It was with more than a little excitement that I set off down ‘Calum’s road’ today, the weather was good, I was picking up the Dude and we were going to the old ‘Howard Doris’ yard at Kishorn. The Dude had been at my parents for a few days and I was missing him but today we were going to see where the blocks for the new Raasay harbour were being cast. I’d spent the best part of a summer there in 1986 or 87 as the place was being wound up and stuff being auctioned off. My employer at the time had bought 3 large corrugated iron sheds (2 of them the size of aircraft hangers) and I was involved in the dismantling and moving of them. When I was there the place still had a couple of oil rigs berthed there and there was still some fabrication work being done but nothing like when it was in it’s heyday and they built the ‘Ninian Central’ concrete platform there. The site was chosen for it’s very deep water close to the shore and whilst remote by most peoples standards it was still relitively accsessable by road, rail, sea and air. It really was a site to behold under the massive mountains of the Applecross peninsula.
Even before I reached the ferry I’d been treated to a group of hinds just at the side of the road past Brochel ( of which I have a lovely photo that won’t load ) and this buzzard perched on a fence post at Inver.
Caught the 9:00am ferry and met the Dude on the way and we had a pleasant drive up the side of Loch Carron and over the hills to Loch Kishorn, all familiar roads from my fish farm diving days but routes I’ve not traveled in years.
Looking west towards the site, you can just make out the masts of yachts at ‘Kishorn mechanical services’ which is at the eastern end of the old site.
This is the truly massive dry dock which was hewn out of the rock, the concrete wall splits in two and could be pumped dry of ballast and floated out of the way. The white buildings and the red ship are ‘Ferguson transports’ and that’s pretty much at the eastern end of the site, the dry dock is probably about half way down the site.
On the dry dock gate looking north, when I was last here there were buildings, lighting towers, cranes and vehicles everywhere. There was something like an airport control tower somewhere near here, all glass and radio aerials if I recall correctly.
Looking west over ‘Leiths’ site ( the quarry owners ) towards ‘Balfour Beatty’s’ site (the blue cabins) which is pretty much at the western end of the old fabrication yard.
These are the ‘casting beds’ upon which the moulds will sit when the concrete is poured ( i think)
The blue and grey things are the clamps for the shuttering ( I think )
This is a load of shuttering ( I think )
All in all it was a very enjoyable and informative couple of hours. A big thank you to Iain Macphearson of Balfour Beatty for arranging my visit to Dave Meechan for taking the time to explain everything even if I got it wrong it all made perfect sense at the time and if I’ve spelt your name wrong Dave I’m sorry ( I’ll edit it later ) and last but not least a big thanks to ‘Tarzan’ of Leiths for Escorting us I’m sure you had better things to do and thanks for letting the Dude have a look at your ‘wee shovel’
What struck me about today was how quickly nature recovers, if you’d been here 20 years ago you wouldn’t have believed how quickly mans puny efforts had been swallowed up. Me I love wildlife and nature and all things natural, that’s why I live where I do. I’m sure there must have been objections to opening a quarry here, but it strikes me that the land needs a little less love and a lot more use. I’ve seen more otters, golden eagles, bats and sea eagles than most people and can assure you they aren’t stupid and won’t fly into a wind turbine or get squashed by a digger and as my mate ‘Tarzan’ said “have you ever seen a quarry with a view like this” 20 years after the last stone has been taken you won’t even know where it’s been and what’s 20 years? ‘a blink in the eye of god’ as some wise sage said!
A couple of great film clips here in the Scottish film archive
Many thanks to Chris Humphrey for turning up these gems
and to Kenny Millar for forwarding these.