Life at the end of the road

October 1, 2011

How did Calum do it ?

Filed under: daily doings, hydro — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:26 pm

It’s funny because my back’s not hurting and it should be, my hands are still numb but the back is fine, it has been very busy day at the north end.

The first day of October really did feel like October, with a stag roaring in the half light of dawn just feet from the kitchen window and an ethereal mist lying in the hollow of our little valley. I was hoping for a little peace to savour it alone but half of my eager workforce arose not long after myself desperate to help with the days tasks. Actually they were more enthused with the thought of riding quads than digging holes and feeding pigs but the main work was a mile away over rough ground so they were happy to take the rough with the smooth.

  011011 001

By the time we left the house at 8:00am the fine ten pointed stag was gone and the mist all but away as we headed over the valley to recover my mate’s Quadzilla.

This less than three year old machine having burnt its second clutch out in just 650 miles was in a shed on my neighbours croft. Any other machine would have sat happily outside in the elements for a couple of weeks on my croft awaiting spares but not this piece of Chinese cr4p. When the last clutch failed it was only thirteen months old and I made the mistake of leaving outside for a few weeks whilst the parts came, the chrome fell off it, the rust came on it, the red plastic turned pink and the stickers peeled off 😦

 011011 006

So after pumping up the tyres we towed it home to fit the new clutch that had arrived very quickly from in Lincolnshire. Not only did it arrive quickly but it was far cheaper than the last one he bought. They were also very helpful when I phoned for advice. OK, the machine is rubbish but it’s good to know that at least there’s good back up when you need it.

011011 007

Fortunately it’s an easy enough job to do, well it is if you have a 42mm socket a tool to hold the clutch and drum to hold them and a willing pair of hands to put the big nut on whilst you compress the pulley spring. Luckily I had them all and the experience of doing it before 🙂

011011 015

That done we headed over the hill in our little convoy loaded with picks, shovels generator and rock breaker to get on with the trench.

011011 009

The purpose of this trench being to lower my water supply pipe as much as possible as it rises out of the loch in an effort to prevent, or at least minimise airlocks.

011011 013

It started off easy enough on Thursday but pretty soon I came across a rather solid bit of rock, further chipping away with my own 1100w Hitachi on Friday for an hour or two nibbled away rather slowly and I got to wondering about how Calum built his road. Today we had an 1800w Hilti and still the progress was slow, how on earth di he manage  when he came to a stubborn bit of Scotland? I had four helpers, a jackhammer, a generator to power it and a quad to carry it!!

Immortalised in song

by Schiehallion


a great tune by Capecaillie and of course Roger Hutchinson’s excellent book which has now been made into a play.

280911 001

Currently touring Scotland it finishes quite aptly in our very own village hall on the 25th November Though I have to say that this quote lifted off the brochure made me laugh.

calums school

“His daughter has been forced to board at secondary school” forced indeed, it took us four months to get our son in there 🙂


Anyway after a good few hours work interspersed with the ride home for food we had made good progress.

 011011 023

011011 026

011011 027

There’s now way that I would have tackled this with a pick, how did he do it 🙂

The ‘Powerspout’ is here 🙂

I have to say that I was a little dubious when Parcel Force promised to deliver my new hydro turbine today, especially when I’m pretty sure it’s been sat in their Inverness depot for a week 🙂 But arrive it did, well packaged and pretty quickly considering it came from New Zealand .

011011 031 011011 034

011011 035 011011 032

011011 033

Purchased from Hugh Piggott at who handled all the shipping and import taxes it seems a very well made and sturdy piece of kit with quality bearings and a stainless steel shaft. This is the GE400 version designed for tying to the grid via an inverter but there are battery charging versions available cheaper. I chose this option due to its higher voltage and will couple into my own ‘mini grid’ via a Sunnyboy SB1200 inverter again purchased from Hugh so I know I’ll have good back up and not get fleeced on delivery charges 🙂


011011 029

What a finish to the day from the end of our drive looking over to Skye 🙂



  1. to think of the children working the same stone calum and everyone back 10,000 years did takes my breath away. as does that last shot, the tree(s) silhouetted against the violet water.
    i wonder if you know the work of the artist carrie ackroyd who did a whole series on the poet john clare? i think you’d like them both, will get you the url.

    Comment by jeannette — October 2, 2011 @ 12:40 am

  2. Suspect Calum used a bit of explosive now and then. In fact I am sure I read about Army Engineers blowing up the rock for him.However,you still have to shovel up the result.Determination through the medium of a pick,wheelbarrow and shovel.Put your back into it! (in a risk assessed manner of course) 🙂

    Comment by Andy — October 2, 2011 @ 9:26 am

    • Hi Andy,
      pity ‘Crushrock’ weren’t still here hey, I’m sure we could have come to some arrangement, pork for gelignite 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 3, 2011 @ 12:06 pm

      • Bangers and smash then 🙂

        Comment by Andy — October 3, 2011 @ 6:38 pm

  3. Came up and rode Calum’s Road earlier this year to include in ‘Cycling in the Hebrides’ which comes out next year. Had a real granny 32 sprocket on the back and it still hurt especially that climb south out om Brochel. By that time I was truly f___ed, but I wouldn’t have left it out for the world.

    Comment by Across the Minch — October 2, 2011 @ 10:49 am

    • Hi Richard,

      didn’t realize you were working when I met you on the ferry 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 3, 2011 @ 12:07 pm

      • Bloody was that day Paul – reckon it was a harder ride up to your house and back that day than climbing over Bealach Na Ba a couple of months later. Not much better over here on Harris though – have a choice of a short ride up and over to Reinigeadal and back – or up to the main road and away somewhere further. I’ll soon be as fit as that wee dug. All the best.

        PS Loving our solar water heating and GSHP – even on a dull day, we’re getting the water up to 30 degrees on the solar alone – then the GSHP takes it higher still – and if that’s not enough, the immersion in the GSHP takes it even further. Dead smart kit too – every 14 days it automatically ramps it up to 60 odd degrees to kill off any chance of legionella. Such clever kit – but don’t start asking complicated questions about it; I can hardly work a TV remote

        Comment by Across the Minch — October 5, 2011 @ 1:07 pm

      • You can hardly work the TV remote ATM, that’s one step up from me, I can’t work it 🙂 Granny sprocket or not ATM at least you made it without pushing 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 7, 2011 @ 9:41 pm

  4. Hi Paul

    Back home again with a new hip and catching up on Rassay news. Calum dealt with meeting a stubborn bit of Scotland by being one himself, just as you have to be!

    Keep digging, but watch the back.


    Comment by Sue — October 2, 2011 @ 5:19 pm

    • Glad you’re on the road to recovery Sue, funny enough the back has been just fine thanks, bit of a surprise really.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 3, 2011 @ 12:20 pm

  5. I really enjoyed learning about Calums Road and the island you live on. I so enjoy watching the videos, looking at your pics, and learning about other parts of the world. This is my only way of traveling and meeting other people and cultures so am I glad I found your blog and you make it so enjoyable to read…even the “rants” LOL.

    Comment by Susan — October 3, 2011 @ 1:35 am

    • Hi Susan, glad you’re still enjoying the blog, you’ll probably get fed up of after a few weeks when you realize that it’s just ‘re runs’ of the same series 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 3, 2011 @ 12:22 pm

  6. The National Theatre of Scotland’s production of Calum’s Road really is a cracking play and hard to fault in any way. Having read the book and absorbed myself in island life vicariously, via your enthralling blog, I turned up at the Falkirk theatre wondering just how this could all be brought to life within the confines of a small stage. I needn’t have worried – this is a most ingenious piece, perfectly paced and balanced with some very clever touches. But not ‘clever clever’ in the intrusive sense and I left full of admiration for the cast and director and very moved: this is something that will stay with me for a very long time. One of the rather endearing touches were a couple of references to ‘the fellow who writes the blog’ – so fame at last in a form that should long outlast the rather ephemeral nature of a web based diary! Thanks so much for all the effort you have put into sharing your life over the past few years. Jonathan

    Comment by Jonathan Mosse — October 20, 2011 @ 9:50 am

    • Hi Jonathan,

      welcome aboard and thanks for the review, I can’t wait 🙂

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 23, 2011 @ 7:22 pm

  7. […] three in the ceiling. Obviously, it would be even faster if I had access to an 1800w jackhammer as Paul does when breaking stone but I’m neither as rickety or old as he […]

    Pingback by Excavating the dining room | Musings from a Stonehead — October 20, 2011 @ 9:47 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: