance.

This will last until around 3pm today.

The maintenance includes tree cutting as part of the SSEN's ongoing maintenance programme to keep overhead power lines clear from vegetation and improve the resilience of the network.

A spokesperson from Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) told Skye Times Online: "We would like to thank our customers for their patience as we work to safely carry out essential maintenance work near Springfield Road and Rosebank Terrace today. Tree cutting forms part of our ongoing maintenance programme to keep our overhead power lines clear from trees and other vegetation to help ensure we deliver a safe and reliable supply of electricity to our customers."

A new plan to tackle homelessness in the Highlands is underway.

Members of The Highland Council’s Care, Learning and Housing Committee have approved the first draft ‘Highland Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan’ for 2019 – 2024 which will be submitted to the Scottish Government by the end of this year. The plan provides an analysis of homelessness in the region and the capacity to deliver rapid rehousing within the current patterns of housing need and demand.

Councillors have also agreed to use Scottish Government funding made available to the Council to appoint a temporary post in 2019 to lead on implementing the Plan.

Councillor John Finlayson, Vice Chair of the Care, learning and Housing Committee welcomed the moves forward, he said: “The reasons for homelessness can be both common and complex, but the Council is committed to tackling this with our Housing partners and the Third Sector.

NHS Highland has confirmed plans to appoint a dedicated coordinator to increase the pace of the Ritchie report implementation.

Speaking at a public information session in Portree yesterday (Tuesday 4 December), the board's director of public health, Hugo van Woerden, confirmed that the coordinator would work with the local community to speed up the implementation over the course of the next six months.

Hugo was speaking as a member of a panel at a Q&A session at the Tigh-na-Sgire council chamber on Tuesday 4th December 2018 that included the report author Sir Lewis Ritchie, NHS Highland chair David Alston, and Councillor Ronald MacDonald. The panel was chaired by Councillor John Gordon and more than 50 members of the public attended the evening event.

The session followed a day of meetings between Sir Lewis and representatives of the local communities, health care groups, NHS Highland management and partner organisations on the progress made since his report was published last May.

After the session, Hugo said: “There was agreement that the pace of implementations needs to increase in the next six months. So I am pleased to confirm that NHS Highland is to identify a dedicated NHS coordinator to work alongside the coordinator who has been appointed through funding obtained by four communities in the north of Skye. This will help to improve coordination, communication and progress on the fifteen recommendations in the report.

A Portree road will be closed on Saturday 15 December for the annual Santa Dash.

Somerled Square will be the subject of temporary road closures throughout the event, which starts at 11:45am and ends at 1:30pm.

The long bus bay in Somerled Square will be closed throughout the morning.

Home Farm Road will be closed from the Square to Home Farm Care Home from around 12:20pm to 12:40pm.  

This will be the third year the event has taken place.  

Kate Forbes MSP has invited the Islands Minister Paul Wheelhouse to come to her Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch constituency to meet with ferry groups concerned about the Mallaig to Armadale crossing.

Last week, Ms Forbes met with Mr Wheelhouse at the Scottish Parliament, where they discussed short-term improvements to the service.

This included a pilot scheme for the 2019/20 winter service where the Loch Bhrusda would be deployed to Mallaig for two or three extended periods when it is not being used for refit relief.

Kate Forbes MSP also stressed the need for long-term improvements on the route – which is the fifth most popular crossing on CalMac’s network last year.

She said: “Residents and businesses in Mallaig and Sleat want, I know, a light at the end of the tunnel.

The swimming pool at the Lochalsh Leisure Centre will remain closed until Tuesday 11 December.

Extensive refurbishment is being carried out on the centre.  

Further closures are to be expected in 2019.  During this time, facilities will be improved for those with mobility issues, the heating system will be repaired, the steam room plant replaced and there will be a complete replacement of the centre's roof.

Chairman, Paul Wood, stated in an open letter: "These improvements and remedial works do come with challenges for the Leisure Centre, most notably, the six-figure cost for all of this work, and this is where the centre needs your help.

CalMac's book system will be down for maintenance today (Tuesday 4 December) and tomorrow (Wednesday 5 December.)

The ferry company say their system will be down from 6pm to 6pm.  

This will affect customers who are trying to book in advance online, through the Customer Contact Centre or in the ports.

Hugh Campbell won the Braes Road Race at the weekend.

Held on Saturday 1 December, the hilly race was the second in the Winter Race Series from the Skye and Lochalsh Running & Athletics Club.

Hugh Campbell won the race in 23 minutes and 27 seconds.

Luke Park took second place with a time of 26 minutes and 14 seconds.

Coming in at third place was James Bodley, in 27 minutes and 40 seconds.

Road policing officers in the Highland and Islands are urging motorists not to drink and drive during the festive period.

Local officers are supporting a national campaign, with high visibility static checks and mobile patrols on the roads to prevent and tackle the crimes of drink or drug driving.

This campaign will run throughout the festive period and aims to reduce the number of people committing such offences and detecting those who do - all in order to reduce the number of casualties on the roads.

During the 2017 festive campaign 37 motorists were charged with offences related to drink or drug driving in the Highland and Islands area.

This year's campaign began on the 1st December and three drivers have already been charged with drink drive offences. A 49 year old man and a 56 year old man are due to appear from custody today following offences at the weekend and a 37 year old woman was arrested and due to appear in court at a later date.

Road Policing Inspector Neil Lumsden said: "Drink driving is not acceptable at any time of the year and the festive period is no exception.

Two cars went off the road this morning (Tuesday 4 December) due to the icy conditions.

Local police have given a special warning to drivers on the A87, especially at the Varigall to Sligachan stretch.

They stated that there are: "Very icy road conditions and two cars off the road already."

"Take great care on this stretch this morning and slow down - road is passable with care whilst recovery is being arranged."

The landslip that affected power supplies to Skye and the Western Isles has been categorised as a high-risk area.

On Monday 10 November, the 1km long landslip occurred near the Loch Quoich Dam. It severed the HV transmission lines to Skye and the Western Isles, closed the road and deposited a considerable amount of material into the dam spillway, forcing power station operations to be stopped.

Since the incident The Highland Council has been working with SSE Transmission Limited, SSE Generation Limited, the affected residents and land users. The immediate priority for the Council was to make provision for access and provisions for those affected by the road closure. Arrangements are in place and a temporary All Terrain Vehicle(ATV) access route has been established with the help of SSE Generation and landowners.

Mott MacDonald geotechnical engineers have categorised the area of the slip as very high risk which prevents any attempt to clear debris from the road under the large loose material on the slope above. This material must be stabilised first. SSE Transmission have re-instated their cables and have now handed over control of the road site to the Council.

Runrig and Eilidh Cormack were among two winners at the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards.

Produced by Hands Up for Trad, the awards celebrate Scotland's traditional music scene.  The event saw a number of music fans gather in Perth for the ceremony.  

Months after their final concert, Runrig were recognised for their services to Gaelic over the years.  Formed on Skye in 1973, the band performed for the final time in August before 45,000 fans.  

Gaelic Singer of the Year was awarded to Eilidh Cormack, a talented artist who is also a columnist, an audio archivist at Digital Archive of Scottish Gaelic and a tutor at Fèisgoil who deliver language, music, arts and cultural services to schools and community groups.

The first vodka to be distilled on Skye has been launched.

The venture comes from Portree-based Isle of Skye Distillers, the team behind Misty Isle Gin.

Triple-distilled in small batches at 40% ABV, Misty Isle Vodka is crafted with crystal clear waters drawn from the Storr Lochs, just three miles from the distillery.

Misty Isle Vodka has a light, refreshing taste, and is finished by hand to ensure a crisp, clean and smooth spirit. The bottles’ unique ridge design is inspired by the rugged landscape of the Cuillin Mountains, the landmark that directors Alistair and Thomas Wilson pass every day when delivering to customers on Skye.

A Community First Responder scheme could be set up in Portree, if vital funds are raised.

Efforts are being made to raise £1,500 required to buy the necessary kit.  Once purchase, the kit will also require maintenance and upgrading.  

A Community First Responder is a local volunteer who agrees to undertake training in Basic Life Support. This then enables them to provide life saving treatment to those people within the community who are critically ill, in the first few minutes prior to the arrival of an ambulance.

To read more of the story, visit the JustGiving page here.


CalMac have adopted a new strategy to better educate passengers on emergency procedures.

The ferry operator have premiered a new on-board safety video.

The film lasts for three minutes and features local residents from Arran.  Combining humour with potentially lifesaving information, it is hoped the film will relay CalMac's safety message effectively.

The current safety announcement is a pre-recorded audio message, played after the captain has welcomed the passengers on board.

The video and audio messages have been recorded in English and Gaelic with the video also having subtitles. The new video and audio announcements will be rolled out across the fleet during 2018.

Scotland has been named one of the world's top travel destinations for 2018, with special recognition going to the Isle of Skye.

The list by travel magazine, Wanderlust, named Scotland in fourth place.

The magazine described Scotland as being home to "heathered highlands and glassy lochs to remote windswept isles where the only sound is the breeze gusting through rocky crag."

The list mentions the beauty of Harris and Barra, going on to say: "But for pure drama – and joy – you can simply head to the wild green canvas of Skye’s Trotternish Peninsula, where walks pinch the 30km edge of this wide open expanse offering unrivalled views of the majestic Cuillin range."

The full list can be read here.


Skye's popular music festival, Skye Live, will once again fill Portree with music.

The two day festival will take place on Friday 21 September and Saturday 22 September.

The festival will return to The Lump.  

Full details can be found here.


2018's First Footing can begin with a wild swim, say Skye Sailing Club.

The Club will host an open-to-all wild swimming session on New Year's Day.  

The wild swimming will begin at 10am on Monday 1 January.  Drams and hot drinks will be available for anyone taking to the waters.  

The Club say: "Swimmers must be able to swim at least 50 metres unassisted – wetsuits are recommended. Any persons under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian (they need not swim alongside but be on hand to confirm permission to swim, offer support and help warm up their ward at the end!). We will have a warmed viewing area available!"

The sessions will start from the Scorrybreac Boathouse in Portree.

Forecasts are currently inconclusive so the conditions may ultimately prove to be unsuitable for the sessions. You must check the Club Facebook page one hour before the session is due to begin to find out if there has been any postponement or cancellation.




An Crùbh Post Office will be closed on Tuesday 9 January.

The closure will allow an upgrade of the branch technology and a change to the till systems.

The aim is to reopen the Post Office again after lunch time.

Donnie Nicolson has praised the fast actions of the staff at Portree, after an anaphylactic reaction left his partner, Rosie, straining to breathe.

Rosie's reaction took place shortly after eating prawns.  Very quickly, her lips and eyes started to swell and she was soon vomiting, struggling to breathe and struggling to walk. 

The incident took place on Friday 22 December - the same day as NHS Highland announced it would be temporarily suspending the Minor Injuries/Urgent Care Centre at Portree Hospital.

Mr Nicolson stated: "The medical team on duty at Portree Hospital quickly took her into their care and went to work. As you would expect, it was true professionalism at its best. Within a short time the drugs administered had taken effect and her symptoms were brought under control. She was kept in a further few hours for observation before being let home later that night. She had suffered an anaphylactic reaction to prawns - something we eat all the time.

"Once getting home, we had time to reflect on the evenings events, and to ask, yes - but what if?"

Mr Nicolson believes Rosie's story could have ended very differently, had the incident happened during the suspension of services.  

“Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening severe allergic reaction. It is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment and as Rosie had never experienced anything like this previously she had no Epipen.

“Had we gone to Portree Hospital and found there was not the appropriate staff or equipment we would have had to go to Broadford. The journey would have required an ambulance under blue lights, but would there have been an ambulance available?

“Rosie needed adrenaline – the delaying of this can result in deterioration and death. The treatment that Rosie received within 20 minutes of experiencing symptoms saved her life. If this had happened just a week later when we believe the same level of care will not be available in Portree – the outcome may have been very different.

"Rosie was lucky, she got the required treatment quickly and has made a full recovery. Our fear is that others will not be so lucky. Once the basic life saving capability has been removed from Portree hospital, lives will be lost. And once something is gone, you’ll not get it back."

The Minor Injuries Unit/Urgent Care Centre at Portree Hospital on Skye is to be temporarily suspended for one day and the Out of Hours service for the following three days next week because of continuing staffing problems.

NHS Highland stated: "Normally the MIU/Urgent Care Centre operates from 8am to 11pm every day. Unfortunately, because of the lack of available advanced nurse practitioner cover, the current position is that the unit will be closed from 8am to 6pm on Tuesday 2nd January 2017. The unit's Out of Hours service will then be covered by doctors and nurses from the Rural Practitioner Team based at the Dr MacKinnon Memorial Hospital in Broadford.

"On Wednesday 3rd, Thursday 4th and Friday 5th January, the MIU will be open from 8am to 6pm. After 6pm the Out of Hours service will again be covered by the team based at Broadford.

"There are no changes for medical emergencies, where members of the public should dial 999. During the out of hours period (6pm to 8am; Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays) the Out of Hours service can be contacted by calling NHS 24 on 111.

"The decision, which has been taken on the grounds of safety for patients, is similar to arrangements that worked well over the festive period last week. However, NHS Highland is still actively seeking to provide cover at Portree and, if successful, will communicate any changes as soon as possible as possible via our website, Facebook, Twitter as well as via local media."

Road policing officers in the Highland and Islands are reminding road users of the dangers and consequences of driving after drinking or taking drugs ahead of the New Year's celebrations.

Local officers have been supporting a national campaign, with high visibility patrols across the region throughout the festive period.

The campaign aims to reduce the number of people drinking and driving, while detecting those who do.

Mobile and static patrols are continuing across the Highlands and Islands. Officers will continue to be on the roads this weekend to watch for anyone suspected of being over the limit.

Sergeant Gregor Hay of the Road Policing Unit, based in Dingwall, said: "Despite the varied and well-publicised consequences of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, we still catch drivers who ignore the risks and get behind the wheel.

"This weekend many people will be attending parties and events to celebrate Hogmanay and New Year's Day.

"Our advice would be to make travel plans in advance to so that the temptation to drive under the influence is removed. If you are planning to drive then it is best not to consume any alcohol at all - there is no safe limit.

"I would also urge people to think about any journeys they have to make the following day, taking into account the period of time alcohol remains in a person's system the morning after.

Welfare policies should be shaped by the hidden factors behind rural poverty, a leading Highlands MSP has said.

Kate Forbes MSP believes that higher prices for food, clothes, fuel and travel have contributed to the "stark reality of Highland poverty".

Welfare policies, which continue to be largely a reserved matter, have faced extensive criticism over the last few years.

Ms Forbes said she felt moved to write on the subject after meeting a homeless man sleeping rough in Dingwall train station on a snowy winter's night as she arrived home from the Scottish Parliament.

Kate Forbes MSP explained: "The essentials required for a minimum standard of living is the same for rural and urban residents – food, clothes and fuel. But the costs are much, much higher.

"An HIE study in 2013 estimated that it cost households in remote, rural Scotland about 10 to 40 per cent more to achieve the basic standard of living. It was above 40 per cent for island residents.

"That is because of the higher prices for food, clothes and groceries, the increased charges of fuel and the travel costs that are slapped on to every trip.

"Whatever the reason, we are ignoring the stark reality of Highland poverty."

The life of Alasdair Macleod, whose body was recovered from the Staffin shoreline, is to be celebrated.

Mr Macleod, a fisherman in Applecross, was reported missing on November 20 after his boat, Varuna, was found on the rocks north of Applecross Bay.

A celebration of his life is to be held in 2018 by his family.

In an update on Mr Macleod's blog, Applecross Life, the family wrote: "Ali’s body was identified much more quickly than we’d expected; we had been warned that it would take several weeks to do this using DNA. However, it was suggested that dental records might be used instead. By Monday evening the fiscal’s office had phoned to say that ID and post mortem were complete and his death certificate could be issued."

"We believe he had finished with the creels for the day and was on his way back to the mooring when he went overboard. All the prawns had been tubed and were in the vivier tank.  We were told that the Varuna was travelling at around five knots when she grounded on Saint Island, which is much faster than she would have been going if Ali had been shooting creels.

"The Marine Accident Investigation Board is investigating what happened and will issue a report.

Community groups working to enhance their homes are invited to register for the 2018 Beautiful Scotland campaign.

The 2018 theme is "Year of Young People."  Every group will be sent a packet of sunflower seeds and a document with ideas to help get started.

Groups would be expected to work with a variety of community groups, schools, and local organisations and businesses across the entire village, town or city. 

Judging will take place at the beginning of August for the prestigious trophies within 13 different categories. These categories are based on electoral roll population size, ranging from Wee Villages to Cities, and there are additional prizes for outstanding effort in specific areas such as biodiversity, sustainability and tourism. A selection of winners are nominated to represent Scotland in the following years’ RHS Britain in Bloom finals.

To find out more information, visit the Keep Scotland Beautiful website.


Seafish, the Seafood industry body, is urging commercial fishermen to apply for a funded place on a locally-run training course run by the Western Isles Sea Fisheries Training Association to help improve safety at sea.

The training is available to commercial Skye fishermen to refresh and advance safety knowledge and skills.

Funding for free training is available until 31 March 2018, and can be used to attend a wide range of locally held safety courses; from basic training and safety refreshers, to more advanced courses such as navigation, engineering and stability awareness and a Skipper qualification.

The call from Seafish comes as the industry reflects on a ten-year period that saw over 3,300 accidents involving UK fishing vessels, with over 500 fishermen suffering serious injury and almost 100 losing their lives.

Research conducted by Seafish found that 55% of fishermen disagreed that accidents at sea are mostly down to events beyond their control. With this in mind, the organisation is urging all fishermen to take steps towards being safer at sea by applying for a funded place on a training course.

Local police will be receiving a visit from Justice Secretary, Michael Matheson, along with Ian Blackford MP today (Thursday 28 December.)

The visit will involve a discussion of local policing issues across Skye and Lochalsh - but will also enable local police to receive an update on what could become a new crime.

The Domestic Abuse Bill will reach the final stage of the parliamentary process early in 2018.  It will criminalise psychological abuse and coercive control and create a new offence if passed by Parliament.  The Bill will cover not just physical abuse but also other forms of psychological abuse and coercive and controlling behaviour that cannot easily be prosecuted using the existing criminal law.

Local police recently received praise for a series of Tweets to appeal directly to a young woman on the island at risk of domestic abuse from her partner.  

Around 14,000 Police Scotland officers and staff are to receive enhanced training to assess instances of psychological abuse and coercive control in domestic abuse settings.  

Justice Secretary, Michael Matheson, introduced the Bill to Parliament in March this year and has now committed to provide additional funding specifically to train frontline officers and staff.  Subject to completion of the Police Scotland tendering process, it is likely that Scottish Government funding of the training will be in the range of several hundred thousand pounds.

Further ice warnings affecting Skye, the Western Isles and Highlands have been issued by the Met Office: Yellow warning: Ice between Thursday 28th 15:00 and Friday 29th December 12:00

Icy patches are expected to develop on Thursday night and Friday morning on some untreated roads and pavementss, as well as where showers continue to fall washing off treatment. Some injuries from slips and falls on icy surfaces are possible.

Showers of rain, sleet and snow are expected on Thursday night before largely dying out on Friday morning. The extent of ice will vary across the area with inland areas most prone whilst coastal areas exposed to the northerly winds are less likely to be affected. 1 or 2 cm of snow may accumulate above about 100 m.

Local police are investigating the theft of a silver fuel bowser and trailer.

The theft is believed to have taken place on the A87 at Glenshiel on the night of Tuesday 26 December.

Local police say the trailer is marked with "Anderson Engineering."

Anyone with information is asked to call 101.


The disabled person’s parking badge pilot, which was launched in April 2016, has been made permanent by the Scottish Government.

The eligibility criteria were revised and extended under a pilot to allow carers and relatives of people who pose a risk to themselves or others in traffic to apply for a disabled person’s parking badge, provided they meet the criteria.

The Transport Scotland Blue Badge Working Group, established in 2015, has been evaluating the pilot and put forward recommendations that the extension should be made permanent, which has now been agreed.

Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said: “I am delighted that the Scottish Government can permanently extend the criteria around the Blue Badge. It’s so important that people with disabilities, including cognitive impairments, can live a life of equal opportunities similar to other people.

A technical issue on the Uig to Tarbert route will cause delays on the Uig to Lochmaddy route, say CalMac.

The sailing was originally scheduled for 6pm tonight (Wednesday 27 December.) 

Icy road conditions have resulted in an accident at Skeabost today (Wednesday 27 December.)

The MET office have issued an ice warning covering the Highlands and Islands until tonight and tomorrow, saying: "Showers of rain, sleet and snow are expected on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, with snow most likely inland away from immediate coastal areas and over hills.

"The extent of ice will vary across the area with inland areas most prone whilst coastal areas exposed to the northerly winds are less likely to be affected. 1 or 2 cm of snow may accumulate above about 100 m, with perhaps 5 cm or more locally over the higher ground of North Highland. Temporary deposits may also occur at lower levels, mainly late in the night."

A lobster that appeared to be already cooked was recently caught in Waternish.

The lobster was already orange - bar a tell-tale strip of blue on its back.  

Iain Matheson told The Skye Times that he caught the lobster in Loch Bay, Waternish.  He said: "I took it ashore to show the kids, as they are extremely rare. 

"Saying that, a different one was caught in Loch Dunvegan last year and sent to an aquarium down south."

Most other European lobsters are dark blue and only turn orange when cooked.  However, a rare pigment mutation gave Mr Matheson’s specimen its colouring. 

Mr Matheson said: "After the pics were taken, I took it back to where I caught it and released it.

"Just after that an aquarium got in touch and asked if they could have it.  Oops!"

A lady with an ankle injury was assisted at Sligachan.

The injury resulted in Skye Mountain Rescue being called to help the local ambulance with a short stretcher carry.

In the same week, Broadford-based Cafe Sia hosted an evening which raised almost £400 for the mountain rescue team.


NHS Highland have confirmed that it is to continue being the only health board in Scotland to charge pregnant mums £5 for a baby scan photo.

In the summer NHS Highland promised to review the controversial practice following an investigation by Kate Forbes, but Freedom of Information requests have now revealed the health board is continuing to charge expectant mums £5 for a photo, or £10 for three at antenatal scan appointments.

The requests also showed not a single piece of paper formed part of the promised review, and that it had been conducted by a sonographer who made telephone calls to four other hospitals – one of whom did not respond.

All three hospitals that answered the calls were operating within health boards that operate a donations-only policy.

Kate Forbes MSP has again called on NHS Highland to rethink its charging policy.  The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch explained: "I believe very strongly that those who live in the Highlands should not be penalised by higher costs for living and working.

"We already face longer journeys, higher fuel costs and surcharges on various services. That is why I raised my concerns about the additional costs faced by expectant mothers for copies of their antenatal scans in the Highlands over the summer.

"It was a constituent that first brought this issue to my attention as the mother lived in the central belt and was given complimentary copies of the antenatal scans. She then moved to the Highlands and was surprised to be charged for the antenatal scans.

"There are very few mums-to-be who don't want a copy of the antenatal scan and so most mums are charged.

"The constituent in question approached me to ask why there was this discrepancy, when Highland mums already faced additional costs just for living and travelling in the Highlands."

Portree Coastguard were out shortly before Christmas after a vessel was grounded in Uig Bay.

The salvage vessel, WOODSTOCK (2BUY7), dragged its mooring and ran aground.

Portree Coastguard provided shoreside safety cover.

The out-of-hours service at Portree Hospital will be suspended over the festive season.

NHS Highland announced that the service at the Minor Injuries Unit/Urgent Care Centre will be suspended for "some time" starting on the week beginning Monday 25 December.  NHS Highland cite "escalating staffing problems" as the reason for the suspension, stating: "The decision has had to be made following safety concerns raised by senior clinicians over the number of available qualified staff, especially advanced nursing practitioners (ANPs), at Portree.

"Normally the MIU/Urgent Care Centre operates from 8am to 11pm every day. Unfortunately, because there is no ANP staffing cover, the current position is that it will be closed all day on Tuesday 26th December 2017. In addition, on Wednesday 27th December 2017 it will close at 6pm and on Sunday 31st December it will close at 8pm. During these times cover will be provided by the Rural Practitioner Team based at the Dr MacKinnon Memorial Hospital in Broadford.

"Senior clinicians who cover the service were unanimous that unless a clinician is based in Portree who is able to 'See, Treat and Discharge', it is safer to provide the service from a single site at Dr Mackinnon Memorial Hospital. While we appreciate this will not be popular, it was felt that there is a greater risk of clinical error if Portree patients are managed remotely without a senior practitioner onsite.

Kyleakin bus stop regularly provides shelter - but last night (Thursday 21 December) it was a temporary homeless shelter (almost.)

Sarah-Jane Reid took to the shelter, along with Gordon MacDonald and Laura Mackenzie, to raise awareness of homelessness and raise money for the charity, Social Bite.

Sarah-Jane told The Skye Times: "Doing this is a taster of what people are going through every night.  After living in the cities and seeing what people go through, you really feel sorry for the homeless."

Sarah-Jane's JustGiving page can be found here.

Skye-based organisation, ATLAS Arts, have been shortlisted for a rural award.

The organisation were selected for a 2018 Scottish Rural Award in the Conservation and the Environment category because of their commitment to exploring environmental issues.  

The organisation say that a prime example of their environmental ethos can be seen in their long-term project; CLIMAVORE: On Tidal Zones.  The project, which started in 2016, was initiated to enhance and protect Skye's ocean and land, as well as engaging with national conversations regarding sustainability, promoting biodiversity and suggesting future rural economies.

ATLAS director, Emma Nicolson, stated: “We are delighted to be recognised in this way. It shows our commitment to exploring rural issues and concerns through our work with artists. Cooking Sections were great collaborators and enabled us to work with many local partners to deliver this project.”

Above image: Alon and Daniel of Cooking Section standing on top of the oyster table in Bayfield.  Photograph by Ruth Clark.


Kate Forbes MSP has hit out at "scandalous" delivery charges to the Highlands, after new figures revealed her constituents are thought to be paying almost £4m extra a year compared to the rest of the UK.

According to new research from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe), those living in the Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch constituency – which also includes Dingwall, the Black Isle and the Great Glen – pay an estimated £3.8m more – and the figure for the entire Highlands and Islands is a whopping £33.4m.

Kate Forbes MSP said enough is enough, and urged the UK Government to act and end rip-off charges for Highlanders.

She said: "The scandal of retailers charging almost £4 million to customers in Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch has never looked like such a rip-off.

"That means that customers who have purchased goods online this Christmas have paid over the odds and lined the pockets of retailers and delivery firms who think nothing of over-charging Highland consumers.

"It is, and always has been, an absolute disgrace and it is long overdue for the UK Government to act.

"If the Scottish Government had the powers to do something about surcharges, they would have long ago and it is really only public pressure that has pushed the UK Government into lifting a finger about this.

"Almost £4 million across Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch could have been spent in the local economy and made an enormous difference."

A road traffic accident has badly delayed traffic in Inverness.

The accident took place on the Longman Road near to the Police Station.  Police have advised that, given the heavier than usual festive traffic, there will be significant delays throughout the city.

Police will endeavour to deal with the incident as quickly as possible, but state that a degree of patience on the behalf of the driving public will be required.

Skye & Lochalsh Council for Voluntary Organisations (SLCVO) will be heading for Kyle early in 2018.

The organisation offers help to non-profit groups with volunteer recruitment and development, strategy and project planning, networking, marketing, funding and training programmes.

SLCVO will be in Kyle from 10 January to 28 March and will be open every Wednesday at the Lighthouse Centre from 10am to 2pm.  


Remaining Christmas displays will not be put up, Broadford and Strath Community Company say.

The decision comes after an act of vandalism which destroyed the lights on the Broadford footbridge.  

The community organisation hope that they will be able to set up a new strategy for 2018.  Meanwhile, anyone with any information is asked to contact the police on 101.

Local police are seeking information on an abandoned car near Achachork, Portree.

The silver Volkswagen Polo was found, crashed and abandoned, on Tuesday 19 December.

Police have asked anyone who saw the crash or knows who was driving to call anonymously on 101.

The constituency MSP for Raasay and Skye has described the lack of progress from NHS Highland to find agreed out-of-hours healthcare cover for the Isle of Raasay as "utterly exasperating".

After a series of constructive meetings with the island community in the first half of the year, which included an assurance from David Alston, chair of the NHS Highland board, to find a solution quickly, there is still no out-of-hours, urgent cover.

Kate Forbes MSP has now voiced her frustration about the sorry saga, and has also raised the situation with the Scottish Government.

The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch said: "As we approach the end of 2017, I'm immensely frustrated that Raasay still does not have cover out-of-hours.

"This time last year, NHS Highland agreed to my request for a series of meetings with Raasay community members to design a service for Raasay.

"We then had four successful meetings in the first half of the year, at which NHS Highland agreed that Raasay needed a suitably qualified professional to cover out-of-hours." 

Individuals and schools from the Isle of Skye and Raasay have received recognition of the important contribution they make to their communities during the Eilean a’ Cheò Civic Awards held in Portree yesterday (Monday 18 December).

This is the seventh year of the Awards which are organised by the Ward 10 Eilean a' Cheò Councillors to recognise people from all age groups and walks of life who have contributed to the success and wellbeing of their local communities.

The Arts/Music Award was presented to Dinah Rankin from Kilmaluag who was nominated by Kilmuir Community Council.

They say: “Dinah is totally committed to the Trotternish area, and works tirelessly to support and encourage the children of the area, specifically over the past year when she has run an after-school club to prepare children for the Local and National Mods.

“Clann Throndairnis enjoyed huge success in Fort William at the National Mod with the children winning a huge haul of medals for group and individual performances – a great achievement for a small community. This is all thanks to Dinah, who coached and encouraged the children and coordinated a massive voluntary endeavour from a number of people within the community.”

A fisherman was forced to abandon his boat after hitting the rocks yesterday (Monday 18 December.)

The creel boat got into difficulties off Gairloch harbour in Wester Ross.  The fisherman managed to send a distress call before scrambling ashore.

Stornoway Coastguard helicopter and Portree lifeboat arrived at the scene.  Efforts were made to recover the creel boat, Adelphi, but the vessel was holed and sank.




Kate Forbes MSP has made a fact-finding visit to the Kyle of Lochalsh Royal Bank of Scotland branch, which has been earmarked for closure.

During the visit, the MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch met with the regional manager Paul Dykes as well as local staff, and has expressed firm opposition on behalf of her constituents.

Last week Ms Forbes led a Scottish Parliament debate on the closure of banks in rural areas.

Following RBS' recent announcement, branches in Aviemore, Beauly, Kyle and Mallaig are expected to close.

The Kyle branch has almost 2,500 customers, and last year saw 25,000 transactions. If the closure goes ahead, the nearest branch is over 30 miles away in Portree.

Kate Forbes MSP said: "I visited the Kyle branch because I wanted to meet the staff and some of the customers who face the greatest challenge with the announcement by Royal Bank of Scotland's decision to close the branch.

"Of course, it must be a very unsettling time for everybody connected with the branch.

Police in Skye & Lochalsh are appealing for information following the theft of tools and other equipment in the Auchtertyre area near Kyle of Lochalsh.

The items were removed from an agricultural shed close to the A890 Auchtertyre to Achnasheen road sometime between 10.20am on Saturday, December 16 and 8am on Monday, December 18.

Entry was forced to the shed and the items stolen included a variety of power and hand tools valued in mid-four figures, as well as a quantity of scrap metal.

Constable Ian Carr of Kyle Police Station said: "A vehicle would have been needed to remove this amount of items, while the thieves also needed to transport all of the equipment from the shed to the roadside which would have taken some time to complete.

"I am therefore asking anybody who saw anything at all suspicious in the area, whether that is a person or a vehicle, to get in touch with us.

"I would also ask anybody who is offered tools or scrap metal for sale to let us know as soon as you can.

"Our enquiries are ongoing and anyone with information should contact us by calling 101, quoting reference NP11426/17, or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."

On a cold December night, a young woman will spend the night on streets of Kyleakin armed with only a sleeping bag and a cardboard box.

Sarah-Jane Reid will be raising money for the charity, Social Bite.  As well as being the largest distributor of free food to the homeless, the charity employs over 100 people who have struggled with homelessness.  

Sarah-Jane stated: "I will be returning to the bus stop in Kyleakin on 21 December 2017 at 6pm to 'sleep rough' with only a cardboard box and sleeping bag - no phone, no food - just the way thousands do on our streets in Scotland every night!"

Donations can be made at The Isle of Skye Estate Agency offices in either Kyle or Portree, via Sarah-Jane's JustGiving page or at the bus stop on the night.

The Christmas lights on Broadford footbridge have been vandalised.  

Broadford and Strath Community Company stated that volunteers will work to repair the damage, but have asked anyone with any information to contact the police.  

The community organisation said they received a message this morning (Monday 18 December) from a family to report that the bridge decorations have suffered further damage.  

Photographs from the Broadford and Strath Community Company Facebook page.

The Skye Book Festival has gained a reputation as a "warm and welcoming book festival."

Held amid Skye's spectacular scenery, the festival marries landscape with literature and the result is summed up by bilingual poet and novelist Angus Peter Campbell who proclaimed: “Skye and books – what more could you ask for?”

The festival has enjoyed a successful sixth year, with crime writer, Ian Rankin, entertaining the audience with tales of Rebus.

Managing Director of host organisation The Aros Centre, Donald MacDonald, says that the growing range of sponsors this year is proof that well-organised and supported events can bring valuable endorsements. “Creative Scotland has been very supportive from the beginning and we have been very encouraged by the support of local backers for the Festival,” he said.

Mr MacDonald added that he felt that the balance of poetry and press in both Gaelic and English was one of the real strengths of the Festival.

Donald MacDonald said that the support of Bòrd na Gàidhlig and Skye economy leaders such as Dunvegan Castle and Talisker, who gave financial support, were critical in enabling the Festival to attract top authors.

Adding to the range of new books available each year, Skye also attracts the patronage of the PBFA Antiquarian Book Fair, whose members’ stalls of rare and valuable books for sale, have been a highlight since the first Skye Book Festival in 2011.

Santas of all ages brought blazing colour to the streets of Portree on Saturday 16 December.

275 Santas entered the Skye Santa Dash, which involved going round a two mile long course on a bright Saturday.  

The event will raise money for Crossroads Care.  A total of all funds raised is yet to be announced.

Photographs by Alex M Photography - Facebook and Twitter. 


A body discovered on the Staffin shoreline is that of missing fisherman, Alasdair Macleod.

Police have confirmed the body, which had been recovered on Saturday 9 December, is that of the 57-year-old man from Applecross.

Mr Macleod was reported missing on Monday 20 November.

Police say there are no suspicious circumstances and a report has been submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.

A lone kayaker was rescued after drifting between the Crowlin and Longay islands.

Kyle RNLI were paged at 9:56am on Saturday 16 December to assist the kayaker, who had broken his paddle.  The team arrived on the scene at 10:16am and located the casualty ten minutes later.  They then transferred him and his kayak back to Broadford.  

Speaking of the incident, a Kyle RNLI spokesperson said: "The kayaker had left Broadford this morning and was making his way to the Uags area of the Applecross peninsula, when his paddle snapped in half.

"He sensibly turned around and began trying to make his way back towards the shelter of Longay island, where we located him uninjured but very cold."


Rural communities across the Highlands feel "powerless" in the face of recent branch closures announced by the Royal Bank of Scotland, according to Kate Forbes MSP.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament chamber, the MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch called for a reversal of the decision and also greater consultation with people living in rural areas so that customers' needs helped shape the future banking provision in the region.

Ms Forbes has visited three of the four branches earmarked for closure in her own constituency, and said she was particularly concerned how the elderly and the vulnerable – as well as those without adequate broadband – will continue to be able to access their banking services.  

If the closures go ahead, some customers will have to drive well over an hour to find their nearest branch.

Kate Forbes MSP said: "So many people right across Scotland feel powerless as national banks close branches at a faster rate than ever before, withdrawing from communities, leaving many customers behind.

Geologists have found evidence that a meteorite struck the Isle of Skye 60 million years ago.

Dr Simon Drake, from Birkbeck, University of London, made the finds on Skye, with his colleague, Dr Andy Beard.  The geologists originally thought they were analysing rocks from a volcanic explosion.  However, the minerals inside the rocks did not match any records on Earth.

The minerals did, in fact, match samples of the comet Wild-2, collected by NASA during a mission to retrieve space dust.

The geologists worked at two sites on the island.  Dr Drake told The Skye Times of his experiences at An Carnach.  

Dr Drake said: "We have found evidence of the impact at two sites and at another potential two sites on the Isle of Skye, at the moment."

He added: "One of the things that is really interesting here is that the volcanological evolution of the Isle of Skye has always been considered to have been started with what's called a volcanic plume, an enormously large bulk of magma which has come up under what then was the crust that Skye was on.

"We are now suggesting that this may well have been assisted by a meteorite impact."

Above: A thin section view of what is known as meteoritic ejecta deposit found on Skye - photograph by Simon Drake.

The Isle of Skye has been selected as one of Hyundai's ten volcanic ranges in a new driving route.

The route, called The KONA 10, will stretch across the UK and Ireland.  

The name pays homage to Hyundai's new compact SUV, the KONA, as well as the volcanic heritage of the Kona region in Hawaii, which partly helped inspire the car.

The KONA 10 route starts at Mount Snowdon in Wales before heading to the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland.  The route ends in the Isle of Skye.

The ten volcanic ranges have been curated by TV historian, Dr Michael Scott, and aim to shed light on the little-known volcanic history of the UK and Ireland - as well as the extraordinary human activity inspired by the landscapes.  Dr Scott comments: "There is the most incredible yet surprising volcanic history in the UK and at Ardnamurchan. The KONA 10 is going to shine a light on our volcanic heritage – right from Snowdon through to the Isle of Skye. This never before attempted route across the length and breadth of the UK and Ireland will take people on a journey through a rich and incredible tapestry of human history and achievement - from the ancient past, to the modern day."

The closure of rural banks will be raised for the second consecutive week in the Scottish Parliament chamber by Kate Forbes MSP.

The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch has secured a member’s debate on the closures through a motion that has been overwhelming backed by over 40 cross-party MSPs.

In her constituency, branches in Aviemore, Beauly, Kyle and Mallaig have been earmarked by the Royal Bank of Scotland for closure, but Ms Forbes is keen to increase pressure on RBS.

Last week she raised the matter in a Topical Question to Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse.

Kate Forbes MSP said: “I understand that many people are choosing to bank online, but it still remains the case that these branch closures will hit the Highlands hard.

“In particular, cash-based businesses, vulnerable customers and remote customers will all be facing the challenge of changing their practices.

“I have visited three of the four branches which RBS intends to close in my constituency. The staff are incredible, with a single focus on customers’ interests.”

The energy generated by Skipinnish could surely power an entire planet.

The band filled Portree's Aros Centre with energetic song and music tonight (Wednesday 13 December.)

The crowd in the packed room sang along as the entire theatre rocked.

A temporary road closure of the B970 has been cancelled.

Highland Council had previously outlined a decision to close the B970 Kingussie – Inverdruie – Aviemore – Coylumbridge – Nethybridge – Speybridge Road from its junction with the U2079 Dalfaber Road.  The closure had been requested by the Aviemore Holiday Park for crane access to lift static houses and for the prevention of all vehicular traffic to provide a safe working area for works being carried out by Aviemore Holiday Park.  The temporary closure was due to take place from 9am until 5pm on Friday 15 December 2017. 

The decision to cancel the road closure has been taken with Police Scotland in the interests of public safety due to prevailing conditions, the medium term weather forecast, anticipated traffic volumes, and the potential for severe disruption.


CalMac has reported a "small but worrying increase" in incidents of verbal or physical abuse in the past six months.

The ferry operator is launching a new campaign to reinforce its zero tolerance policy of unacceptable behaviour.

A new CalMac website outlining real life incidents and the consequences of them has now gone live.  In one of the incidents, a verbally abusive man jumped up onto the counter to reach the staff on the other side.  The police were called and the man arrested. 

CalMac runs a fleet of 32 vessels across a network of 27 islands and remote mainland destinations. Last year it carried more than five million passengers and 1.2 million vehicles.

CalMac's director of safety, environment and security, Louis de Wolff said: "Safety of our staff is a priority for us and recently we have seen a small upsurge of abusive passengers behaving in an intolerable way towards staff, this is unacceptable. With people out and about socialising more over the festive period we felt this was a good time to reinforce the standards of behaviour we expect passengers to have towards our staff.

A community Pop-Up Bar will open for the festive period in Armadale.

Called The Clan Gathering, the bar will operate from the Stables building and be under the management of several Clan Donald Lands Trust staff, as well as some familiar faces from the community.

The pub will open on Friday 15 December at 5pm.  Full opening hours are yet to be confirmed.  

For more information, visit The Clan Gathering Facebook page or call 01471 844305 during office hours.

A community Pop-Up Bar will open for the festive period in Armadale.

Called The Clan Gathering, the bar will operate from the Stables building and be under the management of several Clan Donald Lands Trust staff, as well as some familiar faces from the community.

The pub will open on Friday 15 December at 5pm.  Full opening hours are yet to be confirmed.  

For more information, visit The Clan Gathering Facebook page or call 01471 844305 during office hours.

Further icy conditions today (Tuesday 12 December) have resulted in vehicles stuck on Struan Hill Road.

Highland Council have been contacted to assist.

Local police have advised everyone to avoid the area.

A call has been issued for young people to help play a part in shaping the future of BBC Scotland.

BBC Scotland say they are looking for anyone "buzzing with ideas about how BBC Scotland can mean more to young people and eager to change how young people are seen by society and in the media."

They are searching for anyone aged between 14-25 living in Scotland.  


Those accepted will, over a period of 18 months, work with other young people, the Young Scot charity, and BBC staff to challenge the perception of young people within the organisation and across wider society.

This will involve group work as well as some work to complete in your own time, visits to our centres across Scotland and also possible residential weekends. Over the 18 months you will be expected to attend between six and eight core meetings, plus various other events.

BBC Scotland state that applicants don’t need any formal qualifications - just a curiosity for important issues for young people, Scotland and the media.  You should be able to work within a group, and have the flexibility, commitment and willingness to travel across Scotland throughout 2018-2019.

For more information, visit the BBC Scotland website here.

The family of missing Applecross fisherman, Alasdair Macleod, say they are certain a body found in Staffin is that of Alasdair's.

Police Scotland confirmed on Sunday 10 December that a man's body was discovered on the shore at Staffin Bay on Skye.

In a statement published on Mr Macleod's blog, the family have said: "This wasn’t where it was expected to find him and there had been no official search in that area.

"Although official ID will have to be carried out by DNA tests, there is no doubt in our minds that this is Ali, from descriptions of clothing remaining on his body.

"We don’t yet know how long the ID and post mortem process will take."

They also announced plans to celebrate Mr Macleod's life in Applecross.  

Tributes have been paid to Mr Macleod, including a Coigach community wind turbine which has been named after Mr Macleod's boat.


Struan Hill Road is currently blocked today (Monday 11 December).

A minor RTC took place on the hill road.

Local police are urging travellers to take care when travelling, as the Hill Road is badly affected by ice.

Roads around Kyle of Lochalsh and roads and pavements in Portree are also slippery.  


A nurse who covers Skye and Lochalsh has been awarded the title of Queen's Nurse.

Michelle Duffy from the Black Isle, along with Kitty Millar from Campbeltown, were selected earlier this year to take part in a nine-month development programme run by the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland (QNIS).

The two NHS Highland community nurses are among a group of twenty from Scotland awarded the title of Queen’s Nurse, marking the first time the honour has been made for almost 50 years.

They were both presented with a Queen's Nurse certificate and badge by Great British Bake Off judge Prue Leith during the QNIS awards ceremony in Edinburgh on Friday 1 December 2017.

Each of the community nurses were nominated by their managers for providing high quality, compassionate care.

Michelle, an advanced practice respiratory nurse with NHS Highland based in Inverness, covers Caithness, Sutherland, Skye, Lochalsh and Lochaber, offering specialist nursing care and advice.

Most of the people on Michelle’s caseload are elderly and have conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary fibrosis, emphysema and bronchiectasis, which make it difficult to breathe.

Working closely with national charities, as well as community-based support groups, Michelle and her colleagues raise awareness of respiratory disease, and the importance of early diagnosis. They take their spirometer, for measuring lung capacity, into supermarkets and shopping centres to offer on-the-spot tests, and use every opportunity to raise awareness.

Michelle said: “I am delighted to have been awarded the title of Queen’s Nurse. I hope to use it to spread the word about the service we are delivering here in the Highlands.

Planning permission is being sought for two fish farms off Staffin's coast.

The proposed fish farms would be located at Culnacnoc and Invertote.

Permission is sought by Organic Sea Harvest (OSH) from Highland Council and Marine Scotland.

Staffin Community Trust (SCT) have stated that fourteen full time jobs would be created through both sites.  The Trust also state that the aqua developments would "be a considerable boost to Staffin in terms of creating all-year round permanent employment."  

OSH intends to produce organically reared salmon from these new farms, process and package the stock in Staffin and then sell it to major retailers as organic Skye salmon.   OSH has agreed to make annual payments to the SCT, of 5 pence on each fish landed at the Staffin Slipway, which would see an average of £140,000 being made available to this community annually.

SCT state that they would like to utilise this pledge to try and secure long-awaited improvement to the Slipway for local users, private businesses and visitors.

Road policing officers in the Highland and Islands are reminding road users in the area of the dangers and consequences of festive drink and drug driving.

Local officers are supporting a national campaign, with high visibility patrols on Scotland's roads to prevent and tackle drink driving.

This campaign will run throughout the festive period and aims to reduce the number of people committing such offences and detecting those who do - all in order to reduce the number of casualties on the roads.

Seven people have been charged with alleged drink driving offences in the last week across the Highlands and Islands.

Divisional Road Policing Inspector Gus Stewart said: "During this period I would urge people to plan their travel ahead of their festivities beginning so that the need or temptation to drive whilst under the influence is removed.

Power will go off in the Uig area this winter.

Essential work on lines means there will be a planned power interruption as SSE carries out the work.

The interruption will take place on Wednesday 20 December between the hours of 9am and 3pm.

Uig Village Hall and Uig Filling Station will be open for anyone needed warm drinks.

Skye has faced the lowest temperatures so far this year.

Portree temperatures reached lows of -5.3C.

Unusually, the Skye Bridge had a covering of snow.

Image from Skye Weather Facebook page.

Police Scotland can confirm that the body of a man was discovered on the shore at Staffin Bay on the Isle of Skye yesterday (Saturday 9 December 2017).

Formal identification has yet to take place however the family of missing fisherman Alasdair Macleod, who was reported missing on Monday, November 20, have been informed.

Concern was raised for Mr Macleod after his boat "Varuna" was seen on rocks north of Applecross Bay.

Enquiries remain ongoing however there are not thought to be any suspicious circumstances and a report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal in due course.


Ian Blackford has become the latest MP to support the movement for fossil fuel divestment.

Ian Blackford, MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber and the Leader of the SNP at Westminster, has joined an increasing number of cross-party politicians to sign a pledge, calling for their parliamentary pension fund to move its £612 million of assets away from fossil fuels.

The move comes as constituency members across the country are urging their local MPs to show they care about climate change by calling on their pension fund to align its investments with the UK's climate commitment.

Yvonne White, vice-chair of the Scottish Crofting Federation and Skye resident, welcomes Mr's Blackford's pledge: "Mr Blackford is setting a very good example. Tackling climate change is vital for all of us and crofters are very aware of this through having a close relationship with the land and weather. It is good to see one of our representatives showing leadership by pledging to invest his pension funds in something that will be more sustainable. Hopefully others will follow."

The Highland Council has expressed its deep disappointment at the news of further branch closures by the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Much of the towns threatened by RBS bank closures include those with the worst broadband speeds.  Kyle, Tongue and Beauly are among the worst 10% of speeds.

Internet speeds this low makes access to online banking and other services extremely difficult if not impossible. Without high speed and quality, it results in frustration and failure to complete specific online tasks.

Leader of the Highland Council Margaret Davidson said: “This will cause real difficulties for many customers and small businesses.

“While acknowledging the changing nature of banking and the rapid growth of digital banking services, there are many for whom this is neither a practical option, nor one they are comfortable with. So it is vital that they have access to physical face-to-face banking services.

Members of The Highland Council’s People Committee have approved the Council’s Local Housing Strategy for 2017 – 2022.

The strategy indicates that over 6,000 new houses (of which 2,500 will be social rented houses) will be needed over the next 5 years. Forty-five percent of these new homes will be required as a high priority in Inverness and the surrounding area.

Other communities that have also been identified in the strategy as a high priority for housing development include Portree, Broadford, Plockton and Dornie.

Chair of the Council’s People Committee Cllr Alasdair Christie said: “I welcome this strategy which will help to deliver the Council’s Programme priorities to provide homes across the Highlands so that both young and old have a secure roof over their heads; that the Council and its partners will aim to build 500 new affordable homes every year for the next 5 years; and improve the quality and condition of the housing stock and minimise fuel poverty.”

Kate Forbes MSP will today (Wednesday 6 December) urge her constituents to name and shame delivery firms who add on astronomical costs for sending parcels and packages to the Highlands.

In a speech in the Scottish Parliament chamber, the MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch will tell her parliamentary colleagues that safeguards should be introduced to stop Highlands and Islands consumers being ripped off by delivery firms.

The debate is being led by Richard Lochhead MSP, who is heading up the campaign for fairer delivery charges across remote and rural parts of Scotland.

In tomorrow's debate Kate Forbes MSP is expected to say: "Some online retailers charge more or refuse delivery because they classify the Highlands and Islands as 'overseas'.

"I go home to Dingwall from Edinburgh every week and I've never needed a passport. I've never needed a boat either.

The recent spate of bank closures across rural areas was raised in the Scottish Parliament chamber today (5 December) by Kate Forbes MSP.

In a Topical Question, the MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch highlighted the impact this will have on communities across Scotland and also asked the Scottish Government to raise the matter with the UK Government.

The prospect of RBS closures in Aviemore, Beauly, Kyle and Mallaig come less than a year after the Bank of Scotland shut its premises in Beauly, Broadford, Fortrose and Kingussie.

Speaking afterwards, Kate Forbes MSP said: “In light of the news that Royal Bank of Scotland intends to close 62 branches across Scotland, I thought it was vital that constituents’ concerns were raised in the chamber of the Scottish Parliament.

Local author, Liz MacRae Shaw, signed copies of her latest work in Inverness.

The writer gave a reading from her new historical novel, "No Safe Anchorage", at a meeting of the Highland Literary Society at the Sunset Café.

Liz also signed copies of her book at Waterstones on 29 November.

The very first Health Walk was held in Staffin late last month.

Five local residents gave up half an hour one afternoon to get out in the cold air and socialise with each other.

They took a route from Columba 1400 to An Coille Beag and back.  Most then attended the Senior Citizens Lunch there.

The next of these walks will also start from Columba 1400 on Wednesday 13 December.  Anyone attending should get there for 11:45am.

This is part of an initiative for regular groups to spring up in communities that is backed by Step It Up Highland, Paths for All and NHS Highland.  Walks are open to all at will not exceed 30 minutes.  Suitable footwear and clothing advised.  Call 01470 562 464 and ask for Angus to register an interest.  

A Buckinghamshire-based car hire company has agreed to abolish a "ridiculous" ferries levy for customers using their vehicles to visit rural parts of Scotland, following pressure from Kate Forbes MSP.

Green Motion UK had been adding an extra surcharge of £125 – plus £20 for every day of the entire hire – when their cars travel on a ferry.

This meant that anyone using the Mallaig to Armadale, Corran Ferry, Cromarty to Nigg, the Small Isles and Skye to the Outer Hebrides crossings would all have incurred a minimum £145 fee – with a total additional surcharge of £405 if the hire was for a fortnight.

But Green Motion UK have now agreed to ditch the unpopular policy, following extensive pressure from Kate Forbes MSP.

The fees came to light after a Badenoch B&B owner (who asked not to be named) contacted Ms Forbes on behalf of two Swiss tourists, Maik Christen and Therese Rellstab, who cancelled a trip to the Outer Hebrides because of the astronomical extra costs in excess of £400.

Kate Forbes MSP has accused high street banks of deserting the Highlands after the Royal Bank of Scotland were the latest to announce a series of closures across the region.

Branches in Aviemore, Beauly, Kyle of Lochalsh and Mallaig will all shut by the summer – leaving some constituents more than 40 miles away from their nearest RBS.

Although in all cases there are alternative arrangements with the local Post Office as well as a visiting mobile bank, Kate Forbes MSP said she was deeply concerned what the closures will mean for rural communities across Scotland.

The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch said: “RBS is just the latest bank to abandon the Highlands and forget the locally communities who depend on their services. These banks are deserting the Highlands.

“How are elderly and vulnerable customers supposed to access banking services, when they are expected to drive an hour from Mallaig to Fort William, or from Kyle to Portree? That is, of course, if the bus service is working perfectly.


Sleat's Clan Donald Skye has sadly announced the death of one of the visitors' favourites, Percy the Peacock.

The bird, renowned for his magnificent plumage, was found dead this morning and staff believe he may have been the victim of a fox attack.


MV Coruisk at the centre of the row

Skye MP Ian Blackford is seeing out the old year by calling on CalMac to make significant improvements in the new one.

In a hard hitting letter to the ferry company’s chief executive, Martin Dorchester, the MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber made clear his – and local – dissatisfaction with the Mallaig – Armadale service.

According to Mr Blackford when the MV Coruisk was transferred to provide additional crossings to Mull from Oban, the replacement vessels were not fit for purpose and were unable to use the link span port facilities – the drawbridges that enable vehicles to embark and disembark when tides affect water levels – at either Mallaig or Armadale.

He said: “You removed from the route the one vessel that was fit for purpose and gave us ones that could not be deployed from the link spans. That was an error of judgment.




Majory pictured second left (front row)


Skye's Marjory Jagger is amongst hundreds of recipients named in the 2017 New Year's Honours list.

The award of the British Empire Medal (BEM) has been made for her work as Manager with Skye and Lochalsh Young Carers and generally for her services to Young People and the community in the Inner Hebrides.






Outlander star Sam Heughan's autographed copy of the fund-raising calendar featuring Portree's canny canine, Blaze, raised just over £300.

Blaze's owner, Steve Miller put the full colour calender, signed by the actor who plays Jamie in the blockbuster series, up for grabs on eBay and after dozens of bids it was eventually bought for £302.

The money will now be added to the £2,000 plus which has been raised by sales so far with the money going to Skye Mountain Rescue team.

Saturday 31st December 2016, is the date from which it becomes an offence to use, possess, purchase or acquire an air weapon in Scotland without holding an air weapon certificate.

Around 18,000 air weapons have been surrendered since the summer and now Police Scotland have warned that anyone who still has one and wishes to keep it must apply for a licence.

Skye and Lochalsh are among five areas where flood alerts have been issued covering the next 24 hours.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) say the area can expect heavy and persistent rainfall overnight Friday and during Saturday. The Alerts cover Caithness and Sutherland, Easter Ross and the Great Glen, Findhorn Nairn Moray and Speyside, Skye and Lochaber and Wester Ross. For the latest updates, check our website

Sepa say: "A FLOOD ALERT has been issued for Skye and Lochaber.

"A spell of persistent and at times heavy rain is expected to affect the area from Friday through until Saturday evening. Some localised river flooding to low lying land and roads is possible. Surface water flooding issues are also possible leading to potential travel disruption and ponding of water in known trouble spots. Further updates will appear here if the situation changes.

Two off duty officers were back in touch with colleagues today (December 30) after spotting camper vans similar to the one wanted in connection with the vandalism of dinosaur footprints.

Members of the public are being asked to look out for a man believed to be aged in his late 40s to early 50s, of stocky build and approximately 6'1'' - 6'2''. It is believed he travelled in a white Hymer campervan.

Calmac have issued early notification that due to severe gale winds sailings from 17:00 onward today (December 30) are cancelled.


Efforts are underway to bring Skye's many and varied tourist operations under one umbrella for the first time.

The move follows a recent meeting with some of the organisations who have a significant interest in tourism related matters but now the intention is to bring onboard as many - and as varied - individuals, business and community organisations as possible.

Announcing the plan Rob Ware, Secretary with Destination Skye and Lochalsh
said: "As some of you may know the interim directors of Destination Skye and Lochalsh recently met with officials from Highlands and Island Enterprise, Visit Scotland, the Highland Council and Business Gateway to map a way forward for Skye tourism. This will include the creation of a new Destination Management Organisation for the island although this itself is in its very early stage.
"One of the action points (of many) that came from the meeting was for DSL to collate a list of all those projects across Skye that are being developed by local communities and interest groups that will directly involve tourism in any way.

"This may be projects such as additional car-parking, public toilet facilities, signage, visitor centres, viewpoints, trails, festivals or almost anything that will improve or enhance the visitor experience.

Attempts were expected to be made later today (December 30) to refloat a grounded yacht in Portree Harbour.

Local RNLI crew were called out shortly after 11am when the alert was raised after the boat was spotted at Cuddy Point following overnight windy conditions.

Police have now issued a description of the man they want to speak to in connection with the damage caused to dinosaur footprints on Staffin beach.

 The incident was said to have taken place on Wednesday (December 28) when it was reported that plaster-cast appears to have been poured into two of the fossilised dinosaur prints on the beach which has resulted in damage

Aldi is recalling its Specially Selected Tikka King Prawns, because the product contains Salmonella which could lead to food poisoning.

Symptoms caused by salmonella usually include fever, diarrhoea and abdominal cramps.

For full information follow the link here

One of the footprints on Staffin beach

Police in Portree have confirmed that the damage at Staffin Beach involves the popular dinosaur footprints.

They say that plaster was poured into two of the prints yesterday (Dec 28) and investigations are underway.

According to local officers they are keen to trace a lone male who was driving a campvan and was seen in the area. If anyone can help the number to ring is 101.

Marco and Calum together again

Kinloch Lodge’s latest new face is going to seem rather familiar.

For after a spell at Ullinish Lodge, local chef, Calum Montgomery, will return to the Michelin starred restaurant in the New Year.

Portree-born Calum made the move in January 2016, after three years working his way up the ranks from chef de partie to senior soux chef.  After a year away he will return to Kinloch as head chef.

Executive chef-director Marcello Tully said: “Having demonstrated the ability to run another kitchen, we’ve invited Calum back to help with Kinloch’s ongoing development.  I’m very much looking forward to welcoming him back into the Kinloch family, he’s a very creative but organised and really competent chef, with a cool temperament that fits in perfectly in my kitchen.”

Local police are hoping for help from the public as they carry out enquiries into damage reported at Staffin beach yesterday (Dec28)

If you were in the area and think you saw anything untoward let them know.

Humza Yousef


The second round of awards from the Ferries Accessibility Fund will see around £180,000 spent on projects to further improve accessibility on Scotland’s ferries, Minister for Transport and the Islands Humza Yousaf has announced.

The successful bidders include Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd which will get close to £50,000 to carry out access improvements across the Calmac network. Also getting support are Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Serco Northlink Ferries, Scrabster Harbour Trust and Shetland Islands Council.

The awards are made on a match-funding basis. The bids include plans to upgrade walkways and doors at harbours, the installation of vessel floor plans in braille, and improved access to facilities at ferry terminals.

Labour MSP Rhoda Grant has expressed concerns about the slow progress to finally make safe the Stromeferry bypass.

The Highlands and Island representative believes an upgrade is now long overdue and despite the £100 million pricetag believes the whole process has gone on long enough.

She said: "As you will know I have been involved in community discussions around the Stromeferry bypass upgrade, or replacement for several years now and to be honest I am concerned that talks seem not to be getting anywhere fast and if this key issue surrounding this vital link road are not kept high on the agenda, it could likely get kicked into the long grass.

Rhoda Grant MSP

"The existing Stromeferry Bypass has been subject to a number of landslide and rock fall events over the past few years causing temporary closures, requiring a 140 mile diversion. There have been all sorts of studies carried out as to how best to deal with this very serious issue.

The Highland Council, in association with Play Highland, are offering an award of £1000 to the group, organisation or community that has done the most to promote play.

The annual award is presented by the Play Improvement Group, which works to promote self-directed free play with daily access to the outdoors.

Tree surveys, part of the design and assessment work for the scheme to upgrade a section of the A82, will begin on 9 January 2017 and are expected to take 3 weeks, weather permitting.

The surveys are required to identify areas of habitat and assess the environmental impact of the proposed road upgrade.

 Although most of the work will not be carried out on the existing road, the traffic management measures will be in place to allow work beside the carriageway to be carried out safely.

The traffic management arrangements will include single lane restrictions using stop-go boards.

HM Coastguard - Western Isles, Skye and Lochaber is currently looking for new team members for the Teams in Skye, Harris, West side of Lewis and Benbecula.

 If you would like an application pack or would like further information, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

What the Coastguard Rescue Service does

A scene from the movie

Skye's challenging weather conditions - rather than its beauty - played a part in the making of what looks set to be the first movie blockbuster of 2017.

The island is better known as a wondeful backdrop for film makers but as far as the director of new action movie "Assassin's Creed" is concerned it was the rain, snow, sleat and even the odd peat bog or two that forged strong ties between him and two leading actors, Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard.

For the threesome came together in 2014 when they filmed on Skye for an adaption of Shakespeare's "Macbeth."

Fassbender, who starred in the lead role, later described Skye as "cold, wet and beautiful" and said the production encountered "rain, sleet and snow - all the wetness of the elements".

Christmas finished badly and sadly for a drink driver caught on Skye.

For local Police reported that as well as being over the limit the motorist was already  disqualified, give a high reading and if all that was not enough they also had children in the car at the time.

He's already a hero to many but now it seems that Portree superdog Blaze is getting plenty of celebrity backing.

Just weeks after singer Eddie Reader backed the local canine's canny fund-raising calendar the latest high profile backer is none other than Outlander heart throb Sam Heughan or as he is better known to his millions of fans, Jamie.

Money from Blaze's latest mountain top efforts, he is pictured on some of Skye and Scotland's iconic high places, is going to Skye Mountain Rescue Team with £2,000 plus already in the bank.

Blaze and his specially signed copy

Now though Blaze's owner Steve has put Sam's signed copy up for sale on eBay and already it has attracted bids.

Services across CalMac's network were, today (Monday December 26), beginning to resume after a very difficult weekend of festive weather, though some disruption remains.

High winds and rough sea states persist in many areas, but forecasts indicate that conditions may improve later.

Many routes will have a service today - some as per timetable, others with amended sailings - and customers, as ever, should check the status of their intended route on CalMac's website, social media and app.

The current period of bad weather looks likely to subside later today and into tomorrow (December 27) and it is hoped that Tuesday will bring with it a greater degree of certainty for passengers and a further increase in the number of routes returning to full service.

Skye has once again been chosen as one of the top getaway destinations in Scotland.

This time Cottages & Castles holiday lettings company has named the islamnd amongst its top five alongside Arran, Inverness, Cairngorms National Park region) and Fort William & Glencoe when it comes to self-catering holidays and mini-breaks.

They say that that staycations are now as popular as ever and attract a wide range of holidaymakers, from families to young couples and large groups of friends. 

The company reported a 25% increase in the total volume of bookings for 2016 compared to the previous year, with the majority of bookings being from holiday makers in the UK.

Kate with Lola's card

Dunvegan Primary School pupil, Lola Bold's artistic efforts have made her a winner.

The youngster's hand drawn Christmas card was chosen by Local MSP Kate Forbes as the best after she ran a competition taking entries from schools across her constituency.

Now Lola's card, along with all the others, are on display at Kate's Dingwall High Street office.


Local MP Ian Blackford has promised that the fight will go on in the New Year to bring MV Coruisk or a suitable alternative back to Skye.

Speaking via social media he said: "I am disappointed, but not surprised to hear that tour operators have withdrawn, or are thinking about withdrawing bus trips to Skye from their itineraries due to the unreliable ferry service from Mallaig to Armadale.

"I have been in discussion with CalMac, Island businesses, the Sleat Transport Forum and Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf since the MV Coruisk was withdrawn from the route last year and replaced by two unsuitable vessels.

"Problems started almost immediately as neither of them could use the linkspans in Mallaig or Armadale, so were more subject to the vagaries of weather and tide. This lead to numerous postponements and cancellations throughout the busy visitor season.

Police Scotland have been informed by British Telecoms that the 999 emergency telephone service is currently out of operation in the Staffin area of the Isle of Skye.

Engineers are working to restore the service as soon as possible.

Co-op is recalling its Hollow Milk Chocolate Santa because of two reports of alleged product tampering where the product was found to contain small batteries. The presence of small batteries makes this product unsafe to eat and presents a risk to health.



Talisker Distillery are amongst those who have lodged planning applications as they look to construct a new  car park to accomodate 63 spaces with pedestrian footpath linking it to the main building.

Other applications are as follows:

Highland Council's administrative offices will close at 4pm on 23 December and reopen on 4 January.

The Service Centre will close at 4pm on 23 December and open as normal on 28, 29 and 30 December (closing at 4pm on 30 December)

Service Points will be on reduced opening hours. For further details on individual office opening hours, please check the details of each office



@LochabSkyePol have beaten the odds to take top place in this year's national Police Tweet Awards.

The local boys and girls in blue were hailed as overall winners of the best corporate account. Now the question is who will represent them in California?


Following more than three years in the planning, endless meetings and no fewer than 25 fundraisers, the Royal National Mod, Scotland’s premier Gaelic festival of language, arts and culture, was back in Stornoway in October 2016. But with an estimated 8000 attending, how does an event of this scale all come together? 

BBC ALBA’s Trusadh series looks behind the scenes in Mod Week 2016 as we meet some of those who help make the Mod happen on the ground, and follow the journeys of a number of those competing.

The Mod team is a unique collaborative effort of mod staff and volunteers alike and we meet them as they work tirelessly behind the scenes throughout the week. The local committee are key and have been fundraising for three years, raising around £30,000, and the week itself sees over 100 stewards in action.

Police can confirm that sadly a 79 year-old woman has died following a collision on the A82 near Lochend.

Emergency services were alerted to the collision around 12:50pm today (Thursday 22nd December 2016) involving a Ford Focus driven by the woman and a Land Rover Discovery. The occupants of the latter were not injured.

The road between Drumnadrochit and Dochgarroch was not expected to be open again until early evening.

Blaze and his fund-raising calendar

Skye superdog Blaze and his calendar fund-raiser have brought in £2,000 for the island's Mountain Rescue Team.

The doggy determination of the local pooch has paid off with copies of his colourful collection of photos snapped up before the New Year.

Police issued a warning just after midday today (December 22) that there is currently a partial failure of the 999 telephone system in the Staffin and surrounding area, in the north of Skye.

This affects 999 calls from landlines only. The 101 system and Mobile telephone networks are working as normal. Work is ongoing to restore the service.

Film maker looks to Skye scenery

Do you have or know of an inspirational personal story that others might love to hear? Then Stockholm based film maker Gareth Warland wants to know!

For Gareth has a New Year deadline to meet if he is to go ahead with a major new online film for one of the UK's leading drinks brands.

He said: "What I'm looking for is a current story or incident that people can connect to, something which would inspire and be remembered.

"I am keen to use the wonderful setting of Skye in which to film and if I can also find a local story from there all the better.

Calm now but warnings issued


Calmac have issued further travel advice in advance of the arrival of Storm Barbara.

The arrival of the UK’s second named storm of the winter has been well-publicised by meteorologists and is due to make landfall on Scotland’s west coast late Thursday/early Friday (December 22/23).

Named Storm Barbara, the deep depression weather system is expected to bring damaging, high winds with it and an amber ‘be aware’ warning has been issued by the Met Office.

Ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne is advising customers to pay close attention to weather forecasts and to plan accordingly where possible.

“Storm Barbara is well-forecast and will undoubtedly bring with it potential for widespread disruption, particularly on Friday, but also extending into Saturday at the moment,” said CalMac’s operations director Drew Collier. “As ever, we will do everything we can to safely deliver our services across the 200 miles of our network, but, at the moment, it seems that significant disruption is highly likely.

“We recognise that people are travelling home to see friends and family, and that anticipation of the festivities runs high at this time of year. Be assured, we will make all efforts to ensure that we can help people make their journeys when safe to do so and that we will continually scrutinise forecasts to identify possible windows of opportunity for each and every route. But the weather is outwith our gift and could cause major issues.

“Customers are strongly advised to pay close and regular attention to weather forecasts, as well as regularly checking online at, on the CalMac app and on our social media feeds – all of these are updated on a continuous basis and will always offer our best and most up-to-date service information.”

Labour MSP David Stewart has supported a members’ motion in the Scottish Parliament condemning the illegal puppy trade as a blight on animal welfare.

Mr Stewart, who represents the Highlands and Islands, Labour’s spokesperson for animal welfare, highlighted that thousands of dogs are brought to Scotland each year to be sold and are often bred in substandard conditions, regularly suffering from severe illnesses when sold.

“These puppies are raised and transported in conditions that foster worms and parasites or even distemper. Some have genetic defects or personality disorders,” he said.

“By the time that a customer has purchased a puppy and realised that medical help is needed, all too often, and tragically, it is too late.”

The Scottish Government has issued a seasonal warning about the dangers of high places ironically after two rescue call outs on Skye within two days

On Monday (December 19) Skye mountain rescue were called to the Quiraing at around 2.30pm after being alerted to a woman and child in difficulty. Fortunately the pair were found with no injuries and were both led to safety off the ridge.

Just a day later searchers were once again on the Quiraing after a male walker was said to have got into difficulty while trying to navigate his way. Again he was brought to safety.

This week Scotland’s Sports Minister, Aileen Campbell urged outdoor enthusiasts and those going out into the hills to make sure they are properly prepared.

NHS Highland is appealing for people to plan ahead for their families health needs over the festive period.

With many pharmacies closing over Christmas and New Year, people are advised to check the NHS Highland website for information on when their local pharmacy is open, and to stock-up on medical supplies such as pain-killers and any regular medications prescribed by your doctor.

NHS Highland’s head of pharmaceutical services Mary Morton said: “As winter approaches, it’s important for people not to forget their health and the health of others they care for.

“We know there are a lot of things on your to do list at this time of year, but it’s important to be prepared by ordering only the repeat medicines required and stocking the medicine cabinet with plenty of cold and flu remedies.”

Over 250 crofters attended the recent Crofting Roadshows, organised by the Crofting Commission and working in partnership with SAC Consulting, Scottish Crofting Federation, NFU Scotland and Registers of Scotland.
Ten roadshows were held this year covering areas from Skye to Shetland and Argyll providing crofters with the opportunity to find out more about the Crofting Commission elections and discuss crofting issues.  The Commission gave a short presentation on the up and coming elections encouraging crofters play their part in helping to secure the future of crofting by standing as candidates and using their votes.  This included an overview of the work of a Commissioner; who can stand for election and how the election process will be carried out. 

Police in the Highlands and Islands are warning domestic abuse offenders that there is no hiding place as they carry out a range of activities during their annual festive campaign.

Over the festive period, Officers from the Domestic Abuse Investigation Unit will be supporting local policing resources to target those responsible for violence, intimidation, harassment and bullying against partners, ex-partners and their family members.

Visits will be conducted to those currently with bail restrictions for domestic abuse offences to ensure they are complying with their conditions. Enforcement activity will take place over the festive season and those found to be responsible for crimes of this nature will be dealt with robustly.

Cuillin FM has managed to repair its lighting damage mast, just before the latest stormy  weather came along.

After weeks of being off the air on 102.7FM the community station is now back broadcasting on the frequency, albeit not at full strength just yet.

Announcing the resumption of normal services, the station said: "It really is the most wonderful time of the year! We're so pleased to announce that our engineers managed to beat the winds and get up our main mast at Skriaig yesterday to fit a replacement antenna to replace our lightning-damaged one.

Sleat Community Trust is to go ahead with plans to identify up to four housing plots at Tormore.

After a successful community consultation the Trust have been given a strong local mandate to proceed and in particular to provide discounted "affordable" sites in the area.

In their report back of the consultation they said that money raised from the sale would go toward funding the redevelopment of the Armadale trading site.

Summing up the Trust said: In the light of the feedback received from the community and evidenced by the consultation, the Board has decided to proceed with idenitfying and mapping up to four plots.

Martin Dorchester

Calmac chief Martin Dorchester has pledged that the company will continue to learn and adjust as they come to terms with the impact of managing the first summer season with road equivalent tariff.

Although the company has come in for strong criticism, especially over the handling of the Mallaig - Armadale route and the high level of cancelled sailings this year, the Chief Executive Officer has a upbeat theme in his Christmas message for 2016.

He said: "It is that time of year when we turn our attention to family and friends in anticipation of the fun and relaxation of the festive season.

And, for many of you, we know CalMac plays a significant part in making that happen as loved ones journey to and from the islands for the festivities – weather permitting, of course; as ever, we advise those who are travelling to keep any eye on our service updates online, on our app and on social media, and to watch the weather forecasts. Latest information is also fed through to media travel desks. We will always do our best to get you home safely!

The latest findings of the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) Business Panel survey have been published.

A total of 1,004 businesses throughout the region took part in the survey between 29 September and 3 November.

While overall confidence in Scotland’s economy remains low, over four fifths (82%) of respondents reported good or steady performance in their own business over the past 12 months, and 89% anticipate growth or stability in the next two years.

Over a third (36%) of companies that export from the region reported an increase in exports in the past six months.
There are varying views from businesses in the Highlands and Islands on the importance of access to the European single market and free movement of people across the European Union. While many do not currently see these as being important to the operation of their business, there is a clear cohort that do.

A record number of promising and talented filmmakers have submitted entries to FilmG – the national Gaelic short film competition.

This is the ninth year of MG ALBA’s competition - and more young filmmakers and school groups are going it alone, without the help of FilmG tutors, than ever before.

Overall, there were an amazing 105 entries, including 56 film entries in the Youth section and 25 in the Open category. Newly introduced prizes for Best Sports Commentary and Best Script also attracted exciting entries on top of the films, and the organisers predict that judges will have some tough decisions to make over the coming couple of weeks. It is also hoped that this year’s People’s Choice award will attract the usual stir and that last year’s record number of votes can be beaten.

All film entries can be viewed online from Tuesday 20th December and voting for films is now open until February – before the winners are announced at FilmG’s glamorous annual awards ceremony, at The Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow on February 17, 2017.  

New chair, Russell Smith

 The newly appointed chair of the Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) outlined his plans for the work the SCF has to do in support of crofting over the coming two years.

At their board and council meeting the SCF said thanks to the out-going chair, Fiona Mandeville from Skye, who stepped down on completion of her two year tenure. Fiona handed the role to Russell Smith, a crofter from Bonar Bridge in Sutherland.

Mr Smith commented, “The Federation has achieved a great deal in the past two years, not least the pledges made by the SNP in their manifesto and confirmed recently by the Cabinet Secretary for crofting, Fergus Ewing MSP. The pledges mirror the ‘Five Actions for Crofting’ published by the SCF just before the election.

Santa's little helpers have managed to sort through the chaos and fun of Saturday's two mile event around Portree.

So if you want to find out where you - or someone you know finished than follow the link here


Ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) is warning anyone planning to travel by ferry this week and into the holiday period that strong winds are forecast in many parts of its network leading to possible disruption of ferry services.

Operations Director Drew Collier said: “Weather forecasts for the west of Scotland are predicting a stormy week for many especially as we near the weekend when people will be travelling for Christmas.We will review sailings on a case by case basis but would advise anyone planning to travel by ferry to take this into account when planning journeys in the next few days." 

Ross (right) presents one of the defibrillators


The week-end saw an anniversary landmark for Portree fund raiser extraordinaire Ross Cowie.

For not only did it mark the catalyst for the founding of his incredibly successful charity, Lucky2BHere, but also the fact…that he is still here to celebrate it.

On Saturday (December 17) via social media Ross, who suffers from cardiomyopathy, a genetic heart condition, spoke about his own life changing moment.

He said: “Exactly 10 years ago tonight I had a cardiac arrest in the Shinty Clubhouse in Portree.”

In fact his life was only saved because of the quick response that Ross received not only from local ambulance crews, doctors and nurses but also the helicopter paramedics who happened to be in the vicinity.

Lidl UK is recalling two batches of Kania Gravy Granules (Meat and Chicken) because of contamination with a chemical contaminant known as xylene.

The Food Standards Agency said that exposure to xylene in food products represents a health risk as it can cause adverse effects such as headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. The contaminant levels in this product exceed those set to minimise this risk and the product is therefore being recalled as a precaution.


Individuals and schools from the Isle of Skye and Raasay have received recognition of the important contribution they make to their communities during the Eilean a’ Cheò Civic Awards held on 5 December in Portree

This is the sixth year of the Awards which are organised by the Ward 11 Highland Councillors to recognise people from all age groups and walks of life who have contributed to the success and wellbeing of their local communities.

The Community Award was presented to Mary Mackenzie from Kilmuir. Mary, a stalwart of the Community Council and Village Hall committee for decades, was nominated by Kilmuir Community Council. She has been instrumental in a number of community projects, including the two Kilmuir & Kilmaluag ‘Echoes From the Past’ books, printed under the aegis of Kilmuir History and Heritage Group in 2006 and 2012, the refurbishment of the Kilmuir Village Hall, and countless fundraising events. 

In their nomination the Community Council said: “Mary is always active in helping older people to maintain their independence and provides them with the support they need to stay in their own homes, including providing transport to Portree for shopping. She is a great support and encouragement to everyone that knows her.”


There were Santas large, Santas small, Santas tall and Santas short, Santas towing dogs and Santas being towed by dogs, even Santas pushing prams.

In fact wherever you looked in Portree earlier today...there were Santas everywhere!

Around 250 Father Christmas clad competitors turned up for Skye's very first running of the Santa Dash with young and old - plus lots in between - having some festive fun on the local streets.


The question is do you recognise anyone taking part?





 Developing Your International Tourism Markets is the theme for a one day  introductory workshop to be staged on Skye and its free to attend!

This fully-funded one-day workshop is aimed at tourism businesses in the early stages of developing or growing their international tourism markets. The workshop will help companies to attract more international visitors – and understand why international visitors can be good for their business.

To be staged at the Aros Centre in Portree on Tuesday 24 January the event is described as interactive, fast-moving, and covers a lot of ground.

The organisers say: “You’ll walk away with a better understanding of international tourism markets, and strategies to help your business make the most of international opportunities.

While they've made it! Lochaber & Skye's tweets galore have taken them into the final of this year's Police Twitter Awards.

The question now is whether the local boys and girls in blue will find Christmas has come early when the overall winners for the Best Tweeting Corporate Police awards are announced on Friday 23 December?

The Scottish Parliament has approved legislation that will help ensure next year’s Crofting Commission elections run smoothly.


Covering the election of Commissioners to the Crofting Commission – the regulatory body for crofting – the approved legislation covers:

  • Who should be able to stand for election
  • Absent and proxy votes
  • The maximum amount and process for election expenses.
  • The process of appointing a new Commissioner, should a vacancy arise before 2022


Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity Fergus Ewing said: ""Electing Commissioners to the Crofting Commission has helped give crofters a stronger say in how they are regulated. Elected members can bring valuable local knowledge and experience, and are needed to help safeguard a strong and vibrant future for crofting.

P&BCT Board Members inspect the steps at Leasagary Bridge

It's taken longer than expected but improvement work is now expected to began soon around a popular Portree nature walk.

About a year Portree and Braes Community Trust made a commitment to repair the wooden steps at Leasagary Bridge nature walk however, due to issues relating to ownership, things have taken some time to sort out.

Crofters in the North of Skye could help shape the future when Scottish parliamentarians meet in the New Year.

For "Grazing the Edge" a 35 minute film which shows Staffin crofters at work is set to be shown to a Scottish Government cross-party gathering when they meet to discuss crofting in Holyrood.

The film features local crofters who have sheep on the Corries and Staffin General grazings, which cover large swathes of hill ground lying on and below the Ridge and are close to the Storr and Hill of the Red Fox. Drones and GoPros captured the crofters going about their work and Staffin’s landscape is also shown in all its glory.

The contribution Staffin crofters make to managing the land of “high nature value” is the focus of the 35-minute film which includes appearances by Ronald Angus MacDonald, DolAlec Gillies, Iain MacLeod (Marrishadder), Donald MacDonald (Clachan), Stewart Clark (Stenscholl) and Donald MacLeod (Culnacnoc).

Fiona going for top title


There’s no doubt that Skye is more than pulling its weight, at least when it comes to the world of power lifting.

For the tiny island community now has not one but two UK Master champions.

Since he took up the sport Portree’s Davie Hearn has consistently broken records at British, European and World level in the championships staged by the World Drug Free Power Lifting Association.

So no-one should have been surprised when the 75 year old took well- known local endurance athlete, Fiona MacDonald from Uig under his wing and she has now also joined him as a UK Masters Champion.

Davie in action

The pair travelled down to Glasgow for the Scottish Division UK Masters event and against the best in their age brackets were overall winners in the full power event.


The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has officially opened its new North headquarters - further strengthening the protection of communities.

Although sited in Dyce, Aberdeen the facility represents an investment of £1million and will serve Highland, including Skye and Lochalsh, Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles, as well as Perth and Kinross, Dundee and Angus, and Aberdeenshire and Moray.

It was formally opened by Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs Annabelle Ewing with chair of the SFRS Board, Pat Watters and Chief Officer, Alasdair Hay, in attendance.

Who needs Rudolph when you go to Raasay?


Three local businesses have made the final cut for the prestigious 2017 Scottish Rural Awards.

For many the awards, partnered by Scottish Field magazine and the Scottish Countryside Alliance, are seen as the ultimate benchmark of excellence in rural Scotland.

Celebrating the true industry, innovation, dedication and community spirit of those who live and work in the countryside, the Scottish Rural Awards culminates with a black tie awards ceremony and gala dinner, which will take place on Thursday 16 March 2017 at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh.

All categories, except the Scottish Rural Lifetime Achievement Award, were open to businesses, organisations and individuals to receive nominations from customers, employees or through self-nomination between 1 August and 14 October 2016. The Rural Hero category was open for nominations from anyone except the nominated person(s) themselves.

Local concerns to reach the finalist stage are as follows:

Proposals to abolish the board of Highlands and Islands Enterprise have met with strong opposition from local authority leaders.  

Leader of The Highland Council, Margaret Davidson has joined with the Leaders of all the  local authorities in the Highlands and Islands, in writing to Cabinet Secretary Keith Brown in a call to protect local decision making for Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

Matt (centre)

Portree businessman Matt Harrison has launched a campaign to try and save the under threat Highland Council Ranger Service.

In an open letter the boss of A.C.E. Target Sports says:

"Dear all

In light of recent proposals to delete the Highland Council Rangers Service as part of the Council’s budget cuts, I wish to voice my objections to this and hope you will join me in doing the same. Though they may not be statutory, the Rangers Service helps to facilitate so many statutory obligations as well as providing an invaluable service to highland communities by bringing together the two things that make this such a special place to live and visit – the environment and its people.

"The Rangers Service is one of very few front-facing sectors within the Council working on the ground who are popular, respected and efficient in what they do within local communities. Their work in schools and with community groups is essential to instil a sense of ownership and pride in the local area, and plug so many holes which exist in education and social care. For example this year alone the Ranger Service delivered nearly 300 guided walks and events, were involved in almost 400 school projects as well as a wide array of community led projects, and directly engaged with over 8000 primary school pupils.

Electors are being invited to have their say on a review of polling places throughout Highland Council area which proposes a shift towards using primary schools wherever possible.  Documents are available on the council’s website for consideration at ‘review of polling stations’.

The outcomes of the consultation and review will determine local polling stations used in future elections for the UK Parliament, Scottish Parliament; and Highland Council.

The aim of the review is to ensure that every elector in the Highland Council area has reasonable facilities for voting and that the polling places are accessible for all electors including those who are disabled.

Cuillin FM's Cram the Van Christmas Toy Appeal looks to have gone well this year.

Pictured is the commuity radio's Studio 2 full of your toy donations from this year's Appeal.

Commenting on social media the stations said: "What an absolutely immense effort from the community and all these toys and gifts are going to local families."

Now they've just got to sort them in time for Santa!

The Co-op is recalling its Irresistible Gingerbread Latte Cake because the product contains walnuts, which is not mentioned on the label.

According to the Food Standards Agency this makes the product a possible health risk for anyone with an allergy to nuts.

For further information follow the link here


People living in the Highlands are being asked to remember to recycle as much waste as possible over the festive period.

Cardboard, paper, food tins, drinks cans, envelopes, food and drink cartons, aerosols and clean plastic bottles pots, tubs and trays can all be recycled in your blue bin, which not only helps the environment, but saves space in your refuse bin, and saves Council taxpayers’ money.

Councillor Allan Henderson, Chair of The Highland Council’s Community Services Committee said: “We all tend to have a lot more rubbish over the Christmas period and it can be tempting just to throw it all into a black bin bag, but with just a bit of effort, we can all make sure we have a green Christmas, by making use of the recycling facilities available.

An anonymous donor on Skye has significantly boosted the ability of charity volunteers to respond to life or death marine rescue situations

British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), a wildlife charity which responds to stranded, injured and entangled whales, dolphins, porpoises and seals, has taken ownership of two new trailers to help in their efforts to protect marine life in the north-west Highlands.

A team of volunteers covering Skye and Wester Ross have spent the past two years training volunteers to be able to assist in rescues and have also been making efforts to ensure that adequate equipment is in place.

An online appeal raised funds for an initial whale pontoon – specialised inflatable kit that can stabilised and help refloat stranded whales but now, thanks to an anonymous donor who owns a holiday home on Skye, a further two pontoons have been purchased with one stored on the island itself.

Ainmean-Àite na h-Alba (AÀA) has put its Gaelic Place-name Policy out for consultation to give the public an opportunity to have a say on how place-names are dealt with throughout Scotland.

As the national advisory partnership for Gaelic place-names in Scotland AÀA follow a set of guidelines whilst conducting place-name research. These guidelines are designed to ensure that the Gaelic forms of place-names are determined in a coordinated manner to a national standard, thus strengthening their impact on Gaelic development and usage, and minimising the time and uncertainty for those implementing policies involving Gaelic place-names.

It is also intended to give the place-name forms credibility with Gaelic users and non-users alike and to facilitate popular use.

Peter May

This year’s Skye Book Festival has been hailed as one of the country’s best by leading writers.

Having had a successful fifth year, organisers of the Portree-based event say that the plaudits from their guests are most welcome and are confirmation that the major sponsors of Book Festivals throughout Scotland can continue to get good returns for their support.

Headlining Skye’s 2016 Festival was the multi award-winning author of The Lewis Trilogy and Coffin Road, Peter May, whose sell-out evening event was specially funded by Skye’s best-known export, Talisker whisky.

Heaping praise on the rapidly-growing event May said “The Skye Book Festival offered a wonderful welcome and a terrific event packed with enthusiastic book lovers; everyone was very welcoming, and the event was excellent.” 

The Highland LEADER Programme is encouraging potential applicants to come forward with project ideas.

Funding of over £6.6 million is available for projects that will benefit communities across the Highlands, including Skye and the Small Isles.

Following a period of uncertainty regarding the future of EU Programmes following the UK Referendum, Scottish Government has recently announced that LEADER funds can be committed up until the point the UK leaves the EU. Jon Hollingdale,

One of the first to benefit is Lochcarron Community Development Company with funding of £33,529 approved for a two year project at Kirkton Woodlands.

Highland Council has issued a reminder that consultation continues on draft Landscape Appraisals to help in the consideration of future proposals for wind energy development.

Two landscape sensitivity appraisals are currently being consulted on: one for the Caithness study area and another covering The Black Isle, surrounding hills and Moray Firth Coast. They are the next two in a programme of appraisals for areas in Highland that are under pressure for wind energy development.

Consultation on the two appraisals began on 25 November, following the Council’s adoption of its Onshore Wind Energy

Government Minister Humza Yousaf


Steel fabrication for the two new 102-metre ferries for the Clyde and Hebrides ferry network is approaching the halfway point.

Minister for Transport and the Islands Humza Yousaf has been given a progress report on the project during a visit to Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited (FMEL) on the Clyde.

The £97 million contract, which was awarded to FMEL by Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) in October 2015, has safeguarded 125 jobs in the Port Glasgow and Inverclyde area. As a result of FMEL winning the contract they have created 101 new jobs at the shipyard.

Yesterday the doors of The Three Chimneys closed for the last time in 2016.  

The Colbost-based restaurant has been operating seven days a week for the past eleven months of this season.

Work will soon begin on building the restaurant's third kitchen, which will be a bespoke design by the current Head Chef, Scott Davies, and General Manager, Paul Hughes.

Home Loch

Plans to improve a local loch and its surroundings could turn into an atmospheric outdoor homage to one of Raasay’s most celebrated folk.
Currently the island community is looking into ways to transform the surroundings of Home Loch and one novel idea would be to link the changes to inspirational Gaelic poet, Sorley MacLean.

Santas' little helpers are needed to make sure festive in fun in Portree stays on the right track.

This Saturday (December 17) sees the very first Santa run around the streets of the village with the event centred on Somerled Square.

However, with just days left to go the organisers are still seeking volunteers to help out.

Runners found themselves battling with the weather as much as the course during the second race in the Skye and Lochalsh Winter race series.

The event itself proved to be a close run thing with first place Chris James only just catching second man home, Gareth Craft on the very last hill. First lady home was Iona Craft who finished third overall.

Twenty one runners took part in the Skye and Lochalsh Running Club event with the start at Braes Village Hall
Third male was Dave Canning (29.51 with second lady home Clara Connell (39.21) and 3rd lady,  Kay MacDonald (44.02).

Full results below:

What does it take to run a successful business?  Years of experience in a particular field?  Industriousness?  A passion for your job?

Marianne de Raad has combined all of those qualities when she created her business, Skirinish Publishing.  

Marianne's first publishing experience came when she was in her 20's.  Back in her native Holland, her passion for books led her to become head of the production and editorial department at Amsterdam University Press.

Marianne founded Skirinish Publishing earlier in 2016 and aims to publish books that celebrate the Isle of Skye.  “That's where my enthusiasm lies,” Marianne explains.  “I am looking to publish interesting books about Skye and to work with local people.”

Staffin Gym’s Sam Crowe and Anna MacDonald.


Staffin's oown community gym is shaping up to be a real local assest.

And, next month the local facility, officiallt named Aurora Fitness is set to celebrate its first birthday by preparing to attract even more users.

As well as recruiting more local members the gym is also planning to involve more visitors during the 2017 season.
According to the Staffin Trust lready one in 10 local residents are now card-carrying members at the gym, which  is based upstairs at Staffin Hall. For the coming season it intends to promote its presence more heavily to guests staying at Staffin B&Bs and self-catering properties.

At the request of the Convener, the interim CEO called a special meeting of the Crofting Commission on Friday 9 December 2016. 

The Commissioners present reaffirmed the importance of working together effectively in the final months of their terms.  The Board also discussed the status of the meeting held in Brora in September and how to move forward. 

The Board decided that there was one meeting in Brora which took place in two valid parts, the meeting previously referred to as a special meeting being a continuation of the scheduled Board meeting.  Any consequences from this will be considered at their Board meeting on Wednesday 14 December 2016.

Four new retained firefighters are being recruited in Broadford.

Scotland's Fire and Rescue Service are looking for locals to step forward and join the local station to help save lives.

Members of The Highland Council will be asked to approve a proposed scheme to make workforce reductions at the Council meeting on 15 December.

 The Employee Early Release Scheme (EERS) is designed to make reductions in the council workforce in a way that is affordable and in line with the reductions in funding available for the 2017/18 budget. It is inevitable that a further significant reduction in budgets will require the Council to reduce the size of its workforce.

FIREFIGHTERS attended more than 500 accidental house fires during last year’s festive and New Year celebrations, latest figures show.

They were alerted to a total of 517 such emergencies at homes across Scotland between 7 December and 11 January.

Accidental fires over the winter months can be caused by an increased use of heating and electrical appliances plus higher alcohol consumption during the holiday season.

Meanwhile, the colder weather can also see firefighters attend more traffic collisions on the roads, caused by treacherous driving conditions during ice and flooding.


West Highland businesses are being given a helping hand to achieve Investors in Young People Accreditation

The accreditation is part of the wider Scottish Government Youth Employment agenda and helps organisations who are looking to recruit, retain and develop Young People.

Now two organisations, the regional Developing the Young Workforce and Investors in Young People are pushing to encourage more businesses in the West Highlands to achieve this valuable accreditation and reap its many benefits.

The Highlands UK Parliament constituencies are set to undergo changes.  The Boundary Commission for Scotland is consulting on proposals to create three new constituencies.

The new layout has raised fears, including concern over the potential difficulties for MPs servicing larger constituencies.

Plans to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 will result in three new Highland constituencies, known as Argyll, Bute and Lochaber; Inverness and Skye; and Highland North.  No changes are to be made to the boundary of the Western Isles constituency, Na h-Eileanan an Iar.

MV Loch Fyne

With sailings cancelled and local businesses hit, Skye MP Ian Blackford is to meet with Scottish Government Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf to try and thrash out a solution.

Close to 400 sailings were cancelled over the summer on the Mallaig - Armadale route and the subsequent fall in ferry traffic is said to have hit local businessess hard. At Clan Donald Lands Trust alone they have seen a massive 25% fall in coach traffic .

Recently Sleat Transport Forum alerted Mr Blackford that what they see as a "wholly unsuitable" vessel, the MV Loch Fyne, had been seen out on local waters and Calmac have since confirmed that the ship could well be taking over the service route next year.

Mr Blackford said: “Clearly Caledonian MacBrayne have not learned from the fiasco they created last year. Neither have they listened to what they were being told about the havoc wreaked on the tourist industry, where many businesses lost out due to the unreliable ferry service.

The Scottish Government has declared an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone requiring that all poultry and captive birds must be kept indoors, or otherwise kept separate from wild birds.

This precautionary step has been taken in response to multiple reports of a strain of highly pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N8 causing high mortality in wild birds in mainland Europe, mostly affecting waterfowl. There have been no cases of this strain detected in the UK.

The Prevention Zone applies to all of Scotland and will remain in place for 30 days. A Zone has also been declared in England.

Within the Zone bird keepers are legally obliged to take all practicable steps to ensure that poultry and other captive birds kept separate from wild birds - in most cases this will be by keeping birds housed.

Work was underway this week to repair Cuillin FM's lightning-damaged mast.

According to the community radio station, engineers are expected to be on site until Friday which could result in some outages for those who listen on the 102.7FM frequency.

They added: "Apologies for any inconvenience but this first phase of repairs will greatly increase and stabilise our signal which has been reduced for a while now."


Highlands & Islands MSP David Stewart has written to the Chief Constable of Police Scotland in relation to the deployment of Wildlife Crime Liaison Officers (WCLO).
“I understand that within Police Scotland there are 14 Divisions and each Division has a dedicated  WCLO,” said David Stewart. “However, having just read the Government Annual Report recently released, called ‘Wildlife Crime in Scotland,’ I am concerned that the area with the highest number of recorded wildlife crimes in Scotland is in the Highlands & Islands, (61) followed by Aberdeenshire and Moray, (45),obviously both areas in my region. Perhaps this is understandable when you consider the land mass involved in these areas. This leads me to wonder why the Divisions with the highest number of wildlife crimes have the same number of WCLO’s as those Divisions with the lowest number of such crimes. I would have thought that more resources would be directed to the areas where wildlife crime is more prevalent given that these types of crime are very hard to deal with and detect and the Police have to work particularly closely with their partner agencies.”

Regional Screen Scotland, which operates the Screen Machine, has raised the necessary funds to carry out a major refit of the cinema vehicle, which will add a minimum of six more years to its operational life.

The Screen Machine, a regular visitor to Raasay, Kyleakin, Lochcarron and Mallaig, is the UK’s only full-time self-contained mobile cinema, bringing the latest cinema releases to communities across the North and West of Scotland.

The Screen Machine service was originally launched in 1998, and the current Screen Machine has been on the road since 2005, spending up to 48 weeks a year bringing the big screen experience to communities from Barra to Bettyhill and from Brodick to the Outer Isles of Orkney.

Judge Calum MacLean presents Mod Vlog award to Beth


Eleven years old Beth Campbell from Skye has been announced among the winners of MG ALBA’s Mòd vlogging competition.

Thirty nine entries – 17 from young people and 22 from adults – were submitted to the Vlog a’ Mhòid/Mod Vlog competition, which asked for short video blogs about the Mòd from anyone participating in any way whether it be as a performer, TV viewer, radio listener, competition adjudicator or Mòd supporter.  Each category winner receives the prize of a GoPro camera.

Winner in the young person’s single vlog category was Beth Campbell, 11, from Kilmaluag on the Isle of Skye with her vlog entitled Clann Thròndairnis aig Mòd nan Eilean Siar 2016. Beth was part of a group called Clann Thròndairnis, who competed in several competitions at the Mòd, and her vlog tells the story of their journey to Stornoway, the group competing and the prizes they won. The judges particularly praised her ability to communicate her story in such a fun and vibrant way, using video effects and pictures to enhance her vlog.

Portree is one of a series of ports across Scotland set to see another bumper season in 2017.

Following a seventh successive record year. industry marketing body Cruise Scotland, said cruise calls climbed by 35% to 676 in 2016, while passenger numbers rose by 5.3% to about 484,000.

Already across Scotland a total of 808 ships have been booked to call in 2017, 19.5% up on this year.

A Sleat student is heading home to celebrate being one of Scotland’s finest young musicians.

Piper and fiddler Séamus Ó Baoighill, who has just turned 19, was a finalist in BBC Radio Scotland’s 2015 Young Traditional Musician of the Year and returns home with the finalists and winners for a concert on Tuesday 13 December, as part of the Traditional Music and Song Association’s national tour and cultural exchange programme.

The tour, which kicked off in Helensburgh in October, takes the young musicians back to their home towns as well as other parts of Scotland so they can inspire others and thank their communities for the support they have had over the years. 

Séamus was a pupil of Sleat Primary School on Skye and has been learning to play the pipes and fiddle since the age of eight. He is currently in his first year of studying music at Queen’s University Belfast and says the encouragement he got from his teachers has inspired him to pursue a career in traditional music.  

Hugh in his new premises

Isle of Skye based marketing agency Hugh Campbell Marketing has moved to new premises in Portree.

Hugh Campbell said: “The company has been gradually evolving over the past two years and was at a stage we needed a formal base in Portree.

"We have had an on-going partnership with Scottish charity Lucky2Bhere for several years and they offered us an office share. It is a fantastic opportunity for us and we hope this will be a platform for business growth going forward.”

Sascha out on the water

Skye Sailing Club and teenager member Sacha MacInnes are hoping to bring top honours back to the island in the new year.

For both have found themselves amongst the nominations for the forthcoming RYA Scotland Annual awards.

The sailing club is one of just three to be nominated for the prestigious RYA Scotland Club of the Year title while Sasha, 17, gained popular support locally as she tried to raise money to cover the costs of her volunteer work in Kenya. She has been nominated for the RYA Scotland Elizabeth Mackay Award

Announcing the nominations the RYA said: "The 2016 season has been an extremely busy and successful one so it is great to reflect at this time of year on all the hard work, commitment and achievements that have come from all areas of our sport and from across all of Scotland.

Crofter Donald MacSween – or Sweeny as he is better known to many – captured the imagination of BBC ALBA viewers last year as he tried to turn his passion for crofting in to a full-time occupation.

Now a year on, BBC ALBA returns to The Croft for a new six-part series to see how his plans for year two are progressing.

Skye shinty is hoping its new status will open up future funding sources and give it better financial sercurity in the future.

There was confirmation at the Skye Camanachd AGM that the club has now become a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) and is now an incorporated body which has charitable status under the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005.

Skye Sailing Club are hoping some one out there will own to a piece of poor driving.

Via Facebook the club have issued their own All Points Bulletin.

As they say: "It would seem that someone driving a red Mitsubishi or Hilux (all red colour coded) has just driven into the front step at the sailing club dislodged paving slabs and just drove off.

Graeme with his injuries

Instead of helping others Skye ambulance paramedic Graeme Deas found himself on the receiving end of medical attention.

Looking rather the worse for wear Graeme reported via social media: "Back home after big bike crash, not looking very nice, but have been very well looked after and face repaired by our fantastic NHS."

Pictured here are (left to right): Carol Cable, CEO for QNIS; Lesley MacDonald, Community Nurse (CN); Carol Urbanowicz (CN); Rhona Beaton (CN); Moira MacLeod (Community Psychiatric Nurse – CPN); Morag Redshaw (CPN); Susan Robinson – Public Health Nurse (Schools); and Kate Earnshaw, NHS Highland’s District Manager (Skye, Lochalsh and West Ross)


Six nurses on the Isle of Skye have been honoured with awards from the Queen’s Nursing Institute, Scotland for their long service and dedication to the local community.

On a visit to the island, Clare Cable, chief executive and nurse director of the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland (QNIS) took the opportunity to meet many of the community nurses who currently work here and to present QNIS Long Service Awards.

The long service awards are given by QNIS in recognition of Nursing and Midwifery Council registered nurses who have reached 21 years service in the community. The awards are for nurses who have worked in any nursing role in the community including: midwifery, health visiting, practice nursing, criminal justice nursing, occupational health nursing, community mental health nursing, district nursing, community psychiatric nursing, community hospital nursing.

Donnie winning the Trotternish Ridge race earlier this year


Skye ultra-runner Donnie Campbell has written himself into the record books.

The 32 year old, now based in Edinburgh, has broken an endurance record - a winter completion of Ramsay's Round by running and climbing 24 summits in less than 24 hours. In fact he took 23 hours and six minutes to complete the 56 mile (90km) challenge.

He is just the second person to finish the Round with 28,000ft (8,500m) of  ascent, in less than a day in winter conditions.

Mr Campbell said it was "by far one of the toughest things" he had ever done.

A new law which makes it illegal to smoke in a vehicle carrying anyone under 18 comes into force today ( Monday 5 December)

The legislation was passed unanimously by the Scottish Parliament last year. It was introduced to give extra protection for children and young people from the harm caused by second-hand smoke.

Anyone caught breaking the law will be committing an offence carrying a fine of up to £1,000.

Time waits for no man, woman or ferry and, although we have yet to wave 2016 goodbye, CalMac has now opened its popular photographic competition for its 2018 calendar.

But you’d better be quick – the contest closes on January 8 2017.

Calmac say: "It doesn’t matter whether you’re an islander, a business visitor or a tourist – it doesn’t matter whether you’re a professional or an amateur – the competition is open to all.


Dunvegan Castle are already looking to make changes to help cater for the expected high visitor numbers in 2017.

A planning application has been submitted to Highland Council for the erection of a replacement store room to the gable of the castle restaurant to cater for the increased needs of the facility .

Other plans put forward this week include:

A week-end clean up – clear up operation has helped further preserve Glendale’s dream to bring an historic building permanently back into use one more.

A working group was mustered by the Glendale Trust to take advantage of having access to a skip to clear out the old Borrodale School and the adjoining house and temporary structure. 

Prior to the working group entering the premises the community was given the opportunity to collect any personal items or items donated to the school that they wanted returned. A repair was made to the roof and the access and security of the site was ensured. 

Raasay School stage their annual Christmas show on Friday 9th December at 7pm in the Community Hall.

The story this year will be based on the Russian folk tale ‘Babushka’ but, as usual,it will have our own unique Raasay flavour! Please come along and enjoy an evening of entertainment provided by our own Raasay youngsters. Entry is free and will include a free raffle/prize draw and refreshments will be served after the show.

Key players in Skye's tourism future are to meet to discuss priorities for the island.

Organisations such as Destination Skye and Lochalsh, Highland Council, VistScotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, The Scottish Tourism Alliance and Business Gateway are all expected to be part of the gathering due to take place on Tuesday 13 December in Portree

The Food Standards Agency is advising that a recall has been issued for Dr. Oetker Regal Ice Ready Rolled Icing White because it contains undeclared nuts (almonds) which is not mentioned on the label.

This means the product is a possible health risk for anyone with an allergy to nuts (almonds).

A convoy system will be in operation for two weeks once improvement work begins on the A87 between Auchtertyre and Kirkton

The resurfacing works, costing £300,000, will see improvements to a 1.4km section of the A87, creating a smoother and safer journey for motorists.

Resurfacing is due to start on Thursday 8 December and will take up to two weeks to complete. The improvement works are scheduled to take place between 7am and 7pm each week day, with no works planned over the weekend.

NHS Highland says: "Do not come to Raigmore hospital to visit if you have, or live with someone who has, had any vomiting or diarrhoea within the previous 48 hours."

A medical ward has closed to new admissions and visitors are being asked to keep visiting to an absolute minimum while staff deal with several cases of diarrhoea and vomiting.

Ward 2A, which was closed to new admissions on Thursday evening (Dec 01 has six patients currently affected with symptoms, two patients have tested positive for norovirus.

Calendar creating kids from Kilmuir

Youngsters at Kilmuir Primary are hoping as many people as possible will make a date with them.

For the pupils at the school have come up with their very own calendar which they say will "blow you mind."

This is what the children have to say about their colourful creation: "Our calendars are unique because we have involved local people and local businesses too .

"Also we have unique views from the Trotternish area . We asked some local heroes to choose their favourite views/places from between  Floddigarry and Earlish . We have views that no other calendar has!

The annual Light Up the Highlands Christmas Carol event takes place on Monday 5th December at Kyle Lifeboat Station starting at 7pm.

Highland Hospice say: "Every year we invite our supporters to help us Light up the Highlands by sponsoring a light on one of 19 Hospice Christmas trees in communities across the region. You can dedicate your light to someone you have loved and lost, to a good friend or relative you can't be with at Christmas or simply in support of Highland Hospice.


Kyle of Lochalsh is now home to a new public access defibrillator, thanks to the fundraising efforts of local firefighters.

The crew raised £1500 which was donated to the Lucky2BeHere charity and part of that donation was used to buy the defibrillator.  Lucky2BeHere champion in Skye, Ross Cowie, met the crew this week and took receipt of their kind donation.  He is pictured above with Kyle Watch Manager, Donnie MacLean, and the defibrillator unit.  On the far left stands Group Manager, Fraser Nixon.

It will provide the community with instant access to potentially life-saving equipment and the unit has now been installed at the fire station in Kyle.

Preparations are underway for the latest counter in Skye and Lochalsh Running Club's Winter Series.

The Braes event takes place on Saturday 10 December and for those who want to know what it is like he's the club's description: "An undulating 4.5 mile road race over the lumps and bumps of Braes."


Motorists are being asked to plan ahead for traffic restrictions on a section of the A9 between Glen Garry and Kincraig. 
The ground investigations, part of the A9 Dualling programme, will begin on Thursday 8 December and are expected to take 16 weeks. The work will be stopped over the Christmas and New Year periods from 23 December to 9 January.

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