Life at the end of the road

April 4, 2022

The frog filter :-)

To be honest the thoroughly miserable day that was Monday the 4th of April was perfect for what I was doing today, well so long as you exclude walking Bonzo but he didn’t seem to mind  the rain. Which was the first thing I did after my third cup of coffee and updating the blog, after that it was into the shed to construct a filter for my Mate’s Harris turbine https://harrismicrohydro.com/ intake.

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The turbine which draws water from a loch down a 63mm MDPE penstock some 700m long with 90m head only uses a 4mm jet and very little water to produce enough power to run his house. However of late we’ve been experiencing a frog epidemic. Well three or four blockages in as many weeks and as we’ve only had three or four previous frog or newt blockages in 12 or so years I reckon a new filter was needed. The original one being made from a steel quarry screen for riddling fine stones cos it was all I had at the time. I had intended it to only be a temporary measure so it was about 10 years overdue changing anyway. Sadly the one I spent all morning making is in a similar vein as I couldn’t find any stainless steel so had to settle for some 1mm perforated galvanised steel with 2mm holes. However this time I WILL order some of the right stuff Smile The piece I found just needed trimming on one side to make it 500mm x 1000mm, my original plan being to wrap it around and weld it to some old brake discs that would ensure the filter didn’t move.

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However I quickly abandoned that idea when I felt the weight of it and realized I’d be carrying half a mile over a hill Sad smile Instead I used a brake disc as a template to cut two ends out of an old piece of ‘stock board’ a materiel made from recycled plastic that’s used in fish farming and agriculture. Its about 13mm thick very durable and easy to work with woodworking tools.

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Once I’d had my lunch I donned my dry suit, loaded my filter and tools onto the back of the quad and headed to Torran.

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My first stop being the turbine itself which I intended to switch off, but alas it had claimed yet another frog since yesterday Sad smile I turned the valve off anyway and took the perilous path up to Pipers Rock.

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Well I never used to think it was such a big deal in the past but with age one gets more cautious Smile The normally spectacular views of Skye, Fladda, Loch Arnish and even Dun Caan and the Brochel lochs being lost in the murk. Even the houses and crofts of South Arnish being shrouded in gloom. Leaving the quad by the boundary fence I loaded my gear and set off eastwards along the fence toward Loch nan Dubhan. The weather may have been miserable for photography but in my diving suit at least I was dry and not sweating or overheating as normally would be the case.

I thought I had it tough

Not far to the east of the gate there lies and old sheep fank complete with a sheep dip dug into the ground and lined with stone Surprised smile 

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The dipping trough itself is just east of these two pens

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the sheep would be herded down between these two walls down a slope into the dip.

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You can still see the stone retaining walls and base but the nearest water available to fill it would have to carried in buckets several hundred yards Surprised smile Thinking about that I grabbed my filter and walked off to the loch thinking how easy life is these days compared to back then.

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My task seemed a lot less onerous and pretty soon I was in Loch nan Dubhan fitting the new filter.

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The old one having rotted away completely Surprised smile

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Then it was back west to the quad past some remains of the old boundary wall that existed long before the fence I was following.

Once at the quad I set off gingerly down the hill and turned on the hydro turbine before heading home to feed the dugs whom I’d left behind for fear of loosing control on the track up to Pipers Rock Smile

October 25, 2021

The return of ‘The office’ :-)

Filed under: daily doings, food, pigs — Tags: , , , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 7:47 pm

When I got up this morning around 6:00AM the good ship Hallaig had just departed Oban’s North pier, less than 11 hours later and she’s back alongside the Raasay pier from where she departed over a month ago. If she wasn’t ‘back on service’ today (which I doubt) she’ll be plying her home route tomorrow and I for one will be glad to have her back. At least now I’ll be able to set off for the ferry half an hour before sailing and still be pretty certain of getting on. With the poor old MV Loch Tarbert it was far from a certainty so important appointments off the island meant me leaving Arnish an hour before sailing to be guaranteed getting on the ferry. 

The first perambulation with Bonzo was just a short walk through the woods and back up the Torran track to home. I’d not planned staying out long as it was pishing down so never took a mushroom bag. They were getting quite thin on the ground in the area I was heading anyway. So, I was most surprised to find a nice little clump of hedgehogs almost as soon as I cut into the birch wood.

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Not only are hedgehogs delicious but they remain firm even in the pishing rain, appear late in the season and are fairly ‘idiot proof’ as regards identification. The tiny ‘spines’ on their underside which give them their being as far as I know (amongst UK mushrooms) unique. Luckily I had a rag in my pocket that I turned into a bag and with my parcel in hand wandered deeper into the wood.

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I had a sow once that chose to have a litter of 13 piglets up here in February one year! There was snow on the ground yet she’d made a nest in a little hollow atop this cliff. Sure it was a nice view but a long way from home for me to feed her! I ended up cutting some branches and trees down so I could the quad up there carrying food and water her Smile

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Continuing down through the trees following deer tracks I manged to loose Bonzo, nothing fresh with that but I heard some muffled yelping and found him in amongst the rocks trying to extricate some creature form within.

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I dunno what it was but it was in that hole and I left him to it figuring he’d get fed up eventually, sure enough, he somehow managed to arrive home before me Smile

Once back inside my toasty house and after sharing my muesli with Bonzo, Molly being stuck in the back of the car refusing to come out. I went back out to make a few adjustments to my diff lock selector which had stuck in the locked position. Unusually I managed to achieve this simply and with no drama, so with the morning brightening up I went over the hill to Tarbert and beyond with my ever bouncy Bonzo.

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The houses on Fladda and Holm Island off Skye taken from near ‘the Hill of the Hind’ above Tarbert.

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Some suicidal sheep that must have wandered north across the cattle grid at Brochel.

It used to be a jam jar

Lunch consisting of the last two rashers of home cured bacon was followed by trip to Torran to weigh up a task I was planning for day or so later this week.

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It involves some large pieces of timber to make a frame that needs bolted into a concrete pad and Scotland. For carrying the 4m plus timbers along the track I’d need to make up a frame for the Mule. The drilling and bonding into the founds would need resin and various threaded bar and tools all of which I needed to gather together in readiness for a weather window. With that done I took the quad up to Pipers Rock and beyond for no other reason than, I felt like it and the views are amazing, well they were when I left the Torran Schoolhouse Smile

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By the time I got up there it wasn’t so nice Sad smile

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The Pipers rock is that buttress on the left, the centre pick is taken from the T junction where the path to Fladda splits off from the path to Kyle Rona and Umachan. The well is just before the junction and some kind soul has replaced the jam jar with a proper cup complete with string Smile The water tastes divine, far better than mine and light years ahead of the stuff you get out of a regular tap Smile If you ever happen to be in the area the well which certainly has a name is about 200m before the junction to Fladda on your right about 25m off the path.

Once back home I set about making a frame for the back of the Mule so we’d be able to carry the timber on the roof.

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A few bits of timber cut to length and an old repurposed and shortened Discover ladder rack did the trick.

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That was it really, fed the pigs then came in and fed myself venison and mushrooms cooked in white wine and garlic.

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