Life at the end of the road

August 23, 2011

Removing the lump :-)

Filed under: animals, boats, daily doings, hydro, life off grid, pigs — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:28 pm

Tuesday already and normally I’d just be heading up ‘Calum’s road’ right about now after doing the last couple of trips on the Loch Striven. I’d have been rushing around all morning like the proverbial ‘blue ar5e fly’ trying to finish all my projects off prior to the first full day back ‘on shift’ tomorrow, luckily for my I’ve got an extra day off, which is just as well because I’ve loads of projects to finish. There’s not a cat in hells chance of me actually doing all of them but I’m going to have a darn good try 🙂

I took it easy yesterday, the three boys that have been assisting me all weekend and walking miles up and down my penstock for the new hydro turbine left me worn out. Consequently a nice relaxing day with my parents was called for, so after crawling down a crater filled ‘Calum’s road’ I caught the 7:55 ferry with an equally tired son.


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And this is by no means the worst bit, had I taken photos of them all I’d have been catching the 8:55 ferry 🙂 After a leisurely day with mum and dad doing a few odd jobs, enjoying some fine home cooked meals and cutting some grass I returned home on the 4:15 complete with child.

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Meeting wife and ‘wee dug’ on the way home about a mile from Arnish 🙂

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Once home Molly gave the piglets a row for stealing pig food out of the store,


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well, that was after she’d helped herself to the feed on the floor 🙂

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After feeding everyone I wandered down to the shore to adjust the nozzles on my Stream Engine , my triple penstock system is self adjusting but I can squeeze a few more watts out of it by doing in manually. I never bother in the winter as we usually have more than enough power from the gales and rain but in the summer every watt is precious and it’s hardly a chore with sunsets like this over Loch Arnish 🙂

Beware of Bill 🙂

I’m ashamed to say that I spent the rest of the evening watching TV 😦 I don’t watch the ‘one eyed monster’ as a rule but I was fit for little else and wanted to be fresh for today 🙂

The plan being to pay my good friend Bill Cowie on Rona a visit to scrounge some pipe off him, but before that I actually did my VAT return!!!! OK, it’s a month overdue but they owe me money so I don’t suppose they’ll be to bothered at HMRC. I look upon my tardy returns of a way of helping with the national debt 🙂 Bet they’d be right on my case if it was the other way around 🙂

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It was a perfect day for it and in no time at all wifey and I were in the ‘Pioner Maxi’ and west of the once thriving island of Fladda off Raasay which was abandoned in 1965.

IMG_2397Fladda Scotavia

Picture courtesy of Gary Brindle of who has many more.


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Here’s some of many inhabitants that lived off the land and sea there in times gone by.

Twenty five minutes after leaving the mooring we passed the Dubh Camas or Black Bay

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on Rona before entering Acarseid Mhor or Big Harbour.

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The ‘wee dug’ may have been glad to get on the pontoon there but she was not so sure about the walkway 🙂

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The ‘Bill’ is only fierce if you don’t pay your paltry £1.00 landing fee 🙂

Once up at the lodge we were directed to the man himself who was busy butchering a stag in the very professional chiller that he built.

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Actually he’d just finished and much to Molly’s delight, gave her something to chew on 🙂

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With her out of the way of the machinery we went to retrieve what I’d come for, 150m of 90mm MDPE pipe for my hydro turbine.

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A few tugs with the JCB had it freed and the rest we did with his quad, pulling the long black snake the 600 yards or so down to the harbour past some bemused tourists 🙂 Kenny Livingstone and his daughter Gemma had just deposited a group on the ‘peaceful and unspoilt’ island in the ‘Seaflower’ a serious 40’ catamaran that runs out of Shieldaig.

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Towing the pipe down to the shore with the Honda we roped Kenny into helping tow some of it out to sea with Bill’s aluminium work boat. The twin 60hp Yamaha’s making light work of it. With 50 or so meters out in the harbour we reckoned that the wee Pioner’s 15hp would handle the rest.

Wifey and I declined Bill’s offer of a cup of tea in favour of heading back to Raasay ASAP,

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though not before grabbing a glass of water off the Seaflower, that really is a ‘serious boat’ 🙂

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That’s the pipe just leaving dry land astern some 150m behind the wee Pioner that towed it gracefully behind at a good 6Knts.

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With the flooding tide pushing us we took the short cut between Fladda and Raasay over the causeway that connects the two islands for six hours out of twelve.

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Once in Loch Arnish we came across Charlie MacLeish’s boat the Sabre II ‘clam diving’ so had to give him a wide berth with our snake 🙂 And if you’re looking for a well paid job that will take you to beautiful places, keep you fit and supplied with as many scallops as you can eat I believe he’s looking for divers 🙂

An alternative route

We landed the pipe at Camas a Bhu’t so it was out of the way after which we had a late lunch of pork and noodles. Next stage was to head over to the new hydro site on the quad and start to re route my pipe.


plan c

The green line being the present route ‘over the lump’.

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I started by uncoupling it at a joint then pulling by hand and quad as much as I could to reduce the height of the siphon. The plan being to take a lower route then measure the gap between the joints and tow another length of pipe into place, piece of cake 🙂


  1. I honestly don’t know how you fit it all in to a day!! Good work though, hope you get it all “flowing freely” 🙂

    Comment by markp — August 23, 2011 @ 9:39 pm

    • Morning Mark, flowing freely now thanks 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 25, 2011 @ 11:41 am

  2. Exhausting just reading it all. And what a wonderful sunset that was – great pic. I visited Shieldaig when I was a nipper on an Outward Bound course based in Applecross. Never forgotten the place. Beautiful it was. Always fancied living there – don’t expect it’ll ever happen, though! Would love to revisit it again some time.

    Comment by Iain — August 23, 2011 @ 9:50 pm

    • Hi Iain,
      A bonny part of the world indeed Is Shieldaig, Kenmore and all that part of Torridon.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 25, 2011 @ 11:44 am

  3. fascinating to see the photos of fladda residents – would it be possible to see these more clearly or individually somehow ?

    Comment by Nick — August 24, 2011 @ 10:24 am

    • Hi Nick,
      sorry but that’s the best picture I have and I came across that quite by accident. If I ever get a chance I’ll take better ones but it won’t be this year 😦

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 25, 2011 @ 11:46 am

  4. Very interesting entry with great photos, especially the ones of the islanders of Fladda. Am rather disturbed at the state of the road at your end. Is it passable by car? Coming over at the end of September and definitely want to walk to Fladda, but looks like four wheel drives are the only option on Calum’s Road!

    Comment by Carolyn — August 24, 2011 @ 11:12 am

    • Hi Carolyn,

      The road is quite passable with a car, though one recently put a hole in his sump 😦 Just don’t hurry 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 25, 2011 @ 11:47 am

  5. Apparently recycled tar plannings tamped into a pothole and covered with diesel make a very effective pothole repair technique

    Not that i would ever consider such a thing

    Comment by thinfourth — August 24, 2011 @ 8:22 pm

    • Now it’s funny you should mention this Thinforth, an old dear departed friend once muttered something similar using old engine oil some 25 years ago. I tried it around the back of the house when I first moved here using old oil from my Lister. I only used about two gallons over a period of about a year and it took 15 years to stop leaching out of the ground 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 25, 2011 @ 11:51 am

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