Twenty five years I’ve lived here at the north end of Raasay and barely one of them has passed by without me having some kind of rock moving project on the go. It must be an Arnish thing, possibly something in the water or gas leaching out of the rock, radon perhaps. Whatever it is the north end of Raasay seems to have spawned many fine masons and road builders. Not that I put myself in that category, but I have shifted hundreds of tons of rock in my time here, something I’d never felt the urge to do in my previous incarnation in the toon. I guess that was because the council did it all for me and you didn’t require wellingtons to walk anywhere in Accrington.
I can’t find it now because we don’t have Roger Hutchinson’s book handy http://www.amazon.co.uk/Calums-Road-Roger-Hutchinson/dp/1841586773 but a passage in it came to mind today. The marvellous tome about Calum Macleod, who’s family hailed from my house and whom lived on the croft opposite recalls, amongst other things, an encounter. Like I say I don’t have it handy but I remember Roger speaking of meeting Calum whilst he was digging out some hardcore and getting pretty enthused about it. Well, I know how he felt, for today, after 25 years I’ve found the ‘mother lode’ of road building finings.
There is no shortage of rock at the north end of Raasay, indeed it’s many and varied formations provide geologists with everything from recent shale and boulder clay to the three billion year old gneiss that followed creation. What it does lack however is nice regular sized aggregates in the same place and near the road. It’s never stopped me in the past right enough and I’ve built many a path and road using rock of all sizes and from all over the island.
However, the small quarry that I’ve been burrowing into this last few days has proved to be a pure ‘Klondike’ of road building material and once more I was up at an insane hour and digging away furiously.
Managing to get a trailer full spread and compacted before feeding Izzy, Bizzy, Dick,Tracy and 90 hens.
It was only then when I headed for my second load that the true grandeur of the day hit me.
Deer on the hill, porpoises in the loch, grouse on the moor and mist rolling down the Storr,
not to mention my ‘glory hole’.
OK, perhaps not on such a grand scale as the one at Glensanda http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glensanda
Cross section of Glensanda showing the glory hole method of working.
To reduce the visual impact of the quarry it was decided to employ the "Glory Hole" method of quarrying. This involved driving a tunnel into a hillside to a point beneath the area to be worked and then making a shaft, the glory hole, up to the quarry above. The excavated stone would then processed by a primary crusher before being tipped into the hole, from the base of which it would be carried along the tunnel on a conveyor belt to a primary stockpile immediately behind the main plant. In the plant area it could then be further reduced by secondary and tertiary crushers, and screened before being directed to the appropriate storage bins ready for shipping. The great advantage of this method for the Glensanda proposal was that the quarry would be hidden from view and the process of moving the stone down to the shore almost invisible, taking place inside the mountain.
I reckon that it must have been a river bed at one time judging by the shape and size of the stones. I’ve had a lot of experience lately in river beds and the gravel and stones look just like this
This will be a little of that ‘experience’ later in the day repairing my mates water supply, tomorrow I’ll be in my mum’s river repairing hers
Anyway, back to the ‘rock and road’,
OK, road is probably a bit grand but it’s wide enough for the Land Rover and I got it laid to the end of the Terram 1000.
I have to say that I’m severely ‘chuffed’ with my labours, well not just me, the Dude and sister in law did more than a little rock shifting and bashing too.
Dick and Tracy turned up at the new house and threatened to start digging up my lovely road, mainly because part of it was laid over some of the hen house sweepings. I dunno whether it’s the hen pooh or the morsels of feed in it but both the birds and pigs seem to love digging into it. A bucket full of stones rattled in front of them aided me in leading them back onto the croft, whereupon I shut them in, for good! The next time Dick and Tracy leave the croft it will be to the ‘sausage factory’
It has in short been a very busy, productive and satisfying day, a fitting end to the fortnight off, for tomorrow I’ll be back on Hallaig for a rest I was still ‘at it’ until 18:30 right enough, which may not seem particularly late but my clock thinks it’s 19:30 and I’d still ‘shed loads’ to do in the house.
It really did look like this
It was whilst busying myself filling bins, shooting crows, or should I say ‘shooting at crows’ that I noticed a pink hue to the west and heard the post van approach.
The next 10 or 15 minutes was better than any firework display and probably as good as the aurora borealis that I missed last night.
Sometimes you just have to stop what you’re doing and watch.