25th September 2018
Given that some of the family and friends were already in Kintail, it seemed opportune for us to get over to Raasay for a visit. Our grandmother Rachel MacLeod came from Oskaig on the island and we had visited as children on a number of occasions whilst holidaying in Skye to see our great aunt Kate who eventually lived to be one hundred years old.
I had not been on Raasay since 1995 and sister Rachel had not visited since the 1970s. Needless to say this also provided an opportunity for a member of the next generation (Dave) to visit for the first time along with Brian, Stewart, Irene and Sophie, who had not been on the island before. Donald and Lorna are regular visitors and knew their way around which would prove useful on a tight schedule.
It was pretty dull as we made our way over on the 1125 ferry but cleared up as soon as we got out of the car to walk along the east coast to Hallaig. We had excellent views over to Applecross on the mainland and arriving at Hallaig (past a herd of cows on a tight path!) we had great coastline views with a waterfall in full flow whilst Dun Caan towered over us. Check out the photos! There is a cairn to the poem 'Hallaig' by the famous gaelic poet Sorley MacLean (no relation), which was ideal for a group photograph.
We retraced our steps to visit the family homeland of Oskaig township on the west coast. Sadly we have no close relatives living there, but it brough back memories of childhood visits.
Next stop was Calum's Road. I feel inadequate to fully describe this feat of human endeavour so would refer you to the book Calum's Road by Roger Hutchinson and published by Birlinn. Briefly it is a physical monument to one man's tenacity. Calum MacLeod (who is a distant relative) built a road of one and three quarter miles long single handedly up in the north end of the island over a period of ten years, after the authorities had repeatedly refused to undertake the responsibility. Calum was described vividly as 'someone who raged against the dying of the light.' His endeavour proved too late in maintaining the population in that part of the island who gradually moved out until he was the last man there.
On the way up north toward the road we saw three white tailed sea eagles and a golden eagle within a ten minute period. Amazing, but not easy to capture in photos!
We saw Rainy's Wall, built to keep the population out and fence in deer and sheep in the 19th century and the stone built fank to the left of it. There is a cairn to Calum' road and the ruined Brochel Castle is also up in that part of the island. I have taken some photos of the road but you really need to traverse it to apprciate the work that went into it.
I caught a brief glimpse of Torran Schoolhouse as time was running tight for the ferry. When dad was minister in Portree he used to get the ferry to Raasay from Portree and then got a lift from the pier to the start of Calum's Road which was just a track in the 1950s. He then walked over Calum's Road, in hail, rain, snow, wind or whatever, and took the service, stopping for a brief plate of soup at Calum's before retracing his steps back to Portree, all on the same day. He once told me 'I was fit in these days!'
We caught the 1700 ferry back to the mainland, stopping for a meal in the faded grandeur of the Kyle of Lochalsh Hotel on the way home to Kintail.
All in all a memorable day out. Thanks to Donald and Lorna for sharing their knowledge of the island. Hope you enjoy the photos.
All the best.