Life at the end of the road

July 15, 2010

Serious hardware

Filed under: boats, daily doings, wind turbine — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:14 pm

I never thought when I started writing this blog that there would be so much going on to write about. In fact I thought once Raasay house and the harbour were finished I’d have to give up through lack of materiel, well Raasay house sadly burnt down and the harbour has given me an extra 15 months of input. Raasay house may still be a year or so from opening but the harbour is almost finished, OK the big ‘Gala Day’ to officially open the facility might actually be before the Loch Striven is safely berthed there but we are still looking forward to it nonetheless. And just as all this activity on the harbour front is drawing to a close the Forestry Commission are about to start some serious harvesting up the ‘Glen road’, or at least they’ve contracted someone to do it.


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Anyway, today, Thursday has been pure miserable, cold, dreich and with a good breeze of north wind that pushed a big lazy swell through the Raasay narrows.

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It was a busy day traffic wise but we took advantage of the big tide to give the old tub a good scrubbing with ‘Scalex’ (a rust remover) at Sconser, something we will also be able to do on Raasay once the ferry terminal is finished.

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Not only was it busy on the ferry but it was busy in the waters around the ferry and unusually both the Ronja Commander and Ronja Pioneer put in an appearance, the Commander going to the Braes fish farm and the Pioneer to the one at the Moll.

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Craig’s big truck with its long empty ‘low loader’ arrived at around 10:25, it was supposed to have a ‘Tigercat LH845C’ on the back but the pair of them weighed in at 50 tons, about 5 tons above what we can carry 😦

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So the harvester came to Raasay on board the ex military landing craft Eilean a Mhaull or at least I think that’s how you spell it 🙂 and yes that is the man formally known as ‘Grumpy Digger Driver’ practicing his traditional greeting 🙂

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And if you want to know just how this mighty machine cuts down trees then just check this out,


I can’t wait to see this for real 🙂

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The big harvester wasn’t the only serious piece of kit we saw today, three wind turbine blades sailed past us at Sconser with a Police escort.


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That was about it really, the mainly miserable day brightened just a little and dried up around 18:00 and I drove home an hour later.

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Driving past a pile of blocks destined for the latest new house on Raasay that were gradually being moved by a fork lift i could not help but think how different it all was from ‘Sulag’s’ house building of almost a century ago 🙂

What a place to build a house

Filed under: daily doings, stonework — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 6:41 am

The evening was not quite as calm and blue as the day yesterday, but it was nevertheless a grand evening for a jaunt back around the east coast of Raasay to the settlement of Kyle Rona. This time however we would be minus the crewman with an allergy to walking in the hope of getting a look at the famous ruin. So after downing the spaghetti bolognaise, filling a can with petrol and dowsing ourselves with ‘Avon Skin So Soft’ we jumped on the quads and motored down to the shore at Port Arnish.

The wee Pioner Maxi was waiting patiently on the shore having floated in with the incoming tide from where I’d left her dangling 6 hours earlier. Twenty minutes later we were around the north of Raasay and below the settlement of Doire Dubh (black hollow) near Kyle Rona.


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In my many years of clam diving around Raasay this is as much as I’ve seen,

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or this much through the binoculars 🙂


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This evening however we were going to see the real thing


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and here it is on Bing, you can clearly see the rear of the house and the window in the middle.

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It was quite a trek through the 5’ tall bracken up to Alistair Gillies house from the shore and whilst in his day the bracken would not have been there imagine what it would have been like carrying these stones up from a small boat. For many of these beautifully dressed rocks are not native to Raasay or at least this part of Raasay. This hardy fellow would bring stones from as far afield as Applecross on the mainland some 6 or 7 miles away and those light coloured stones around the door way look like white sandstone from south of Brochel.

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Here is the view from the front door looking over towards Plockton on the mainland with the Crowlin Islands just visible, not a great picture but on the left you can see how he’s carved the stones to fit the wooden door jamb. What you cannot see is the 12’ drop only 2 or 3’ away from the door!!!!! Many people have speculated at why he chose to build this house in such an inaccessible location but I think at that time, and I’m guessing he started it just before WW1 every inch of arable land was precious and needed by the impoverished people to grow crops on just to survive.

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The rear of the house is by far the most intact and of a more traditional style of masonry but nevertheless it is still of the highest of quality.

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Rumour has it that it took him eighteen years to build this house and he never lived in it, I don’t know but I’m guessing that he moved south during the 1920s when crofts became available at Oscaig and Eyre after the famous Raasay ‘land raids’ much of which has been written about here and elsewhere.

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We took one last look around the many ruins, one of which the late John Cumming would have been born in in 1915 and whilst John passed way only last year he is survived by three sisters who may well have been brought into this world here also. That done we departed  this once busy but isolated corner of Raasay, heading back home via the Eilean Tigh narrows.


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And now it’s 6:30am and I must go to work 😦

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