Life at the end of the road

March 7, 2011

Bitten by the ‘hydro bug’

Filed under: daily doings, hydro, life off grid, shed/house, stonework — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:05 pm

Well that’s my last full day of the ‘week off’ over with and I don’t actually seem to have done a great deal, or at least I don’t seem to have achieved or done anything physical. I have however done an awful lot of thinking, scheming, calculating and measuring. The £100 ‘Old Girl’ tank full is just around the corner, the heating and generator oil tank is pretty low and oil is only going to go one way 😦 My 25 year old bucket may only do 25mpg but I refuse to buy anything newer or more economical, with over 200,000 miles on the clock she’s never been more than 600miles from where she was built out of mainly UK sourced components. She may use twice the amount of fuel as a ‘eurobox’ but most 1986 cars have been to China and back twice now as lumps of scrap so I consider my ‘oil burner’ greener than most. After all as one sage person recently pointed out to me “Land Rover have been putting oil back in the ground for 60 years and you can’t get greener than that” OK, it’s dirty oil and mainly on the road and in driveways but it did make me laugh 🙂

So not being able to do much about the Landy’s oil consumption I’m concentrating on the house and that means more renewables to replace the oil we burn during those dry and calm spells. Solar PV or even solar hot water would help and will certainly be on the cards for the new house but for now it has to be more wind or more hydro. I have been toying with the idea of another wind turbine that would be more efficient at lower speeds but then I’d need to brake or lower it during the gales. I’ve still not ruled that out but for now it’s got to be more hydro.

To this end I’ve spent the last few days investigating two options, either to get more water into my system and up the power of the current Stream Engine or to find another site to put an extra turbine. I’ve found several possibilities for piping small amounts of water into my existing turbine, one up at North Arnish and another next to the shed site.


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I even have the 32mm pipe suitable for doing the relatively low flows available and whilst this will undoubtedly help with reducing generator hours it’s not going to give me much heat 😦

What I need is a loch like my mate uses for his hydro at Torran, a nice big, wet deep battery that will spew out a couple of litres a second 24/7 and give me around 20Kwh a day to run UFH.

 Loch Beag

Here it is, Loch Beag, OK, it’s about a mile away and pretty inaccessible or at least I thought it was until today when Molly and I went to check it out 🙂 Of course I’ve been there before but always walking in via the cattle grid at Brochel.


Map picture


I even had a boat mooring for a short while at the spot at the top of the map which I believe was a traditional place to keep a boat but the walk in was a nightmare so I only used it when storms were forecast.

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Here it is at 80m above sea level,

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and judging by the cormorant it must have fish in it 🙂 I could have got the quad much nearer but didn’t want to risk hurting my passenger the ‘wee dug’ who was still a little tender.

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Walking down towards the shore to pace out the length of pipe required we took a slight detour at the 420m mark to go and admire the old wall that used to mark the boundary between Arnish and North Raasay.

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It must have been built by the folk of Arnish for it is far neater on the north facing side 🙂

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There’s a place for a gate just before it ends in a precipitous cliff 😦


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We paced it out at around 500m to a suitable place to put a turbine, about 10m above sea level and far enough to be out of the salt spray, giving a head of some 70m 🙂

type 23

Whilst up there I spotted this type 23 frigate  but she was too far away to get an ID, the backbone of the Royal Navy’s surface fleet they are probably the last good looking ships to be built. You can hardly call the new Daring class type 45s pleasing on the eye.


The top one is the 45 and the bottom the 23, it may well be very capable but it sure is ugly, I have seen the Daring on the Clyde and it looks even worse in real life 😦 image lifted from 

All this took me nicely up until lunchtime for which I warmed up the cockaleekie soup that wifey had made yesterday from the recently deceased cockerel.

  070311 018 070311 019 070311 020

Once refreshed we went over to the back of the croft to reconnect my neighbours water supply that I’d disconnected to measure the flow.


Passing three stags on the way, one of who was very reluctant to get out of my neighbours garden 😦

Whilst eating my lunch I’d been studying the map an satellite image and though that I could see a quad route from the top of the ‘Diversion’. The Diversion is the only bit of the original ‘Calum’s road’ that is left, when the council adopted and surfaced the road they took a different route here.

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Not very obvious from the picture but the drains either side of the 9’ wide road are still doing a fine job 30 years on 🙂

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Without the ‘wee dug’ I managed to get the quad everywhere that mattered and saw some fine views that I’d not seen in a good few years 🙂

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Like the sheep fank at Tarbert from this angle 🙂

weather 070311

I did do more, I cleaned out my water tanks and the pigs but it’s almost 22:00 and time for bed so now we do at last have some wind I’ll leave you with it 🙂

graph 070311



  1. Paul
    2 totally unrelated things for you. Re your heating of water i would suggest reading given your diy skills this and other projects for pleantly of hot water. 2nd re site of your new house, this could be a bit bit off the wall for some people but would you consider getting your site tested for geopathic stress lines prior to building. I built 6 yrs ago and 2 yrs ago my son (18mth)got leukemia (AML) all well now but “co-incedidently” he was sleeping on a geo pathic stress line up till he got sick. Turns out I have 3 lines running through my 1 acre site. Testing is done by a diviner/dowser. sorry if its a bit a mad idea for you but no point in it being a big secret. Thanks Willie

    Comment by William Mc Mahon — March 7, 2011 @ 10:24 pm

    • Morning William,

      fantastic link, especially the plans for the heat bank which I’ve been mulling over for some while. Re the survey, I am one of life’s great ostriches 🙂 I refuse to get my water tested as I know that it would come back full of bugs and bacteria with a label on saying DO NOT DRINK. I refuse to get me site surveyed for Radon as I’m sure I’d then be told to build a lead barrier under the house 🙂 and I’m still using aluminium pans despite have a memory like a hen 🙂

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 8, 2011 @ 6:33 am

  2. Have you looked into heat pumps? I’m not sure how suitable they are in your situation but you’ve got the land and they’re supposed to be good with underfloor heating.

    And never get rid of the “Old Girl”, in another 50,000 miles you’ll have made it to the moon.

    Comment by Tony Giles — March 8, 2011 @ 1:09 pm

    • Morning Tony,

      I did consider GSHP and ASHP, not really convinced about ‘air source’ though, as for ‘ground source’, I’d have done it if I’d been staying in my present house as there’s acres of soft ground to bury pipes. The new site however is pretty much on solid rock 😦

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 9, 2011 @ 6:03 am

  3. How about a couple of these down on the Farm Paul.

    Comment by Yorkshire Miner — March 8, 2011 @ 1:38 pm

    • Morning Dave,

      a hairy pig 🙂 what next 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 9, 2011 @ 6:04 am

  4. Hi Paul.
    The Frigate was F236 HMS Montrose. I watched it pass Braes on Skye. I am the chap who spotted your incorrect navigation lights a few months ago!. Sadly my fourth winter on Skye is coming to an end but I will be back late autumn. I am usually to be found on the Aird, directly opposite the new pier and you may even have seen me out in all weathers in my camo jacket!!.
    Keep up the great work. Best Regards,

    Comment by PERRY DARK — March 8, 2011 @ 2:59 pm

    • Morning Perry,

      HMS Montrose hey, cheers for that and hope to see you next year, pretty white here today, better wear the ‘winter camo’ 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 9, 2011 @ 6:06 am

  5. The type 45 is not meant to be pleasing on the eye, it’s meant to have a reduced RADAR cross sectional area which is why it’s all truncated triangles! That and assorted electronic counter measures make it harder for a missile to know where the centre of the ship is. A missile might still hit you but if it can’t find the centre of the target it might hit an area where damage is more survivable.

    As for geopathic stress lines. We had one of those under the house. It caused no end of problems and caused all the unicorns in the neighbourhood to congregate by it. I got rid of it by reversing the phase of the neutron flux in the interstitial time displacement condenser in the garage. Now no geopathic stress and no unicorns.

    Comment by Andy — March 8, 2011 @ 8:05 pm

    • Morning Andy,

      if it’s got such a poor radar signature perhaps the could paint it in some nicer colours 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 9, 2011 @ 6:08 am

  6. Hi Paul
    Gremlins struck again. Could we have an idiopathic geopathic line under the house?!
    – Maybe make Thursday pm. Hope the weather is not too bad. Its cold and wet here.

    Comment by sotw — March 8, 2011 @ 8:28 pm

    • Weather is BOODLY awful She 😦

      wind pretty much gale force, house covered in the white stuff and snow reported drifting at Glam, better set off for work early and take the shovel 😦

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 9, 2011 @ 6:11 am

  7. That’s a coincidence, Mrs NK made cock a leekie soup yesterday for the first time here on Flores. Not from home strngled cock, I have to admit but good all the same …

    Comment by Neil King — March 9, 2011 @ 1:49 am

    • Good morning Neil,

      good to have you back, was kinda thinking you’d got the hump with me over some disparaging remark I’d made about lawyers 🙂 Can you remember the name of the company that owns the Nitrox ??? I tried googling but just kept coming up with the diving gas Nitrox.

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 9, 2011 @ 6:15 am

      • Don’t know who owns the Nitrox, paul and couldn’t find it by googling either.

        BTW my fave lawyer joke is:-

        Q. What do lawyers and swans have in common?

        A. They can both stick their bills up their a*ses

        Comment by Neil King — March 9, 2011 @ 10:15 am

      • Morning Neil,

        bills up ar53 hey 🙂 will have to try and work that one into the blog 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 10, 2011 @ 5:51 am

  8. that stonework really is something else. great to see it.

    Comment by jeannette — March 10, 2011 @ 12:54 am

    • Morning Jeannette,

      they are both epic feats of construction hey, Calum’s road and that dry stone dyke.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 10, 2011 @ 6:14 am

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