Life at the end of the road

September 14, 2013

Just like old times :-)

Filed under: daily doings, life off grid, stonework — Tags: , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:55 pm

It was with great joy that I saw young ‘Lightning MacLennan’ arrive home with the Dude last night, I’d primed my boy to expect a busy day on the hill hauling cable and he’s obviously spread the word. I’d spoke to my son at the hostel on Wednesday or Thursday night and filled him in on progress with the ‘Applecross Broadband Project’ and all my shenanigans on Wednesday with Wifey and MiL    https://lifeattheendoftheroad.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/a-step-closer/ . Having much more sense than I he’d managed to find another pair of hands to help haul the second cable across the rock and heather.

Anyway, there was no holding us back this morning, or at least Lightening and I, my son had to be dragged out of bed once we’d fed the animals and I’d put the bacon on. It must have been the sunshine that had all the pigs and hens out even earlier than ourselves awaiting fed.

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As I’d left the Honda up at North Arnish with the cable reel on its rear carrier I set off on foot leaving the boys with the Yamaha and enthusiasm to use it. Probably what had Lightning up here in the first place, proper ‘petrol head’ that boy Smile

 

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Nothing like an early morning walk past the old garden and ruins at South Arnish after a bacon sandwich to set you up for the day. I was heading for the highest point on the horizon and very quickly regretting my salt laden ‘butty’, there isn’t much water once you get past the ruins of North Arnish.

I took the old path from South Arnish towards Torran, or at least I tried to,

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deep grass and dew filled cobwebs making it impossible to find, and that’s by one who trod it daily for many years.

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The boys took the regular route up ‘The Green’ or at least that’s what it used to be fifteen years ago, a green fertile slope rich in fungi at this time of year. Now it’s a tangle of bracken and scrub birch, kept clear only by my regular quad journeys to the North Arnish well.

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Once we were up past the ruins of ‘Donald’s barn’ and the old Post Office

 

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we parked the quads ‘fore and aft’, heaved the 150kg roll of cable onto their carriers and lashed it on.

The plan was to haul out as much as was humanely possible before cutting it, then dragging the cut length up to the top of the hill which would support the mast. Support being rather a grand term and ‘on top’ not strictly true as it’s hoped to keep the 2x 600mm dishes below the skyline so they will in effect be invisible. Not that it bothers me a fig if they can be seen, however there are whole army of so called lovers of the country side that think any kind of development or infringement of ‘their’ view is a crime. It’s OK for them to have superfast broadband a road to their door or job in the toon, but just try building a house here near the sea or starting a fish farm and they’re down on you like a ‘ton of bricks’. Ruining the cultural, architectural and natural heritage and all that carp. Well if people can’t get jobs here or have decent lines of communication then we’ll all end up like North Arnish, Hallaig and most of South Arnish.

Anyway, where was I before I went ‘off on one’ Smile

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well, I was atop a cliff some 80m from the quads, just by that rowan tree. The two boys were a good 150m or so further on dragging the cable through heather and over rock.

The cable is marked and we started off a 2770 and by the time we got to 2970 it was getting hard going, even when pulling wee bights then working them up the hill. So, when we reached the halfway mark I broke out the hacksaw, much to Simon, Brian and Alan’s disgust Smile

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That left us with 250m and 75kg on the drum http://www.batt.co.uk/upload/files/bs5467swa-pvccableiec60502600-1000v_1294822907.pdf , well worth ‘bookmarking’ that link if you’re into crackpot schemes like this Smile

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Just makes you wonder if there’d been a fish farm in the loch, a road to Arnish before Calum built one and a sensible fisheries policy if folk would still live here. Just look at the place, it’s beautiful, Dun Caan far left, the old Post Office left, a small barn to the right of the sycamore tree, Camilli’s green roofed croft and barn in the distance and behind that the blue roof membrane of our new hoose.

The lost camera (again)

With the cable chopped we set off once more on our trek, initially quite easily because we weren’t dragging anything. At around the 150m mark I stopped and let the two boys go ahead so we’d all be dragging just part of the cable and not the whole 250m. It was here that I put my camera down on a conspicuous rock, rain was unlikely to happen, it wasn’t going to get nicked and I was sick of carrying it.

 

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The ‘HTC Wildfire’ that I’d wasted almost an hour trying to download a GPS App on would take pictures even if it wouldn’t tell me where I was. I know I’m rubbish in the IT department but Lightning and the boy tried too, it just kept freezing whilst I tried to install it. Now I’m not incompetent but my memory is pish so when Phil suggested plotting the co ordinates of the joints I was most impressed with the idea, so I’ll try again later and if still no joy I’ll just take the ‘Tom Tom’ out of the car Smile

Arriving at the bottom of the hill we needed to climb we were confronted by what is in effect almost a cliff, however at its base is a flat grassy area that we used to pull the cable up to before Molly and I scaled it.

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The ‘wee dug’ had a knack for it and managed to pick out a safe route for me and the boys

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and here we are on the top, the dish’s I reckon, or at least one of them can go just below the boy in red Smile

 

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Facing the Aros ‘backhaul’ in Portree.

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The Trotternish ridge.

 

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Tying the end around a rock up there we headed back towards home and a late lunch, the boys had worked like Trojan’s and the progress beyond my expectations.

It was on the way back that I couldn’t find my camera!!! it had gone, no, I hadn’t forgotten where I’d put it, it must have been caught by the cable and dragged somewhere. After twenty minutes of fruitless searching we gave up, it wasn’t going anywhere, we were hungry and perhaps dragging cable number two would bring it to light.

A spectacular lunch rustled up quickly by myself, consisting of last nights pasta sauce, a rather spicy affair I’d knocked up with chorizo and Harissa paste http://www.ocado.com/webshop/product/Belazu-Rose-Harissa-Paste/36747011 served with noodles went down a treat. Though in all honesty we were all that hungry that we’d have eaten anything.

 

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After an hours rest we returned to the quads and got on with pulling off the rest of the cable, getting it all out and next to the other cable in less than an hour!!! What a team, seriously though these guys have been doing this sort of stuff with me for years and need little instruction. I just need to start paying them Sad smile Once the cable was in position we started a fresh search for the camera and after less than 10 minutes found it in the heather, no doubt knocked there by the stray end of the cable. Returning to the other end of the cable we tied it off on a tree and discovered an 80m shortfall.

 

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I’d thought as much on Wednesday when I laid the first section with only a couple of meters to spare, still it was a brilliant days work and Alison or Simon could order up the rest of the cable on Monday.

 

sea eagle

Just as we’d called it a day we got visit from a golden eagle, I say ‘called it a day’ but when we got home the post lady had delivered a box of these http://www.screwfix.com/p/prysmian-puj2cc-resin-joint-kit-2-5mm-4-core-max/61439

There was nothing for it, the weather was perfect today, it would break tonight and I’d absolutely no problem convincing the boys that we should trek once more back up that hill.

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Whilst we were going up again we lashed the aluminium scaffolding poles for the mast onto the quads and took some up.

 

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Hard to believe in this wilderness that once upon a time it must have been a well trodden path judging by this cast iron gate post and the heather indicating the line of the old wall and fence. You can see the line of the old wall better in that picture before the post, just behind the boy ‘bearing his cross’ Smile

 

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Here’s one of the many holes labouriously  bored by hand into the granite like gneiss so that the iron posts could be ‘leaded’ in, what is the point of ‘heritage’ if it’s left to revert to nature with no people left on the land????

 

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Jointing SWA cable

Despite all the flak I took about cutting and jointing it’s reliable, easy and cheap, far cheaper than a helicopter, powered barrow or squad of navvies. The joints are recognized by all manner of ‘certification’ bodies and insurance companies for under ground and underwater use. All you have to do is observe cleanliness, dryness, temperature, read the instructions and make sure the resin filling is ‘in date’.

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The instructions are in the packet so I’ll not bore you with the details just to say that the easiest way to strip back the actual galvanized wire armour is to score around it with a hacksaw whilst the outer sheath of the cable is still on. Then peel back the PVC and just bend the SWA armour by hand until it snaps. If you try and peel back the sheath first and cut the wire with snips it will look 5hite. It will hold every bit as good but look like its been done by an amateur.

That was it really, we got home, fed the pigs, cleaned out the chickens, had a mince pie and now I’m going to bed Smile It has been ‘such a perfect day’

 

 

OK, not ‘that’ perfect but it did involve a mountain and being very tired Smile

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14 Comments »

  1. If you named one of the way stations “Dude I” it would make sense, but calling the other “Lightning Rod” might tempt fate. And Molly should get some pathfinding credit too. Will there be a plaque?

    Comment by George Leddick — September 15, 2013 @ 12:19 am

  2. Hi Paul

    That cast iron post is, I think, very similar to ones further south on the island, especially on the track than connects the bottom road to the top (Youth Hostel) road. There used to be (can’t remember if they’re still there) a couple of iron gates with posts like that. All must have been put up around the same time.

    Great pics – thanks. Glad you found the camera!

    Sue

    Comment by Sue — September 15, 2013 @ 7:57 am

    • Morning Sue, yes it’s amazing where they turn up, I remember old Murdo Torran describing how they bored the holes, one man turned the chisel whilst the other hit it with a hammer. Then they’d light a fire to melt the lead.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — September 15, 2013 @ 9:08 am

  3. To be perfectly frank, that was inspiring. Wished I was over with you giving you a hand but 500 creels got in the way. We really appreciate your (and the Dude and Dude’s mate) efforts. Just wish the civil servants involved in the scheme were so enthusiastic and accomodating. cheers Ali.

    Comment by applecrosslifeattheedge — September 15, 2013 @ 8:59 am

    • Morning Ali, it was great ‘just like old times’ before I was squirreled away on this training lark. Nothing quite like a day on the hill with the boys dragging cable, pipe or some other crackpot scheme. We got it done just in time too, pretty wild here today.

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — September 15, 2013 @ 9:04 am

  4. you’ve knackered the able I see,,, you daft sod !!! wait till the water finds it’s way in .. then we’ll all be saying “”told ya so “” but hey we wont know eh cos you wont be putting it on here will ya ! You’ll be keeping shtum !! orra best with the weather today ,,, kinda damp mate ,,,,

    Comment by bw — September 15, 2013 @ 9:22 am

  5. oops cable

    Comment by bw — September 15, 2013 @ 9:23 am

  6. I’ll order the extra cable first thing tomorrow morning Paul. Thanks very much to you, the Dude and Lightning MacLennan for all your efforts, what a team! And I never had any problem/complaint/issue with cable jointing. Much cable jointing went on in cableship exercises off Rona when I was working there and there were no problems with the joints thereafter that I ever heard of, although they have been on the seabed since.

    Comment by alison — September 15, 2013 @ 10:02 am

  7. Paul, Another excellent post with great pictures, certainly a busy day with so much achieved.

    What about a wooden fence stake surrounded by a cairn at each join? No relying on this electronic gadgets then.
    You do wonder why we have moved away from these metal posts secured in rock for fences, so many are still to be found as secure as they day they were installed. I guess it just comes down to ££’s.

    Michael

    Comment by Arthur T Bomber Harris — September 15, 2013 @ 10:27 am

  8. shame about not being able to get the GPS app to work, Paul … I got fed up with my old phone freezing and the apps not working properly, my son said it was because the operating system and memory (?) wasn’t up to the standard of his phone … he has a Google Nexus 4 … anyway, I got so jealous of not being able to do all the neat things he can do that in the end I decided I was either going to fork out and buy one or buy an iPad … fortunately son spotted that they’ve reduced the price of the phone, probably because the next version is due to be released soon .. I’ve had it about 3 weeks now and very very pleased with it … maybe you should let Santa know … I know you claim to be a dinosaur when it comes to phones and until last year so was I, but I really think it’s time you seriously considered getting “with it” … you can access your emails, post your blog, install a GPS, and much much more

    https://play.google.com/store/devices/details?id=nexus_4_16gb

    Comment by cazinatutu — September 15, 2013 @ 10:30 am

  9. Hi Paul, I came across a photo you took of your Harris Hydro turbine via Google. I’m in the process of building a renewable energy exhibit for kids here in Vermont (US), and was wondering if you’d let us use that photo. We are featuring a micro system that uses that very turbine, but couldn’t get a decent shot as the powerhouse is very dark and didn’t have access for lighting. Your shot shows the turbine and plumbing quite well. You can email me, I have to go to press tomorrow with the files, so I’d need an answer fairly quickly. Thank you in advance.

    Comment by kristensusa23ith — September 15, 2013 @ 3:00 pm

    • Hi Kristen, use any images you like in such a good cause 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — September 15, 2013 @ 5:04 pm

  10. Normal service resumed.Good to see Arnish in detail again.:-)

    Comment by Andy — September 16, 2013 @ 8:20 am

    • Aye Andy,
      can’t wait until next ‘week off’ for more 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — September 19, 2013 @ 4:18 am


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