Life at the end of the road

March 6, 2014

The thousand mile epic :-)

Home at last, I dunno how many posts that I’ve started with that phrase but it must be dozens, the weather may be pish, the croft waterlogged and the wine rack empty but I’m so glad to be back. I don’t think I’ve done a journey like that since 1984, when I’d quite often just nip up to Oban for a weekends wreck diving. Always after a full day at work and usually in a twenty year old Land Rover towing a boat.

Sure it’s no big deal for most folks but 90% of my driving is on roads that don’t have roundabouts, lights or even traffic on them and my vehicle is hardly ideal in town or on the motorway. Actually my vehicle is pretty unsuitable for most things, apart from what it does the most, which is ‘haul my ass’ up and down ‘Calum’s road’, quite often with heavy weights attached to it.

With fuel consumption of 20mpg at an average speed of around 40mph it’s hardly conducive to saving the planet or making friends on the highway. However I wouldn’t have got the job done without a vehicle with a winch and it’s very presence intimidates other motorists into politeness. You would be amazed at how many people give way for an old, large, slow and erratically driven vehicle at roundabouts and slip roads.

My epic trip started proper at 7:30 on Sunday morning when I flashed up the ‘Old Girl’ and headed up Glenshiel towards Loch Cluanie


which seemed to be having its first ‘high tide’ in ten years or so. There really, really must have been some serious rain this winter, for Loch Cluanie hasn’t been this high in years.



This is how I always remember it used to be twenty years ago, even in the spring and summer.


Hardly surprising after all the rain we’ve had, but Loch Loyne was just as full.

  File:The "Road to the Isles" - Loch Loyne - Large Bridge, from south side - - 969197.jpg

Here’s the two lochs in September 2012 as I headed sowf it was exceptionally low then but that bridge on the left has now been visible for years. You can see normally submerged part on the bank opposite.



The roads where quiet and clear and apart from diesel, the odd couple of minutes of leg stretching and trailer checking I  just kept going. An unabridged reading of Compton Mackenzie’s ‘Whisky Galore’ on the tape player amusing me for the ‘nth’ time all the way to Preston, some nine hours later. I’ve read the book, seen the movie and listened to the tape but it always makes me smile.

I won’t mention the broccoli

Trusting to my memory rather than the ‘pratnav’ I managed to get lost, how it’s changed since I was last down in ‘Accy’ and how busy it’s become. Luckily I managed to make landfall at the nice leafy suburb of Accrington where my mate lives. I even managed to convince him that I’d got lost deliberately then I could drive past the Walmesley  arms in Great Harwood  Picture of The Walmsley Arms

Not that I ever drunk anything other than orange juice in there, it was Raasay that ‘drove me to drink’ twenty one years ago, but I did spend at least one night a week in there with my mates.

A fine chicken dinner with delicious veg was served up for me along with a glass or two of wine, after which I retired early. At least I think I retired at a reasonable hour, wine and good company can often assuage the passage of time.

The Proven in the veg patch

We were up at 6:00am and demolished a couple of Raasay sausages each prior to leaving before 7:00 on the pretence of missing the worst of the traffic. That all went ‘tits up’ when my indicators packed in as soon as we hit the first dual carriageway, so we had a twenty minute delay in the first layby whilst I fixed them, with amongst other things, a 13 amp domestic fuse, or should I say 10, but we’ll not go into that.

Having looked at our destination on both the map and Google earth I foolishly trusted to the ‘pratnav’ and got lost once more.  Still we managed to arrive at our destination around 9:30 on a beautiful sunny morn, a perfect day in fact, apart from a couple of small details. OK, a few major ones actually, since the Proven 2.5kw wind turbine had been erected some ten years ago, in what would then have been an accessible spot, ‘things’ had changed. For a start there were several raised beds underneath it, a fence between it and the anchor point, a shed, several trees, propagators and a hedge, my heart sank Sad smile This was not going to be easy, still, we were well equipped, the day was a cracker and the ground firm.

017 018

It became immediately clear that the mast was going to land on the beetroot and the turbine itself in a willow tree amongst the brambles. It could have been worse, they could have been in full leaf and it could have been raining Smile

First thing, after taking a fence down and loosening the tower bolts was to assemble the ‘gin pole’ whereupon I realized that I should have brought some steps, luckily my mate is taller than me Smile 


With the ‘gin pole’ in position the Tirfor is set up and attached to the winching block some 8 to 10m away. I brought all three of my Tirfors and was glad I did, the mast was far heavier than I envisaged, my 1.6ton would have struggled and I only packed the 3.2ton as an afterthought.


The TU32 is a bit of a beast to lug around on your own and there was certainly much ‘fetching and carrying’ amongst the veg patch.



The actual lowering was quite straight forward as I’d brought a stack of pallets to rest the mast on and after a little judicious pruning we had it down.



It was just resting on the raised beds right enough but we squashed no more than the odd brassica.


Once the turbine mast was resting firmly on its bed of pallets we removed the blades, springs, covers, slip rings, cable and brake rope from the turbine itself. The yaw rollers came next, the the grub screws that hold the top yaw bearing onto the shaft, with all those loosed the 190kg lump can be slid off with relative ease. At least it can if you take the alternator cover off and place some pallets in such a position that you can slide the whole unit along them.


We got this far in just over an hour, from here on in it got serious, the Land Rover was a good 40m away, there was a shed in the way and the winch rope is only 30m long. Not only that but we still had to split the tapered mast in two,

032 033

luckily I’d figured this was going to be ‘an issue’ so brought a grinder and generator. Even so, we wouldn’t have got the mast split had there not been a VERY substantial security fence nearby that lined up perfectly with the mast top.


034 035

Even so it was a struggle to get them apart and we still had to traverse an obstacle course to get them out.



The smaller top section was easy enough, at around 150kg we just manhandled into line with the Landy and used the 9500lb electric winch on the front bumper. However the base, coming in at around 300kg with a nice ‘anchor’ at its base was a whole different ball game but we managed to get it on the ubiquitous pallets and pull to the hard ground electrically. Once it was there we turned the ‘Old Girl’ around, hitched up the trailer and pulled it on with the small Tirfor.



By 17:30 we were ready to ‘hit the road’



and the rush hour traffic Sad smile

A couple of hours later we were in my mates house eating chilli and drinking beer, twelve hours later I was on my way north.



This time to the accompaniment of Bill Bryson and ‘A walk in the woods’



which lasted all the way to my parents house Smile


The brief glimpse of spring that I’d experienced in England came to an abrupt halt on Wednesday morning but I’ll tell you all about that tomorrow, it’s 23:00 now and my bed time.



  1. You came within 20 minutes of my house for the first time in century and you didn’t call in for a dram or 3. Tut tut!

    Comment by simon — March 6, 2014 @ 11:10 pm

    • Likewise! I bet it’s all changed a bit since you were last round here, Paul.


      Comment by Sue — March 7, 2014 @ 8:36 am

      • Hi Sue,

        I bet it’s all changed a bit since you were last round here,

        You’re not kidding !!!!!

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 7, 2014 @ 7:01 pm

  2. FFS paul,you the man,lol Is that thing going to power the new ferry aswell as the house,what an epic journey alright,,,,41 gallons of diesel and £260 odd quid,you would have got a heck o a lot of Green Shield Stamps for that wee jount.

    Comment by willie — March 7, 2014 @ 3:20 am

    • Hi Willie,

      dunno where you get your diesel from but I made it more like £320 😦 😦 plus, of course the £30 for the fuel cap that I left in Carlile 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 7, 2014 @ 7:10 pm

      • Was that at the 24H Tesco just off junction 43? I once left a filler cap on a pump in Belgium, a friendly cyclist pointed it out to me 500 yards down the road. Modern cars with locking caps that keep hold of the key make it easier to remember. My latest even has a handy hook on the cover flap to hang the keyring off.

        Comment by Phil Cook — March 7, 2014 @ 7:43 pm

  3. Probably my favourite trip in the whole world is up/down the A82, magical road. Is the graffiti on the approach to the glencoe stretch still there ‘Settlers out Rennies in’

    Comment by Alistair — March 7, 2014 @ 9:31 am

    • Hi Alistair,

      ‘Settlers out Rennies in’ 🙂 I’ve missed that one.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 7, 2014 @ 7:00 pm

      • I t was somewhere near glencoe I think, Some one had sprayed the usual ‘white settlers out’ on the back of a road sign but then someone had then sprayed Rennies in. It always made me laugh when I saw it driving up the road, it was 20 yrs ago though probably long gone.

        Comment by Alistair — March 8, 2014 @ 8:08 pm

  4. Awesome job! Good luck making good use out of it.

    Comment by mick — March 7, 2014 @ 11:51 am

    • Cheers Mick, I’ve already started the foundations 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 7, 2014 @ 6:58 pm

  5. Goodness me! Paul, I’m exhausted just reading of the ‘removal’ work. Good job you plan ahead and take the right kit with you – including a long lost mate! You’re a fine example of how to ‘get a job done’… I wonder if it could rub off on me? 🙂

    Comment by Carrie — March 7, 2014 @ 2:35 pm

    • Hi Carrie,
      true pals are like family and I’ve got a big one 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 7, 2014 @ 6:58 pm

  6. It’s tiring just reading it. Nice job Paul.

    Comment by Andrew — March 7, 2014 @ 2:53 pm

    • Cheers Andrew,
      it was an extremely satisfying trip, that I couldn’t have pulled off without my mates, one whom I’ve not seen in years, another who’s passed away and of course my builder who lent me his trailer. My departed pal ‘Grumpy Pete’ died five years ago but most of my tools came from him and I can’t break a rock or cut a piece of steel without thinking of him 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 7, 2014 @ 6:55 pm

  7. Paul it’s a good job you didn’t mention the broccoli, or I would have to mention the jumper the wallet the penknife and the shampoo. Oh not forgetting the trailer safety chain. You don’t know how lucky you are.

    Comment by MW — March 7, 2014 @ 6:00 pm

    • Hi MW and thanks for all the help and broccoli 🙂

      I would have to mention the jumper the wallet the penknife and the shampoo. Oh not forgetting the trailer safety chain. and the diesel filler cap 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 7, 2014 @ 6:49 pm

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