Life at the end of the road

May 1, 2011

Raasay’s red caves

Filed under: daily doings, hydro, stonework — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:31 pm

Probably as a result of a light air of north west wind during the afternoon it’s not been as hot today, though you wouldn’t have known it unless you looked at a thermometer. Indeed the early morning felt much warmer and was a fitting beginning to this, my favourite month, and I don’t say that because I’m a Taurus. May often rivals or even beats June for hours of sunshine on the west coast, the bracken has yet to get a grip and smother everything and the midge is still pretty thin on the ground. Add to that summer opening hours for everything, a brief lull in the tourists after Easter and no Italian campervans clogging up the roads and you have the perfect month.

It was a perfect day for painting the house but I’d three boys to amuse and a hydro turbine to repair, or at least it’s leaky penstock.


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The leak would be quite straight forward to fix by inserting a new length of pipe but I did need to make up a double ended female adapter. Luckily the 2” ‘Polypipe’ UPVC ducting fits inside the 63mm MDPE water pipe with a little persuasion or drop of boiling water.


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There was already spare pipe up at the high, and legend has it haunted loch so it was just a matter of a few tools and the solvent cement for the UPVC.

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It’s a bit of a trek up there but the first mile or so is by quad up the track towards Kyle Rona and the boys love it,

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so does Charlie, one of Molly’s pups who’s come to visit 🙂

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Once the pipe was repaired we left it for 15mins for the PVC cement to set before putting the pipe back in the loch. This normally dark and spooky loch was exceptionally clear today so I used the time to walk around and look for my mates railway sleeper 🙂


Map picture

Over forty years ago a good friend of mine who lived at Torran found a railway sleeper washed ashore at the Coul port (back port). Thinking that it would make a fine boat they dragged it almost a mile up to the loch which is steep and inaccessible to say the least. How long it took him and his pals I do not know but it must have been quite an effort, imagine the look on their faces when they got it up there and it sank 😦 Still, I’m sure it was a good lesson in physics for them and they’ll never forget now that sea water is more buoyant than fresh 🙂

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These pictures were taken yesterday whilst the Harris turbine was feeding from the lower loch on a 4mm nozzle, just over 14bar of dynamic head and 12amps at 28v (around 330w)

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Here it is today on the same nozzle producing 18amps (around 500w) at well over 16bar if that gauge is to be believed. As each bar equates to 9m of head then I make the altitude of the loch 144m above the turbine. At almost a kilometre of pipe that is a serious hydro scheme 🙂

And all that was before breakfast 🙂

The ‘red caves’

For the first few years that I lived on Raasay I spent little time at the south end and apart from the bi weekly visits of ‘Alan the post’ saw little of its inhabitants, my main contacts being with other fishermen from Portree who may well call things by different names. The cliffs of the east side south of Brochel I’ve always known as ‘The White Face’, Kyle Rona ‘The Blind Sound’ and the caves south of Manish point ‘The Red Caves’. They may well be known as something different locally but today I took the boys out in the boat to go and explore them.


Our first port of call being


Map picture

just here and you can still clearly see the long abandoned lazy beds of Manish Beg at the bottom centre of the map.

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Just south of the ‘pushpin’ is this wall,

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made from the stones thrown up by the sea it looks like it was used to drive stock towards the shore, perhaps to a waiting boat.

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East and right of that but clearly visible is a drain cut through the stones to let water away from the fertile land behind.

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Not that obvious in the picture but the old fields are clearly visible.

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After a spot of lunch we continued southwards to admire some of the natural arches that abound in the Torridonian sandstone here.

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This one having an old wall built within it.

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After that, and just a little further south is this magnificent sea cave, that had we been at half tide we could have sailed right through 🙂

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As it was we could only get the boat half way in before having to get out and walk.

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That was about it really, after exploring the cave we headed back home and I spent the rest of the day mowing the lawn and scraping paint off the roof 😦


  1. Those caves are spectacular! Are there old legends about their use? Smuggling?
    The rock formations and old stone walls are so interesting. Thanks for posting!

    Comment by Flora — May 2, 2011 @ 12:26 am

    • Morning Flora,

      fraid I know no stories or legends but I’ll ask 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — May 3, 2011 @ 6:11 am

  2. Great pics. Should be able to identify the caves using the list of names “Calum the Road” made of the Raasay coastline.
    The high cliffs south of Brochel were/are known in translation to English as The False Church due to their `cathedral` appearance. There is a pass around that area translated into English as The Pass of the Candle…could this have some special appearance?

    Comment by sotw — May 2, 2011 @ 7:45 am

    • Morning She,

      perhaps the ‘candle’ refers to that fact that one of those buttresses is actually detached from the cliff behind so looks like a candle, dunno which one it is right enough. A list of names would be fantastic to write down. There’s precious little info on the map. Hope to see you before the weather breaks 🙂 Which according to XC is Thursday 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — May 3, 2011 @ 6:16 am

  3. The caves are awesome! Shame they can only be reached by boat (well it would be really difficult to get to them overland, I’m sure). The kids up with you sure have an interesting time, beats sitting indoors playing electonic games or watching American r***ish on TV like most of the kids down here in the sowf!

    Comment by francesp — May 2, 2011 @ 6:07 pm

    • Morning Frances,

      yes me and the boys certainly have a good time.

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — May 3, 2011 @ 6:17 am

  4. I always look forward to reading this blog. Excellent photographs. Really helps me to keep in touch. Will be visiting the area again in August. Keep up the excellent work. R

    Comment by Richard Clark — May 2, 2011 @ 8:55 pm

    • Hi Richard,

      glad your enjoying the blog, I’ll do my best to keep it up, was worn out last night, didn’t get in till after 21:00 and went to bed shortly afterward 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — May 3, 2011 @ 6:21 am

  5. it must be wonderful to know an island so well. thank you for this, it reminds of tim robinson’s circumnavigation (on foot) of aran. recommended!

    Comment by jeannette — May 2, 2011 @ 10:08 pm

  6. Hi Paul

    Have you seen any of the fires in Kintail on your travels. There are some pretty spectacular pictures from Torridon here…

    Comment by Simon — May 3, 2011 @ 12:02 pm

  7. Hi Paul

    It was good to see you (very briefly!) yesterday. We had a wonderful afternoon walking to Fladda. Hope you made the ferry in time.

    As always, great pics.

    All the best

    Comment by yestosh — May 3, 2011 @ 4:07 pm

    • Morning Callum,

      yes we made the ferry OK thanks, sorry it was such a short chat, hope to see you again but not at another funeral 🙂

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — May 4, 2011 @ 5:10 am

  8. Hi Paul
    Been having a problem with trying to post a comment

    Comment by politescouser — May 3, 2011 @ 10:15 pm

    • I think I’ve worked out why.

      It looks that now your broad band connection has improved your output has more content to each blog this makes the reading more informative.
      Great reading.

      Comment by politescouser — May 3, 2011 @ 10:22 pm

      • Good morning Walter,

        yes the new Hylas satellite has certainly made posting links and pictures easier, thou it still has its moments 😦 The thing that never fails to amaze me is how good some of my pictures are 🙂 Not bragging or anything, it’s just that before migrating to Hylas 1 they used ‘compression’ on the images so I’ve been looking at fuzzy ones for years 🙂

        Thanks, Paul

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — May 4, 2011 @ 5:14 am

  9. Hi Paul, Martin Martin says that people lived on the shore with their animals in summer (16th century) maybe the Manish caves? The rock you saw from the Waverley is the Eaglais Breige – false church.

    Comment by Anne Macdonald — May 4, 2011 @ 8:16 pm

    • Good morning Anne,

      yes that would make sense and explain the walls under the natural arch, I really must read more books on Raasay 🙂

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — May 5, 2011 @ 5:10 am

  10. I so enjoyed your wonderful tour of the caves! So informative, I’m learning more about Raasay all the time through your blog. The north end of the island is such a special place. Thank you for taking the trouble to post so frequently, you must be so busy!

    Comment by Carolyn — May 5, 2011 @ 10:45 am

    • Good morning Carolyn,

      glad you’re still here, it’s not being busy that’s the problem it’s being tired 🙂 Will have to do more exploring down that particular part of Raasay.

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — May 6, 2011 @ 5:16 am

  11. I love your blog and have made it my ‘home page’. Raasay is the most beautiful place in the world and I love seeing the pictures and hearing about Arnish. I only had the joy of visiting Arnish a couple of times when I was little. Charlie MacLeod (now Portree) is a cousin of my late mother’s and I used to visit his mother when they lived at Arnish. I used to love being there. Keep up the good work and bless you for being so faithful at filling in your blog. It does wonders for those of us who live in exile!

    Comment by Joan-A MacLennan — May 5, 2011 @ 2:57 pm

    • Good morning Joan,

      flattered that LATEOTTR is your home page, surely you must have visited my house on your trips to Arnish ?

      Many thanks, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — May 6, 2011 @ 5:13 am

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