Life at the end of the road

June 21, 2011

The view from Sconser :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, stonework — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:20 pm

I had fully intended plonking away on here last night for an hour or two but got overtaken by events or was it fish, but more of that later. Monday was a bonny day and I must confess that not a great deal happened on my front. I got up had the usual three cups of strong black coffee and pottered down to work to greet the hoards of customers that usually await us on the first day of the week.

I must say that I’m starting to ‘warm’ to Sconser, now don’t get me wrong, I can think of far worse places but until recently all my memories of that little village midway between Broadford an Portree have been bad ones. Sconser has to be just about the windiest place on Skye, or at least that particular bit where the ferry terminal resides is. I’m not talking sustained wind or even strength, for I’m sure there are places that record higher gusts and longer periods of wind. However, for sheer ferocity of squalls that come out of nowhere and leave a trail of destruction in their wake nowhere comes close.

Smashed car windows on the car park there and vehicles peppered with stone chips on the western side was just a risk that one took when commuting to and from Raasay in the winter. Indeed the wiser traveller would keep an eye on the forecast and bring their car back home on the ferry rather than risk arriving there as a foot passenger and finding a very wet car full of glass in the morning 😦 Cars and caravans have been blown into the sea and onto the beach. My parents not very old Toyota hatchback was written off in the ferry queue there, when they released the tailgate catch from inside, then made the fatal mistake of opening the west facing (passenger) door. A gust of wind from nowhere swept through the car forcing the rear hatch open so violently that it broke the hydraulic struts and forced it over on it’s hinges. It hit the roof so hard that it put a dent in that twisted the car 😦 This on a day when the ferry was still running so it was not even particularly windy.

I have personally had many hairy experiences landing scallops and rowing out to my fishing boat moored in Loch Sligachan. The worst being went I fell into the sea as a sudden squall off the Cuilins blew my tender from under my feet as I climbed into the ‘Conqueror’, I failed to catch hold of the handrails in time and was very lucky to get back on board. A stronger ebb tide would have seen me heading for the green buoy at the mouth of the loch 😦 This was the moment in my life at around 45 years of age, and having already suffered two bends that I thought ‘I’m getting too old for this 5hit’ 🙂

A job on the ferry, several relatively storm free winters without the telephone kiosk blowing over or a car window getting smashed have however mellowed my feelings. Added to that are the many improvements, stone walls and community garden done by the locals, all of which have served to put Sconser several notches higher in my estimation 🙂


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Anyway, when we arrived on Monday, vehicles were not the only thing awaiting the ferry 🙂

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What must rank as the strangest thing that I’ve ever seen waiting at a bus stop, 29 diving cylinders removed from an overloaded van that had been followed up Drum na Cloich by a police car. Apparently the van was down to 20mph on the hill with its rear bumper just inches from the ground 🙂

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Another sight that made me smile was this poor Labrador wearing ‘the collar of shame’ 🙂 at least that’s what I used to call it when Molly had one on. I must say that the lab seemed much happier than Molly when she had hers on 🙂



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And for anyone that is interested here are the outline plans for improvements to the ferry terminal there,


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though I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for them 🙂

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This building may not look great on the plans but

sconser rubble wall

with a lead roof and natural stone walls I think it will be a fine match for the one on Raasay and beautiful to look at. OK, I don’t live in Sconser and won’t have to look at at it so perhaps I should keep my mouth shut 🙂

They didn’t do this when I was at school 😦

I may have had a pretty ordinary kind of day but not the P7s, the P7s being that fine bunch of lads that will be leaving Raasay primary next week for their new life at Portree High. For yesterday they went on a school trip to Rona


Map picture


For the first time in his seven years at school my boy walked to his class 🙂 OK, that was only because they were setting off from Arnish on the Brigadoon but at least it meant wifey got a lie in, well not really as she still had to feed the pigs.

Ross at Rona with P7 001

The Dude and his pall Lighting MacLennan only had to walk a few hundred yards down to the fish farm slip at Camasnagaul whilst the rest of the class, teachers and helpers had to drive eleven miles from the village.

 Ross at Rona with P7 002

They all got a lift out to the waiting Mitchell MkII by the crew before heading up to Rona and Big Harbour,

Ross at Rona with P7 005

my boy probably being the only one who did not have relatives that had either lived or worked there. In fact one young lad in the pictures great grandfather was the last person to be buried there!!

 Ross at Rona with P7 020

My good friend Bill Cowie the caretaker made a fine job of entertaining and educating them I’m sure.

Ross at Rona with P7 006

They went and visited the famous ‘Church Cave’ 

Ross at Rona with P7 015

They also visited Dry Harbour which was once the main settlement on Rona with its many ruins

Ross at Rona with P7 017

before returning south on the Brigadoon


Ross at Rona with P7 028  Ross at Rona with P7 029

and doing a spot of fishing 🙂

Needless to say, they had a great time and we had mackerel for dinner,

 200611 019

OK, it was only one and we shared it between four but it was the first of the season and very tasty 🙂



  1. I have just been told of your web site by James Hyndman and I find it very interesting.Im sure the P7’s really enjoyed ther trip.

    Comment by Tom McBriar — June 21, 2011 @ 10:20 pm

    • Good morning and welcome aboard Tom, we’re all gonna miss the P7s when they go to Portree 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — June 22, 2011 @ 6:27 am

  2. Entertaining & informative as ever Paul, keep it up. Just a quick question from your clam diving days, i know the Inner Sound is used a lot by the navy for testing submarines etc., did them being there ever affect your diving? for example did you have to avoid certain times/places for fear of having your insides turned to jelly by sonar? 😦

    Cheers, Rich.

    Comment by Rich — June 21, 2011 @ 11:03 pm

    • Now your getting me worried Rich 😦 there were never any restrictions on diving or at least he areas of the inner sound shallow enough to dive in, indeed I’ve often come across their cables on the sea bed, some of which have written on them ‘Call VHF channel 16,13,8, Hotel Sierra’ if lifted 🙂 no doubt a little message for the creel boats 🙂

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — June 22, 2011 @ 6:34 am

  3. nice to see the plans for the sconser harbor bldg. and to hear just how the weather works there.
    and, glad to see a pic of miss molly, even if it is an old one. that may be the saddest dog face i’ve ever seen.
    how is miss molly? have any of her dogeens come to visit again? are they looking more like their daddy once they’re big enough to grow beards and eyebrows?

    Comment by jeannette — June 22, 2011 @ 6:10 am

    • Good morning USA 🙂

      yes we quite often see deilas, not sure if that’s how you spell it but it’s pronounced jeelass and is Gaelic for faithful 🙂 He was the one I called Biff and wifey called Haggis 🙂 He looks nothing like Buster however. Charlie on the other hand who often visits is pure Buster’s face and body with Molly’s legs and colouring 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — June 22, 2011 @ 6:38 am

  4. Hi Paul, great posts as usual and Nice plans for the waiting room but a lead roof could be a problem. Down here in East Lothian and especially in Edinburgh on a daily basis lead is getting ripped off roofs and sold to scrapyards due to its high price.

    It’s bad enough the lead needing replaced however what also tends to happen is that its not immediately noticed due to it happening during the night and weekends. This results in the weather getting into the buildings, often schools and causing thousands of pounds of damage and disrupted schooling.

    Would a slate roof still fit in and be a good alternative?


    Comment by moss — June 22, 2011 @ 7:03 am

    • Morning Moss,

      this is Skye not Edinburgh, you could leave £5 notes on a washing line at Sconser and no one would lift them, OK they’d probably get blown away but they’d not get stolen 🙂

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — June 22, 2011 @ 7:16 am

  5. Lead on the roof of the terminal builidng on Raasay and Sconser has been highlighted to the Council as being attractive to theives – never underestimate the lengths some of the low life involved will go to make a bob or two. Rural areas are often seen as easy targets. Lots of out of the way preserved railway workshops being cleaned out of copper at the moment through some very elaborate break ins.

    Paul – who is your source for the Sconser drawings? The terminal building external appearance has changed so you are a scheme behind where this are at but the general layout isn’t far off what is likely to happen though.



    Comment by Alan — June 22, 2011 @ 9:01 am

    • Hi Alan,

      they’re drawings sent to the ferry some time ago for us to pass comment on, which we did. ie the doors being in the wrong place for unloading cargo and the fact that roller shutters would make more sense, in view of the likelihood of the frequent squalls ripping the others off.We also questioned the sanity of narrowing the exit to one lane, effectively barring traffic from turning left until cars have turned right creating a backlog on the slip. As far as theft goes I can see flashings off slate roofs being an easy target as they’re likely to go unnoticed but a whole roof from a well lit car park on a main road!!! Perhaps I’ve been living in the sticks too long 🙂 is it really that bad 😦

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — June 22, 2011 @ 3:18 pm

      • Hi Paul
        In your old stomping ground here in Lancashire, the local yoofs will go to rural railway lines and nick the copper signalling wire. The rural locations north of Winter Hill are targetted often, and time of the day is irrelevant to them. Causes chaos at rush hour getting home sometimes, well it did until they closed my railway line and I started driving in.

        It would be useful if they could have some showers in the new Sconser waiting room, an a 24 hour cafe. It would probably well used by all Cuillin climbers 😉 but somehow I cant see that happening!!

        Comment by Simon — June 22, 2011 @ 8:18 pm

  6. Hi, As a regular Sconser waiting room user I hope the new one will be accessible for the disabled, and that the bus stops and ferry will be visible from the waiting room. Not having heating in the new Raasay ferry waiting room is a very bad idea and I hope Sconser will not be similar. The ‘powers that be’ should experience being a foot passenger spending some hours at Sconser – not even a drink of water is available. On that note the removal of the hot/cold drink facility on the ferry was a major retrograde step – meals could be purchased on the Steamer which preceded the ferries although there was much breakage of MacBraynes crockery in the storms between Kyle and Portree…. Cheers..

    Comment by sotw — June 22, 2011 @ 8:14 pm

    • Hi She,

      yes I’ve found much of that broken crockery whilst diving 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — June 23, 2011 @ 10:44 pm

  7. Hi Paul … sometimes the most obvious places are the most vulnerable … would you believe that while I was on leave a couple of months back someone came into my (locked) office in a health centre in London and walked off with a printer still in its box … I hadn’t had time to unpack it before I went on leave and they just took the whole thing … on the other hand even in this so-called wicked city most people are incredibly honest so there’s always hope … and no I don’t think you’ve been in the sticks too long, I just think on a day to day basis you’re used to mixing with nice friendly people

    Comment by carina — June 22, 2011 @ 9:23 pm

  8. Paul – interesting comments from you and the other folk re design issues which I’m, afraid to say didn’t find their way back to the project team. What is interesting is the notion of a community cafe for the benefit of ferry passengers was tabled but few in Sconser seemed interested in running it. Maybe the Raasay community could pick this up?

    Cheers, Alan

    Comment by Alan — June 23, 2011 @ 8:47 am

    • Hi Alan,

      not listening to people ‘at the sharp end’ seems to be endemic, we’ve been trying to get lights in the right place on the Raasay pier for almost a year now 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — June 23, 2011 @ 10:47 pm

  9. Hi Paul, Its a torn ligament in knee and keeping him quiet and still is quite a challenge. Never known a dog to groan as much..

    Interesting commentf rom your previous reader . I don’t think some of the good folk from Sconser want lorries queueing up in the carpark for bacon butties and cuppa!!!!


    Comment by Angela Middleditch — June 23, 2011 @ 11:06 am

    • Hope the poor dog recovers soon Angela 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — June 23, 2011 @ 10:48 pm

  10. Hi Paul, The quarryman says he can just see you in a pinny serving up teas and coffees along with some mackerel burgers!!!!!

    Comment by Carole & Finnie — June 23, 2011 @ 4:14 pm

    • Hi Carole,

      he’s just after a bacon sandwich on the way to work 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — June 23, 2011 @ 10:53 pm

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