Life at the end of the road

August 3, 2018

Very educational :-)

Filed under: animals, boats, daily doings, food, stonework — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:49 pm

Well, that’s it, just spoke to Angus Campbell at Kilda Cruises and it looks like we’re ‘good to go’ Smile Methinks that with a westerly F4/5 forecast it’s gonna be pretty lumpy right enough but I’ve no mentioned that to the girls yet Smile St Kilda is 40 odd miles out into the Atlantic Ocean so exposed to say the least.

Orca III at Rockall Hirta

However, Angus operates two extremely fast, safe and serious craft for his trips out there. A Safehaven Wildcat 53 and Interceptor 55 both of the highest spec.

Anyway, today, unfortunately was a ‘none diving’ day spent exploring the west side of Lewis and very enjoyable it was too. By the time the rest of the team had surfaced and we’d breakfasted it was well after 10:00am and my lips were sore from biting them. Me, I like to get up early and get on with stuff, had it been up to me we’d have been finishing our first dive by that time, not just thinking of where to go Smile Still it’s their holiday as well as mine and I’ve done all this stuff before, so after reluctantly leaving the Searider behind we headed off to the broch at Dun Carloway.

IMG_0678 IMG_0679 IMG_0677

Sure, I’ve been to many brochs, there’s even one on Raasay but this one, along with Mousa on Shetland and the one at Glenelg have to be the finest. They seem to be a truly Scottish phenomenon and if the archaeologists are honest with themselves not much is known about the people that built them or the reason why they’re so similar.  Over 500 of these structures have been found throughout Scotland, predominantly in Shetland, Orkney, the Western Isles and around the north and west coasts. By far the best preserved being the one at Mousa off Shetland then Glenelg but Dun Carloway is pretty impressive too.


As are some of the more modern ‘black house’ nearby, no doubt built with stones from the broch, recycling on an epic scale so to speak Smile

After that we drove a few miles north west to Gearrannan black house village


Which, beyond all expectations proved to be absolutely riveting, I kid you not. I had been before and guess it must have been closed so I spent most of my time inspecting the 3 Proven/Kingspan wind turbines nearby. However today it was fully open and we must have spent a couple of hours there.

 IMG_0683 IMG_0684 IMG_0685

The highlight being watching a chap weave some Harris Tweed on a century old loom. Me, I was pure fascinated by this for you had what must have been (in its time) the height of technology inserted in what was basically a mud hut in the middle of nowhere. Can you even imagine getting one of these things from Keighley in Yorkshire to Lewis 100 years ago. The thing must have cost several years wages.

IMG_0686 IMG_0687 IMG_0688

To all intents and purposes this thing was a cast iron computer and required an operator with extreme dexterity and skill, it was boodly amazing Smile

And, as if that wasn’t enough antiquarian technology our next ‘port of call’ was a Norse mill and kiln at Shawbost.

IMG_0691 IMG_0692

Now this truly was a marvel and allegedly pre dates the Vikings, not at this particular site but in China where these have been in use for millennia.

 IMG_0693 IMG_0694 IMG_0695

Water was directed down that channel to turn the paddles below then exited from that square hole. the image on the right is the pit from the building in the foreground where the fire was lit to dry the grain.

Next stop was the Trussel stone at Barvas and it’s guard dog.

IMG_0701 IMG_0703 IMG_0704

Apparently the tallest standing stone in Scotland and the dog had an extra claw on its hind legs too Smile 

After that it was off to Port of Ness

DSCN0373 DSCN0374

and then the Butt of Lewis,

DSCN0375 DSCN0376 DSCN0377

which quite bizarrely is the best spot I’ve ever found for edible field mushrooms. Not sure if they’re St Georges shrooms, field shrooms or horse shrooms but I’ll be having them for breakfast tomorrow Smile

Off to the ‘SS Stassa’

Filed under: Avon Searider, boats, daily doings — Tags: , , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:06 am

Almost 21:00 now and methinks I’ll be finishing this tomorrow. I’ll be on me second glass of Chilean Merlot having made dinner and pumped up the diving cylinders from today’s epic plunge on the SS Stassa.

DSCN0372 DSCN0371

Having previously made a 16 to 13 amp conversion lead for the trusty Bauer Utilus 10B compressor that’s been filling my diving cylinders since 1985. I bought this fine bit of German kit new over thirty years ago and for most of that time its ‘prime mover’ was a Honda G200 petrol engine. I chose the petrol engine over electric motor because for most of its life it lived on my boat and would be filling three cylinders a day, six days a week. However, latterly I’ve been using a 2Kw electric motor which has many advantages over petrol.

For a start it’s a helluva lot quieter and cheaper to run, it’s also safer cos there’s no chance of any noxious fumes from the exhaust contaminating your breathing air. Sure you can’t take it where there’s no electricity right enough and it’s right on the limit for a 13amp plug but all in all a far better option.

 Friday Morning

Sure enough, fell asleep at the wheel last night and never managed any blogging so here goes. It’s 8:30 already, we had a great day yesterday but who knows when the rest of the team will arise, they are not blessed with my love of the early mornings Smile It was well after 10:00am when we departed Ranish yesterday Sad smile 

The SS Stassa

We headed down to Leverburgh at the southern end of Harris, a township that acquired it’s very un Hebridean name from Lord Leverhume,_1st_Viscount_Leverhulme  who once owned Harris and Lewis. The ‘Soap man’ as he was known had great fondness for these parts but I know little of him yet cos I’ve not read Roger Hutchinson’s book yet Not sure his fondness was reciprocated universally right enough but he certainly pumped an awful lot of his considerable wealth into the area before dying. I shall read that book as soon as I’ve finished his excellent tome about St Kilda. We are booked on a boat to visit ‘The edge of the world’ tomorrow, that is of course ‘weather permitting’ but it’s looking good right now. Well perhaps not good but doable, forecast is westerly F4/5 which will be pretty lumpy I guess Sad smile

    DSCN0347 DSCN0349 DSCN0350

I just love Leverburgh, it looks so ‘used and lived in’ with lots of fishing gear strewn about the place and great ‘fast food outlet’ in the ‘Butty Bus‘

Forgot to take a picture in the excitement so lifted this one off someone else’s blog.

Ross and I launched the Searider and set off for Loch Rodel  ‘just around the corner’ so to speak. The girls took the car and went to visit St Clements church,_Rodel which even a pure heathen like me finds beauty and comfort in.


Not that Ross and I saw much of it through the mist from the boat in Loch Rodel, that first image being lifted from Wikipedia Smile

DSCN0360 DSCN0353 DSCN0354


With all our electronic wizardry we soon found the wreck which lies at the head of the Loch in 23m of water sitting some 10m proud of the seabed in places.

The Panamanian registered SS Stassa managed to hit Harris on a fine summers day and was towed into the shelter of Loch Rodel by the lifeboat. She dropped anchor there but sank four days later, taking so long because her cargo of wood was keeping her afloat.

 stassa 1

Some of it is still in the holds today, but much of it was ‘liberated’ Smile I guess there are a few sheds in Harris made from Stassa timber hey.

stassa 2

After our excellent visit to the Stassa’s  watery grave we hauled up the anchor and headed towards Rodel harbour but the tide was too low to get in.

DSCN0363 DSCN0364 DSCN0366

Not only that but the hotel was closed for renovation so we turned about for Leverburgh and home.

DSCN0368 DSCN0369

Wife and child recovered the boat, the ‘Butty Bus’ was closed so we got chips from another outlet and called it a day Smile

Create a free website or blog at