Following the talk in the morning by Liz there were changes of plans that Davie had to cope with due to the weather. We were planning to go north to Airor to discuss forest crofts. This was going to involve a boat trip and a land rover preceded by a steep walk up the back of Doune. The weather was very unpredictable and was swinging around from the south-west to the north and combined with a lowish tide and a 3/4 foot swell Andy decided that it was too uncomfortable for those who would not care for the hill climb.
Instead we had a very good short discussion about broadband and with Elgar’s help I now have a little more understanding of the issues and being told that there is a 100% take up in Knoydart is comforting. They are on the JANet, over from the Gaelic College and superior to what we intend to put in but out of sight to what we have. Although broadband is a done deal in Koydart Davie realised that it is an issue for most of the communities up and down the coast and there seems to be a lot of movement and growing awareness that problems can be solved.
Lunch and then it was off to Inverie.
One or two decided not to hike up the hill to the road but it was well worth the effort. Even although the weather was still pretty poor the views over to Eigg were awesome. Lots of memories around the whole trip. I used to come down here fishing on the Dauntless Star and the Golden Rule and Peter Jan, up Loch Hourn, Sandaig, Marianne’s Point and Armadale Bay, staying at Isle Oronsay and Barrisdale overnight. In fact the last time I was in Mallaig by boat was with a not very sober Ali Rua on the mooch for bait. Happy days, I think. Jumped into Tommy’s landrover and it was off over the top to the “town”, Tommy being the local Ranger as well as the postie gave us a really interesting chat about the recent history of the land, who owned it and what they did not do with it. The story that stuck was the one of Lord Brocket who was a Nazi sympathiser, so much so that he was at Hitler’s 50th birthday celebrations in 1939. Much to his dismay The House and Knoydart was requisitioned for the SOE, fore runner of the SAS and after the war the first thing the “Lady” did was dump all cutlery, crockery and even toilets in Loch Nevis as they were “defiled” by the servicemen. Then they went on to sack most of the staff, employ their own toadies, shepherds were warned they could be shot for red deer, kids kept off the beaches, all quite extra ordinary. Finally it came to a head when the Seven Men of Knoydart staked out 65 acres of inbye and 10,000 acres of hill land and settled in. They received huge popular support but poor legal advice and little political support. Although they ultimately failed Knoydart Foundation now exists for the people who live there. I used to think that The Clearances and the Land Raids were off time and not to be constantly brought up but I am now full of admiration for these people who stood up to the establishment and with everything to lose. The little tiff we had in Applecross last year has brought this home to me. Remembering how stressful it was and that was with secure tenancies and accommodation they must have been living in awful conditions, both emotionally and physically to stand up for their justice and basic human rights.
First stop was a lovely wee tea room with a coffee and cake and a couple of presentations about the Foundation’s past present and future finances followed by a forestry talk and this was very specific to the Raasay contingent.
They seemed very pleased with what the got from it and probably over the next couple of days may realise that they have even more than they thought…it is the way it works. Chatting quite a bit to Andy and really interesting to get a very down to earth view on what goes on, more on the way back and good to get the history of the buy out and how at the start it was controlled by agencies and not the people themselves, that came later.
After afternoon tea it was off down to The Old Forge, via the little shop where I bought a calendar that you can use any year…..smart and maybe one for Applecross.
This is Andy with the Islay/Colonsay contingency getting ready for a pint.
After a pint of orange and lemonade I went for a wander round the head of the Bay while the guys slipped a couple of pints in.Distant memory for me and not missed. Sun popped out for a little while and showed off the place in its majestic glory.
And there was a bit of local character thrown in.
7.00pm and we were loaded up in the vehicles and driven back to tea at Doune. On the way back down the hill into Doune even in the now gloomy weather the views out west were magnificent with a clear sight of Eigg.
On time tonight and prawns were promised….fresh and creel caught of course.