A view on Fishing,Community and Life on the NW coast of Scotland

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Gone Fishing with Fergus

So the morning half three start under the belt and through in Inverness still in the dark, only able to imagine the colours rather than see them. The train journey did not feel long as I slept most of the way. As we got into Edinburgh at ten I had a bit of time before the meeting. It was put back a couple of hours but after I had booked the train tickets. The wander down The Royal Mile was very pleasant in the autumn sun. Checked out the Parliament, wandered past the Indy Camp and over to Salisbury Crags. Heard in the passing that the response from the Camp after losing their court case was to park another car by the caravans. The climb up the hill was stunning and Edinburgh was resplendent in the autumn sun. Looking across to the castle,

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seeing the old alongside the new, so different from back home.

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The old and new side by side, in fact more them and us. Holyrood Palace just across from Holyrood Parliament. One lodged in the past and the other looking to the future.

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The Crags were lit up looking through the courtyard of Murray House.

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Time flew by and made for the cafe where over time the others came in. Just thinking that we had a good spread of knowledge from the east coast, west coast, diving and creeling, buying and legal were all round the table. Civil service joined us and off we went up a maze of stairs to a meeting room where we met with Fergus Ewing. This was our first meeting since he had taken over the brief from Richard Lochhead. The brief has been split and Fergus has rural affairs and connectivity. I had a good feeling about his reaction to what we had to say. He appeared to take on board our common sense views. Bob Younger gave a background summing up of how we have arrived at today’s position, citing the Cameron commission through to the Inshore Fisheries Act of 1984 and its detrimental effect of  today’s harvest. Some interesting facts emerged that show how skewed the position is when it was pointed out that ground available to trawling constituted 96.3% of the total worked, this was an east coast statistic. Basically shows that the static gear industry is doing a pretty amazing job with such a little share of the resource, not only to survive but in many cases are thriving. And still the crab gear was being towed away to the tune of tens of thousands of pounds. How much ground does the mobile sector need to operate at profit? We also pointed out that the static gear sector needs so little of the resource compared to the mobile sector as we receive so much more for our catch, landed in better condition all live with little or no discards. On the west it has been a relatively profitable summer in both sectors. Although unscientific, I would suggest that this is connected to less effort, certainly in our area. The drastic diminishing of the inshore trawl fleets from Mallaig to Ullapool must be having an effect. Also having 3/4,000 creels less north of the Crowlins.

We all managed to say our piece and it did seem well received and two suggestions were taken on board. The first was that towing away static gear was to become a criminal offence and a pilot scheme for spatial separation was back on the table. One could see the civil servant beside Fergus was becoming quite agitated recognising how the mobile sector is going to react to these proposals. I could see Fergus was reacting in such a way that customers do when they are told a few observations on the fishery and why they have so enjoyed such a good meal of creel caught langoustine. He was told about the filmed recovery in the Wester Ross MPA after only a year. Valuable breeding grounds being left alone to allow regeneration to continue both in and outside the area. But realistically politics enter a common sense argument and his next fishing event will be the SFF Annual dinner where the picture painted will be with many different colours. I managed to get my Norwegian anecdote at the end. To relate it again, kayaking in the Lofotens, I was speaking to a fisherman helping his partner run their campsite during the tourist season. We talked fishing, prospects, conservation and the likes. I mentioned that you can trawl up to the Scottish shore and I will never forget the look he gave me. He just lost interest in the conversation and you could tell he thought what an idiotic way to manage such a valuable resource. So the meeting ended on a positive note and renewed hope mixed with the usual realism.

Back up the road/rail and home by ten. Time enough for a mug of tea at the Inn and believe it or not a game of poker with a couple of ciders at 6/7 and yet another goodbye. No intention of fishing on Wednesday so no pressure going to my kip at 1.30am very, very tired.

There is Peace if you know where to look.

In a hectic spell after the languor of earlier in the week when the weather was contrary. Part of the rushing about involved getting on the eBike and taking Dougal and Eilidh south for a run as they were going to be inside for most of the day. There is stillness despite being time constrained.

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Actually as it turned out they were back on the same road around 4pm having another run followed by tea(for them). Amongst all the rushing around there are moments of pure tranquility when you just sit on a rock and look west.

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Applecross Community Company Calendar 2017

Ahead of the game with 2017 calendars for sale at the Applecross Inn. A choice of two this year, the second slim line one showing the wide and varied natural life around the peninsula.

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Already selling nice and steady. All profits are going to the Applecross Community Company. Appreciate all the sales, and shares and tweets about the Company. Against many odds it is a good news story. We are coming up to our AGM and we need new directors to continue the story. We are operating against a background of fairly big demographic changes and something will have to happen soon regarding the politics of access to land or all the good work of the Company will be for nought. Here is a couple of sample months in the new calendar

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showing the seasonal variations we experience.

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Applecross Community Company Calendar 2016.

Sales are going well and coming to the time of year in deciding how many to order from the printer, Stewart Wright from Edinburgh, who gives us a good deal as all profits go to the Community.

September

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October

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A’Chomraich.

Not many lambs appear in Applecross in December but crofting is changing over here

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and I met the first of the new season. Just a quick snap shot as there were a couple of interested spectators and the wee one was wanting fed. A survivor of triplets. Turned up at the shop just before opening to drop in some calendars and pick up some dog food for our two. Then it was feeding the birds

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and the bees

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before heading out on the bike. Sort had an idea that it would be a long walk for Dougal and Eilidh by nipping up to the snow line on the Bealach. The nice thing about cycling up the road in Applecross you stop for chats on the way with drivers and dog walkers or who ever. Also there are those who keep a wary eye on you.

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Was told the snow line was not that low here on the west coast, about 350 metres. So with no real aim to get to a certain height I just plodded on stopping and admiring where I live.

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Another stop was at the bridge past the Snowblower Shed, except we have no snowblower now. There is a story here and I will have it soon for you, too vague to repeat just now. Allt Beag was a good stop off point for a drink.

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He’s mad but lovely. The breeze was bitter and slowly increasing from the south-west. Had thought about going to sea but the forecast was 6 to 8 north-west going 6 to 8 south-west and did not think it worth the effort. So it was the Bealach as opposed to the Sound.

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Possibly due to being stuck inside for the last couple of days the senses were in good shape to take in some awesome scenery.

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Despite the lack of sunshine there  was a clarity to everything. Dougal and Eilidh enjoyed the run although I think that will be it for a couple of days for them. Stags and lots of snuffling around in the snow,

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crossing streams and just having a sniff.

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Made it up to the hairpin and decided that dogs and legs had enough.

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The battery was still live when I arrived back home but is straight on charge as an earlier start at the Inn this afternoon has been requested.

Now it is 1.30am and back down from the Inn. Long slow cycle home in the teeth of a strong south-westerly but head full of a pleasant night at the Inn. Lots of regulars in and homely atmosphere, fire on, good food and then onto the malts, and a fair few were consumed. Lots of reminiscing, problem solving and a deep discussion on Applecross or should say A’Chomraich, a Sanctuary for many who stop and listen.

A Ceilidh Day

Another couple of days, beautiful weather and indifferent fishing. At sea yesterday coupled with a shift at the Inn. Cannot stop taking snaps of Ardhu in this weather,

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so well situated below the Cuillin, despite The Inner Sound between them. Fairly intense schedule with everyone away it is just the dogs and me so spending so much time at the Inn and/or at sea they take priority when I come in. They do seem relatively settled and just lie around when I am out. Am assuming that as there is no destruction when I return. As soon as I come back from landing the prawns at the Inn it is straight down the road with them to the top of Criag Darroch and a wee seat overlooking the moorings.

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Good for me as much as them as it is just a bit of time out before tucking into the tea, washing etc.

Today has been one of these time outs, partly due to a bad headache when curtailed the enjoyment of last night’s shift. Was in a spot of trouble by the end of it and made it home slowly on the bike doped up with painkillers and after letting the dogs out a doze on the couch helped things as it was reduced to just a headache by twelve. When I say letting the dogs out that meant two as the east wind had blown the back door open and Dougal headed off for a jaunt. He has been good lately but this time I did not worry about him too much and sure enough he was there at 7.00am sitting across the road despite the gate being left open for him.

Yesterday was a routine day with a stunning morning

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to start work in

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and it was over the Pier to fuel up and sort some diesel for the Inn’s Generator, and take bait on board. Sometimes I think I could do with a crewman, have a cleaner and slightly less chaotic boat although everything gets put in its place by the time I arrive at my first fleet.

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Passed the Grace Anne hauling crab pots at the back of St Island with her shaky crewman. Seems the result of a couple of glasses of wine with Son No1 last night. The calm day will help.

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The evening light show was wonderful,

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the result of a front coming in from the west and the excuse for not going fishing today.

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Kept the last fleet on board for a change round tomorrow morning. Only a couple of fleets like this and it will be a pain to remove, but we are back onto the “German writing” worm. The pressure washer does not remove them and they have to bashed off……time consuming.

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Back to today and down the road early for the prawn landing. Nice few minutes on my own with a heron and a couple of gulls. Did not have the camera unfortunately as the heron is notoriously shy. But sitting on a rock looking west waiting for the Boss it was peaceful and for a couple of minutes of solitude all is well. Wee ceilidh with the Boss before head back to the house to complete recovery. Only other thing of note and this made my day, the ceilidh continued. I headed off down to the shop, Mainly for a WHFP, which had not arrived incidentally. Before setting off, Margaret was at the door and for something that took 5 mins ended up chatting for 20. On the way to the shop and stopped for a chat with Ali, who mentioned about Dan being taken off the Hill a couple of days ago by helicopter to Raigmore while out helping with a stalk. So armed with a packet of biscuits I called in to see Dan, an excrewman, turns out it was a condition that he has had all his life. Simply put it is a short-circuit of his heart that doubles his heart rate and if he tries to work through it causes him a few problems. Normally he shuts down to get it back into sinc. As there was a stag to load and ponies about the shut down stage never took place so company got worried and called in the chopper which already had a causality from Torridon on board. Dan was more embarrassed than ill so all ended well. But another wee ceilidh ensued. Makes you realise just stopping for a chat means so much and we just do not make time for it these days…..too rapped up in being busy and there is so much to talk about. Now back to busy which means the evening shift is beginning soon.

Saint Island

Quick photo post from Son No3 who went to St Island by kayak yesterday.Passing the Street and coming up to Milton. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Lovely sunny day but before that I missed a photo out when I was talking about the lilac tree and here it is, Margaret with some of the Flensburg guys when they went down to do a little spinning at Camusterrach when they were here in February. 10148528_10152371691548530_381425657_o 10148596_10152371684308530_1085609131_o At this time of year the gulls are hatching their chicks and the date is passed when the men used to go and pick up eggs for themselves. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Eggs now being to far gone in the growing stage. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I think I remember being told that the 22nd of May was the last day that they would pick up the eggs. Gulls dive bomb any one ashore on the island to protect their eggs. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Michelle coming in in the distance. The island was supposed to be the first landing point when Maelruabh came ashore in the seventh century. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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