Life at the end of the road

March 2, 2013

The Raasay shooting rights debacle :-)

Filed under: animals, daily doings, harbour, New hybrid ferry, stonework, Trucks and plant — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 11:08 pm

March already, where has the winter gone ?? Of course we’ll be due the ‘lambing snow’ in April and the equinox will usually throw up the odd icy blast but winter’s ‘back is broken’. The sight of two wheatears last Sunday, a pied wagtail in Portree and frogspawn on the Torran path today all pointed towards winter’s demise.


The chirpy wee bird that can often be seen pecking itself in car wing mirrors or tapping on our kitchen window may well be common enough throughout the winter ‘down sowf’ but he’s purely a summer visitor here.

As for the wheatear he’s a summer visitor from Africa and in these parts is the favourite ‘foster parent’ for the lazy cuckoo. On Raasay he has a Gaelic name that means ‘follower’ for he can often be seen chasing the cuckoo, who no doubt is trying to lay an egg in the much smaller birds nest.

Wheatear - male

A ground nesting bird who has nothing whatsoever to do with wheat, the name coming from it’s distinctive white rump (white rear) as it flies away Smile

Back in the Minch

As you’ve probably noticed I haven’t posted for days or replied to many comments, not through any loss of interest or lethargy but because I’ve either been too busy or stuck in Lochmaddy. Not that there’s anything wrong with Lochmaddy apart from abysmal phone and internet coverage there, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t Sad smile The day after Lochmaddy we were in Tarbert on Harris but a minor problem with one of the main engines meant a 21:00 finish which saw me showered and in bed before 22:00.


001 003

A busy week saw a familiar visitor to Raasay making a trip over the Minch to collect a 13 ton Hitachi, Eyre Plant’s ‘W’ reg Scania having done many a days work on our own village hall and new harbour.



Not such a common sight as they used to be and certainly not in this quantity are ‘small bales’ but here was a lorry load crossing the Minch on Thursday.

A bit of a ‘U turn’

You really couldn’t make this up Smile Imagine a small island crofting community on the brink of crisis, the school roll is falling, the shop about to close, the population aging and no drink or pub on the island Sad smile A significant reversal of these trends being envisaged once Raasay House is back up and running after two renovations and one fire Sad smile Millions has been spent to give us a decades overdue harbour and a world first hybrid RoRo ferry is on the way. We have two development officers looking for ways to bring more jobs and prosperity to the island and in the background the crofting community carry on doing two or three other jobs whilst raising cattle, sheep and pigs. They don’t do other jobs because they’re greedy, they do it to keep their heads above water.

Most of them are tenants and their landlord is the Scottish Office who own about 80% or more of Raasay. The Scottish ministers own Raasay and rent the land to the crofters but not the shooting or mineral rights, at least they didn’t until around 12 years ago when they leased out the unused ‘rights’ to a group of crofters that proceeded to develop them. Over the years they’ve brought in hunters from all over Europe, erected fences, invested in a chiller, found a market for ‘Raasay venison’ supplied the shop and most importantly given the ‘rights’ a value by returning figures to their landlord.

This will be a landlord that oversees the allocation of various grants and schemes to keep such fragile communities as ours alive. This will be the same landlord that is funded by the government and works closely with the ‘Crofters Commission’ another government funded body. Now both of these departments are real big on ‘community buy outs’, empowering the locals and supporting diversification amongst crofting families.

So how on earth did they let the sporting lease go to a company 250 miles away . Initial inquiries suggested ‘ a significantly higher bid’ and when questions were asked in the house, ‘best value for the taxpayer’ and ‘what’s best for the people of Scotland’ rolled from the tongues of the politicians Sad smile Turns out the ‘significantly’ higher bid was about the price of an MP’s lunch and travel expense for the week, a whacking £1850 Smile It also transpires that Raasay’s bid was accompanied by letters from several satisfied local business’s expressing their satisfaction and support of the ‘in house’ venture.

Anyway, after a week of discussions at the highest level and an embarrassing climb down for poor old Alex the lease has been returned to the right place.

    uk-scotland-highlands-islands-21615994 Smile Smile Smile

So let me get this right, for some brainless civil servant thinking he can make a full £1850, South Ayrshire Stalking have been awarded £9000 compensation and a delegation came up from Edinburgh to apologize Smile The days ‘jolly’ from the capital would have cost about as much as the tender difference and the SNP shot their selves in the foot, priceless Smile



Well, at least everyone is smiling now and its good to see the ‘next generation’ taking an interest Smile



To be honest I can see much good coming out of this fiasco, Raasay is once more in the spotlight,  it has been much discussed in the hunting press so may generate more interest in our fine woodcock, deer and trout Smile Many thanks for Davie Carslaw for the pictures and Paul Wheelhouse and company for seeing sense Smile

Meanwhile back on the croft 

Sorry if this is a little disjointed but you can blame Darrel for that Smile Well, actually it’s a bottle of Lindeman’s ‘shiraz cab sav’ but it was recommended by Darrel Smile You don’t have to go to an expensive vintner to find a good bottle of plonk on Skye, nope, you just go to the Broadford Co op and seek out Darrel Smile He will point you in the direction of the best bargains in the vin department, I speak from experience Smile 

Anyway, I left the good ship MV Finlaggan on Friday afternoon and headed home via the Cuilins








though to be honest, they’re rarely out of sight.


The ‘wall from Donegal’ was now two walls Smile

I collected my son at the ferry and finally arrived home around 17:15 in time to feed the pigs. Saturday arrived without incident and once all the feeding was done and the bins taken out we all ‘took off’ to go and visit my parents, something I’ve done precious little of recently.



A pleasant few hours followed, along with a ‘wee walk’


just check out the fallen tree and how it’s lifted the fence.



Then it was back to Sconser for the 15:00



and I do hope that this is not the full size of the waiting room Sad smile



Imagine trying to get 50 wet schoolchildren and their baggage in that Sad smile



Looks like that’s just the porch Smile HRC may well be carp at maintaining the roads but they sure do make nice waiting rooms Smile

Moving house

Once back on the croft and with the animals fed we all went over to Torran to collect a house, a hen house that is.


It was needing a little work but was basically sound, having come from ‘Donald the hen’ on Skye. Donald Macdonald of Struan has perfected this 18 hen house over many years and I remember it being carried over to Torran some ten or fifteen years ago. No mean feat along the steep and uneven path, however it had been unused for many years now and wifey had been offered it for the extra hens she was planning.



All the dry weather of late had dried it out nicely so we had no bother rolling it onto the trailer and ‘ratcheting’ it down.

Though before we set off back the Dude took us to the cemetery, no ordinary one, one that was used for burying dead infants, marked on the OS map as Cladh an Torrain I never actually knew where it was.


However the Dude had been shown its location last year and led us to it,


074 075

hard to discern from the picture but quite clear on the ground, a small walled area with a natural stone boundary on the south side. In days gone by when death in childbirth was common and infant mortality high, this is where the young were buried.

077 078

After visiting the cemetery I gingerly headed home with my unstable load, discovering the first frogspawn of the year with the wheels of the quad Sad smile


Not the only working generator Smile

And whilst my trusty Lister SR2 ‘flashed up’ for the first time in months yesterday, somewhere on the Clyde one of the Volvo D13 generators on the MV Hallaig burst into life for the first time in the hull of yard number 725 Smile


A little puff of smoke indicated that our new hybrid ferry had a ‘heartbeat’ at last Smile


  1. Glad to hear that alls well that ends well over the sporting lease sometimes a little bit of people power can resolve a, win win for all. Enjoy your time off.

    Comment by Polite Scouser — March 2, 2013 @ 11:48 pm

    • Morning Walter, yes, good to see sanity has prevailed.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 3, 2013 @ 6:52 am

  2. The Donegal wall and shooting rights “sure whose money is anyway” ti’s ihe same here as well. However life was harsh then……
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    A cillín (Irish: meaning “little church or burial ground”; plural cillíní), was a historical unconsecrated burial place in Ireland for children unbaptised at the time of death.[1] Suicides, shipwrecked sailors, strangers, urepentant murderers and their victims were also sometimes buried there—they were used for “infants and other ambiguous categories of individual”.[2] Some of them are more than 1,000 years old. Ancient pagan burial practices were sometimes later co-opted by Christianity.[2]
    The word cillín is a common element in Irish place names, often anglicised as Killeen.[3] An alternative meaning of cillín indicates a small church, from the diminutive form of Irish: cill, meaning church. The word is thought to come from the Latin: cella, meaning little church………. No bereavement counsellors just get on with life

    Comment by mi — March 3, 2013 @ 12:15 am

    • Cheers Mi and thanks for that ‘snippet’ of information.


      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 3, 2013 @ 6:53 am

  3. Great news about the shooting rights. Now what does a person have to do to get the same result for the roads? I fear there is little point in progressing everything else unless that problem is taken seriously and sorted once and for all with a future maintenance programme thrown in! I wrote over a year ago to all and sundry (councillors, MSPs, MPs) including the tourism Highland Council guy after our car bottomed twice on the stretch of road before you reach Calum’s Road but nothing positive came back and the situation is obviously worse now. Wondering if it would be a good time to re-write with Raasay being on the tip of the tongue at the moment? And if everybody who is concerned was to do so?

    Comment by may cruickshank — March 3, 2013 @ 12:49 am

    • Morning May and thanks for all your letter writing and emails in the past, like you say, perhaps now is a good time to ‘blitz’ it once again. I’m going to make it this weeks mission 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 3, 2013 @ 6:57 am

  4. thrilled hunting right have been returned to the raasay people.
    for some reason this strikes me as one of your best posts — so well written, so wide-ranging yet spare. nice to see you with your parents, and to see how donald the hen’s coop has held up so well….and the babies’ cemetery with its beautiful view. some one picked it for them.
    what a world.

    Comment by jeannette — March 3, 2013 @ 4:26 am

    • Morning New Mexico 🙂 can’t stay I’ve gotta go and fix a hen hoose 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 3, 2013 @ 6:59 am

  5. I echo Jeannette & excellent news that sanity has prevailed, next stop the roads.
    Cracking picture of the bright dustcart and the dark sky.


    Comment by Arthur T Bomber Harris — March 3, 2013 @ 7:15 am

    • Morning Michael,

      I know I harp on about HRC’s incompetence in the roads department but there’s nothing wrong with their bin collections at Arnish 🙂 Well apart from the bin lorry wrecking the road that is, but hey you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 3, 2013 @ 7:18 am

  6. Hi paul
    great news this week re fishing & shooting rights, I think great opportunity to get some focus on the island when the scottish parliament & media interest is still there, the roads issue & also the forestry commision land circa 70 acres, not sure if they mean sell the land or sell the stock but I think most was cleared last year so I would think it would not be difficult to purchase & hold in trust for the island , re planting I think would be the only cost issue, this I think would be easy to tie in with the shop
    all benefit & income for the island, also rassay house reopening finally 3million investment after the previous contractor went bust ROC ithink might be wrong with that info, anyway all good news for the island

    Comment by Alan Patrick — March 3, 2013 @ 8:03 am

    • Aye Alan you’re right ROC went on the rocks 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 3, 2013 @ 9:19 pm

  7. It’s all been said, but I join the others in saying how pleased I am that the shooting rights are back where they should be. I never know whether writing MPs makes a difference, but it’s always worth a try. It’s about time I e-mailed the Highland and Island roads dept in Alness again about the roads. No use getting a bigger ferry and more visitors after all the press coverage if they end up with broken suspension.


    Comment by Sue — March 3, 2013 @ 8:57 am

    • Quite right Sue, I really must get ‘on the case’ and start writing 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 3, 2013 @ 9:16 pm

  8. The neglect of road surface repairs nationwide is going to cost us dearly.Once the road edge fails it can require a lot of aggregate and sometimes even concrete to regain stability before any fresh tarmac is laid. Like your 18 berth mobile-(hen)-home 🙂

    Comment by Andy — March 3, 2013 @ 2:14 pm

    • Hi Andy, so it’s not just Raasay’s roads that are crumbling then???

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 3, 2013 @ 9:06 pm

      • Had to replace the cars track control arm (wishbone) bushings for the second time in 2 yrs recently.Heavy duty bushings were fitted in the first instance and the car used on predominately A and B class roads.Granted the A roads have to be repaired asap country lanes locally are crumbling having suffered a perfect storm of extreme cold(-20c),high rainfall,drought and spending cuts in the last few years.Raasay roads though have certainly had some stick recently.

        Comment by Andy — March 3, 2013 @ 10:04 pm

  9. What kind of barmy world is it where you build the porch before the building it is for?

    Comment by Phil Cook — March 3, 2013 @ 3:19 pm

    • What kind of barmy world is it where you build the porch before the building it is for?

      perhaps it’s to keep the rain off ‘The wall from Donegal’ 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 3, 2013 @ 9:04 pm

  10. When are you due back to normal life on the Hallaig, all this globe trotting must be driving you mad. I do hope the new waiting room at Sconser is left open overnight, I could do with a handy bothy for the Cuillin.
    You really are teasing me with those photos, the zoomed in one shows the line up to Bealach nan lice on the ridge, looks like perfect crampon snow. I feel a long drive coming on again 🙂

    Comment by Simon — March 3, 2013 @ 3:23 pm

    • “Back to normal” how I wish 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 3, 2013 @ 9:01 pm

  11. When you move to your new palace, what will keep the free range chickens from returning “home” to roost?
    Used any blue road paint lately?

    Comment by drgeo — March 3, 2013 @ 8:50 pm

    • When you move to your new palace, what will keep the free range chickens from returning “home” to roost?

      security fence

      🙂 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 3, 2013 @ 9:00 pm

  12. Couldn’t face writing round all the local and highland authorities and the MP and MSPs again at the moment so I have just written to Alex Salmond instead.

    Comment by may cruickshank — March 3, 2013 @ 9:26 pm

  13. Delighted the shooting rights have been restored. It was so unfair.

    Comment by Marjorie Stintzi — March 3, 2013 @ 10:12 pm

  14. What a nice ‘W’ reg motor, was thinking of the length as you do on ferrys and they should have wide bodied that tipper so it could carry the digger?

    Lots of Nice pics this time.
    sorry about the fence!

    Comment by Roy cleary — March 3, 2013 @ 11:01 pm

    • Any wider Roy and they wouldn’t fit through the gates here 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 4, 2013 @ 9:44 pm

  15. I wonder if the conscience of ‘the man from the ministry’ was pricked when he discovered no toilet or waiting room at Sconser, and that on the ferry and Raasay he could not get a cup of tea, or a ‘refreshment’ however thirsty he was, and if he had diabetes and needed to eat…….! Great pics tho, keep them coming. Glad the Torran Cemetery is now accessible. I returned to there a few years ago and could not get in; a fallen tree had blocked the entrance.
    On Gaelic News today Raasay was referred to as a solution to the impossible..’they should let the Raasay people sort it out’ so yes ..more power to their elbow re their roads and lack of an eating/drinking place. All readers of this blog write to The Scottish Office, Leith. Edinburgh, the M.P Charles Kennedy at Houses of Parliament .London.England. The Scottish Parliament ,Holyrood, Edinburgh.Not sure if writing the Highland Roads Dept is of much use. I have had no response from them to my complaints to date.

    Comment by SOTW — March 4, 2013 @ 9:12 am

    • I wonder if the conscience of ‘the man from the ministry’ was pricked when he discovered no toilet or waiting room at Sconser,

      I doubt he even noticed in his chauffeur driven, air conditioned car She, and as for ‘refreshments’ well I’m sure they had plenty on the way up 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 4, 2013 @ 9:43 pm

  16. Hi Paul

    I’ll just echo everyone else’s thoughts about the return of the rights and, by the sound of things, perhaps a more appropriate approach to the next round of leasing. Welcome news indeed.

    I’m with you about the utter waste of money that the whole fiasco has invoked. I bet the Civil Servants involved won’t even get a negative note on their appraisal forms. The £9000 compensation and the Ministerial time would easily pay for the rights for a goodly few years. It really is time for local decisions to be made by local people for local people. As one comment said, “whose money is it anyway?”.

    I hope the pressure keeps up so that the roads and other infrastructure issues can be resolved. You are not alone with the roads thing though; only yesterday due to a fast oncoming car I had no choice but to hit a deep pothole – today I’ve ordered a new wheel (and heck knows what the tracking and linkages will be like). The minor roads here have also taken a battering with torrential rain, then snow and frost, pulling last year’s patches out and deepening the holes in the process. Experience tells me the county council will disclaim all responsibility when I try to claim for the damage!

    Well done to everyone who campaigned for the return of the rights.

    Comment by Carrie — March 4, 2013 @ 10:19 am

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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: