Life at the end of the road

October 18, 2013

Golden road and golden sand :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings — Tags: , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 7:44 am

No sign as yet of the dodgy weather that has been forecast, quite the contrary in fact, although it appeared to have rained during during the night on Rassay there was little evidence elsewhere. So with our bags packed the night before, we arose early, bade the family farewell and headed for the first ferry leaving Raasay. We had to depart Arnish at 7:15 to catch the 7:55 ferry to connect with the 9:40 from Uig to Tarbert.


Arriving there in time to check in with my company pass for a free crossing Smile It was great to get aboard the MV Hebrides and introduce wifey to all the ‘shipmates’ that had nursed me through my training on the ‘big boats’. By the time I’d finished catching up and had a fine breakfast we were almost at Tarbert on Harris.


Leaving the ‘Heb’ behind we pottered south in wifey’s Almera towards Rodel at Harris’s south eastern tip, choosing to take the long, tortuous and spectacular ‘Golden Road’. So called because it’s construction in 1897 was very expensive, at least that’s one story but an eminent local historian disagrees and I suspect he could be right. Either way it’s a particularly spectacular road through, over and by many lochs, bays and tiny hamlets.


There are, I would say more telegraph poles than trees on Harris but think nonetheless of it for that, the ones that do survive the ravages of weather, deer and sheep are quite admirable.


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Just check out this old rowan clinging precariously to a rock at the side of the ‘Golden Road’.



After a few miles of meandering we swapped the ‘Golden Road’ for the golden sands of South Harris.


No donkeys, sticks of rock, and hundreds of tourists on these unspoilt beaches.



No one other than the wife and I in fact,


just boodly amazing Smile



With feet full of sand we eventually tore ourselves away and set off for Rodel via the small fishing/ferry port of Leverburgh  . A strange place with a frontier feel about it and a name inherited from a former benefactor, Lord Leverhulme,_1st_Viscount_Leverhulme . He established a fish processing plant there during WW1 when meat was rationed and fish popular


The remains of which can still be seen today



a water tank and huge anchor being just a couple.

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After a wander around there, watching the newly arrived Leverburgh lifeboat ‘Royal Thames’


we devoured a burger from the ‘Butty Bus’ and headed for Rodel and its beautiful fifteenth century church,_Rodel


The church was built using local Lewisian gneiss rock. Its ground plan is cruciform and there is a tower at the west end, accessible through a door at the west end of the nave and a set of stone staircases and wooden ladders. The choir and the sanctuary with the high alter, which used to be separated by the nave by a wooden screen, are located at the opposite east end of the church. In the transepts leading off from the nave on both sides, there are additional chapels, the entrance door points nord and leads to nave. The architectural style is essentially that of 1520 to 1550.

In 1528, Alasdair Crotach MacLeod, 8th Chief, prepared for himself a magnificent wall tomb on the south side of the choir – possibly the finest medieval wall tomb in Scotland, being crowned by an arch and ornated by carvings of biblical design. The 9th Chief, Alasadair or Alexander’s son William, had his grave prepared in the south wall of the nave in 1539. In the south transept, there is a third grave probably belonging to John MacLeod of Minginish, the 10th Chief. There are five more grave slabs leaning against the wall of the north transept. The graveyard surrounding the church contains a number of MacLeod tombs.

According to Dean Donald Munro in his 1549 work about the Western Isles,[1] the church was built for the Chiefs of the MacLeods of Harris, who lived in Dunvegan Castle in Skye, probably from about 1520, and is not considered the first church on the site although there is no clear evidence of an older Celtic church. Munro described the church as a monastery, but as there is no evidence hinting to a monastic community, this expression is believed to refer to a minister, and with it to an important parish church. It was a Catholic church before falling into disuse shortly after its completion around 1560 as a consequence of the reformation, but the churchyard continued to be used as a MacLeod burial site. The church’s decayed roof was renewed in 1784 by Captain Alexander MacLeod of Berneray, but burned down shortly after and had to be rebuilt once again in 1787. In the 19th century it was used as a cow byre before being restored by Catherine Herbert Countess of Dunmore in 1873, and in 1913, the tower was rebuilt after being damaged by a lightning stroke six years earlier. Today, the church is under the care of Historic Scotland. A notable 17th-century poetess Mary Macleod (Mairi Nighean Alasdair Ruaidh) is said to be buried here.



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It really is quite special, inside and out,



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it’s graveyard even has an iron headstone! now I’ve never seen one of those before, obviously belonged to some Victorian who embraced modern technology Smile.

There was much more at Rodel, like the Stassa


and a ‘Chain Home Low Radar station’ but I’ll have to tell you about that later, it’s 8:35 on a bonny autumn morning here at the Lochedge B&B and we have to eat Smile

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  1. Outstanding photos as always, very much appreciated.

    Comment by Billy — October 18, 2013 @ 7:55 am

  2. Hi Paul, your wonderful blog has always fascinated me over the years, but I have to say today’s has really surpassed many of those that have gone before. A truly fantastic tour of the ‘Golden Road’ such a delight. You must do more for our tourist trade than all the tourist boards put together. Long may you continue to thrill us all with your wonderful accounts. Have a great holiday . Regards to your good lady wife. Robert Findlay.

    Comment by Robert Findlay — October 18, 2013 @ 8:00 am

  3. What a change from the buissy hub of Raasay to the quiet bays of Rodel. Paul you’ll go nuts, you won’t know what to do with your selves. Maybe you can catch up with a bit of Monastic contemplation .

    Comment by Polite Scouser — October 18, 2013 @ 9:06 am

  4. Great pics and blog as always Paul, you are a inspiration to us townies!! Btw the weather is supposed to be getting very bad this winter, I have even stuck snow tyres on my day to day : ) have a great holiday and I look forward to your next posting !!

    Comment by v8mbov — October 18, 2013 @ 10:55 am

  5. great pics Paul … glad you’ve made it to explore the islands after just looking at them from the ferry all that time … now just don’t get carried away and do too much shopping

    by the way, what’s happened to the “recent posts” that used to be down the side of the page, it seems to have disappeared

    Comment by cazinatutu — October 18, 2013 @ 12:13 pm

    • ah, I see “recent comments” is back, thanks Paul

      Comment by cazinatutu — October 19, 2013 @ 8:24 am

    • ‘Recent posts’ was lifted by some ‘tinks’ Caz, found them in a scrapyard next to the telephone cable 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 21, 2013 @ 8:38 pm

  6. Paul, Wiffey.

    Have a great break and i hope you both enjoy it. you deserve every second.



    Comment by Sean Maloy — October 18, 2013 @ 12:57 pm

    • Thanks Sean 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 21, 2013 @ 8:38 pm

  7. Spent a lovely week in Harris this summer- love it. Brought back happy memories looking at ur pix. Have a fab time and hope the weather holds for u:)

    Comment by mudarissa — October 18, 2013 @ 3:38 pm

  8. Is that Luskentyre beach? It’s a fantastic place

    Comment by Graeme Oliver — October 18, 2013 @ 5:52 pm

  9. One of my favourite places – lovely to see the pictures. Is the pod from Taransay still on the Luskentyre beach road? Have a well deserved rest.

    Comment by kirstentuggey — October 18, 2013 @ 6:23 pm

    • Pod????

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 21, 2013 @ 8:39 pm

  10. i love it when you take pictures of your pootling. thank you for the view from the tower of the church, one of the many i will never see in person. if you get a chance while you’re on harris, maybe you could photograph and poke around in one of those tidal pools and let us see the critters (if any) who live there. i love me a good tidal pool.

    Comment by jeannettesmyth — October 19, 2013 @ 7:06 am

  11. Paul, you’re probably already aware of these but there’s a couple of interesting pictures of the Stassa before she sank here and here

    Comment by Neil King — October 20, 2013 @ 11:49 am

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