Life at the end of the road

July 19, 2011

Pretty good, considering :-)

Filed under: daily doings, hydro — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:09 pm

Well it’s 21:30 and I’m still not in my bed, so that has to be some kind of achievement, I’m pretty whacked right enough but at least I’m awake 🙂 Not only that but my ‘wakedness’  is not due to the unlikely scenario of me actually ‘taking it easy’, far from it. For despite the shaky start to the day I, or should I say we, have got much done. Nothing that I’d actually planned to do but plenty all the same.

Little got done before 10:30, except feeding the pigs,

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though it was so miserable that not even the ‘wee dug’ came to help. I spent a little while watching the miserableness (yes I know there’s no such word) before going indoors not to do the VAT return 🙂 Wifey gave me a haircut instead, something that I never sit still long enough to have finished properly.

Eventually though the rain eased enough to be able to take the boys out. To be honest they’d go out whatever the weather but I didn’t want to be responsible for a bout of pneumonia. The only attire that keeps this kind of rain from soaking you to the marrow are fishermen’s oilskins and not the cheap things you get from the high street.

The first task I’d chosen was to fell a large birch tree that was growing awkwardly near to the track down to my present hydro turbine. I don’t cut down trees ‘willy nilly’, the birch here is a valuable resource and has kept me in firewood for over twenty years. Managed carefully it will continue to so for generations. Taking out the older ones gives the younger ones space and light to flourish and the few sheep that are now on the Arnish hill ensure rapid regeneration, too rapid in fact. The Torran hill is becoming a veritable jungle since the sheep were removed, the path to Fladda being almost impassable in places.

The ancient tree I felled had the last laugh though, for I got the Honda stuck pulling out of the wood and had to suffer the indignation of being rescued by the Quadzilla.

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Not only that but the over enthusiastic ‘Lightning MacLennan’ pulled off my front bumper 😦

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Hardly surprising really when you see the size of the tree 🙂

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Ahh well, at least that found us a nice indoor job to do as the rain came back on 🙂

This took us nicely up to lunch and 14:00 when we had to head south with one of my helpers who had to be at his summer job in . Killing two birds with one stone we took the Land Rover and trailer to load up more stones for wifey’s paths in the veg patch.

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Now you know why we drink so much wine 🙂

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The day was improving by the minute and a spell of log splitting took us nicely up to 18:00 and some baked potatoes. The boys had worked so hard that I treated them to a quad ride up to ‘Pipers rock’ above Torran after dinner. Once there we abandoned our steeds and set off on foot to bury some pipe then do a little exploring up on those hills on the horizon.

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This pipe isn’t UV stabilized so should be buried, in all honesty, within a couple of years it will disappear into the heather but I thought I’d give it a head start, at least in the more exposed parts. After not very much digging we set off across the hill exploring, it may at first seem quite barren up here but at this time of year there is much to see.

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Many of the exposed rocks are covered in juniper and this one had berries on it,

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I dunno who built this tiny cairn generations ago but at its foot was a bunch of tiny flowers, which I think are saxifrage. If they’re not please tell me for I’d love to know.

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I know, it’s not a great picture, must have had the shakes 🙂

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In the murk of the top picture, looking north east is the entrance to Loch Torridon and in the bottom one just visible to the south, the Crowlin islands and the Applecross peninsula.

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Raasay’s highest point needing no introduction I’m sure 🙂

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This narrow lochan above the ‘Pipers rock’ being Am Feur-loch, which may or may not mean the grassy loch,


though it would make sense because it is grassy and it is a loch 🙂

After our ‘shortcut’ back to the quads we headed home and did a little drainage work on the way.

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That was about it really, it’s just after 23:00 and time for bed 🙂


A good testing :-)

Filed under: animals, daily doings, hydro, Land Rover, life off grid, pigs, stonework — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:30 am

Having four helpers to amuse and keep busy certainly takes it out of you, I was in my bed at 21:00 last night without putting pen to paper so to speak. Not through lack of trying right enough, but I’ve been attempting to upload a video to post on the blog now for hours. Thinking that I’d get up early and have another go I retired to my ‘pit’ whacked. No problem sleeping last night after an epic day with the boys and no rain 🙂

It’s already 7:30am so I should be feeding the pigs right now but it’s pishing with rain again, and from experience I know the pigs will forgive me 🙂 The full team of four is awake, dressed and ready for action so I’ll just quickly put something down on here before I forget.


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The day, as usual started with the morning feed, though unusually Jamie Lee’s six piglets had climbed through the gate to have a chat with Molly and our Soay tup lamb. This little chap is exceptionally bold for a sheep and most mornings chases Molly under the Land Rover, Molly is more accustomed to sheep running away than standing their ground so doesn’t really no what to make of him 🙂

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Before setting off to meet the 9:25 ferry from Sconser and boys pal number three we emptied the trailer of yesterdays beach stones in preparation for another load.

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Using the Quadzilla to put it through its paces after the numerous repairs. The Chinese machine has never done any real work so I though it was about time it did 🙂

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After picking up our largest and strongest helper from the ferry I wasted no time in putting him to work loading up the trailer with more stones for the path 🙂 The high tide however made manoeuvring on the beach a little tricky, so I had to improvise 🙂

Returning to the croft we unloaded the stones onto the veg patch paths and got ready for a survey of the hydro pipe we’d laid from Loch Beag to Tarbert. I had paced it all out, which is fine for calculating what I need but I wanted to find out exactly what it was in meters for the pressure drop calculations. So with a 100m length of twine, pen paper and four boys we set off.


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The Quadzilla may be poorly made but its high ground clearance, wider track and tyres make it very capable on the hill, especially on soft ground. It also has by far the best brakes of any quad I’ve driven, being ‘full hydraulic’ on all four wheels.

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Young ‘Lightning MacLennan’ may have short legs but he handled the large machine with ease 🙂

Once at the loch we paid out the 100m length of twine along the full length of the penstock,



discovering it to be 680m long with only 112m required to make up the shortfall. I must have longer legs than I suspected 🙂


pourspout calc

Using the that gives a respectable output of over 900w and with moving the turbine from my original planned location has reduced the cable length from 1500m to around 1Km. Of course that was measured by my legs, so it could well be shorter 🙂 Not only that but that first 500m or so would have been the most difficult to lay.

The weather was rapidly improving, so after a late lunch we got on with some bedding cutting and cleaned out the pigs.

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That was after I’d greased and adjusted up the trailer wheel bearings that is.

Back to North Arnish

The three boys were still eager to work but yours truly was knackered so I took the easy option of going up to North Arnish to check my neighbours, frog supply, sorry, I mean water supply 🙂

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I often wander up here on my own with the gun for rabbits or even just to admire the view but today that wasn’t and option, I was tired and the boys prefer the infernal combustion engine 🙂 Still, they had worked hard so deserved another jaunt so we motored up and parked by the old Post Office.


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Built as a hunting lodge in the 1850s by the Wood family it is of much grander design than your normal croft house and once boasted a slate roof. I don’t know when it became home for two crofting families but I’m guessing that connecting door by the middle fire place was sealed up then to make two separate houses. Latterly, I guess in the sixties it was used as a sheep fank with the entrance at the back through a window where the boys are. The trough being just out of sight by that cast iron pot.

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This, I think was the only house up here, the rest of the many ruins being byres and walled gardens.

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After exploring the ruins we went to check on the well that supplies my neighbours frog tank 🙂

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At the bottom of a cliff behind the houses it seldom runs dry and produces fine clean water,


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the expertly built well has a fine stone door that even has a hand hole.

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As usual the water tank had a good selection of wildlife in so we left them in peace and put the lid back on. I’m told that frogs and newts only like clean water and this supply watered many folk that lived to ripe old ages with few ailments so I’m not worried. Indeed were this supply not so far from my house and so prone to freezing up due to the altitude I’d use it myself.

Apart from repairing the old iron gate that divides the Torran and Arnish common grazings and almost cutting my lawn that was about it.

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And now at almost 10:30am on a Tuesday with little achieved other than feeding the pigs and acquiring a haircut I’d better drag the boys of the Xbox and do some work 🙂

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