I’ve always wanted to go to Raasay: it’s something about its love of repeated vowels, and the fact that it is a lovely place. A friend’s son spent most of his geography degree on the island so it obviously has nerd appeal too. And with yet another beautiful day forecast it was easy to tempt the Missus over: and I had a special cycling treat in store for her…
The ferry over was lovely, except that it arrived at the wrong place on the island. Clearly some changes had taken place since my 1985 edition of the OS map! And a look at the new ferry terminals at either end indicate that serious money was involved too: we approved. Now Jazz is a bit of a Calmac groupie but she was particularly impressed with this one: the ticket chap was very friendly as if our decision to use his ferry just made his day 1.
On arriving at Raasay the Missus headed off on her cycling treat. At the north end of the island is Calum's Road: a one-man effort to create a road to the north end created by pick, shovel and wheel-barrow. Obviously she had to cycle that! It was only after she had headed off that I read that Raasay is Gaelic for “Place with gratuitously steep roads” 2. Apparently up there 1:4 is regarded as a “slight incline”. Such a pity that Jazz wouldn’t get that far north, as instead we are going to do a circuit that involves climbing the highest point on the island: Dun Caan 3. It is only 443m high but looks like a kid’s view of a volcano and must surely have a stonking view.
After a saunter through the sleepy metropolis of Inverarish (pop. c100) we head through some woodland past ruined iron mines to get onto the Burma Road. Although this took a lot of manual effort to make (hence the name), it was a great path and I had visions of an enjoyable wander all the way to the top. Sadly it soon stopped and classic squelchy path continued with the midges joining us. I had just commented to Jazz that wildlife was in short supply when I heard some Ravens calling overhead: hey, something interesting! On looking up I discovered them and saw that they were mobbing a Golden Eagle: now we are talking!
The “path” eventually gets to the foot of the hill. It is now we see that it is actually quite steep with rocky bits. Mr Vertigo has a word and advises caution. However, we get closer and see the path does some hair-pins and we make it to the top without (too much) trouble. The non-standard OS trig-point 4 beckons but as it is on the top of the cliff on the east side I do a “touch-and-retreat” before sitting to have lunch and a staggering 360° view: the Cuillins on Skye obviously dominate, but we also have the Kintail mountains, then Applecross, then Torridon, and then back to Skye’s Trotternish ridge. My jaw had to be manually restored to normal position.
It’s then back down to the lochan at the base before taking the “tourist” path that heads NW to reach the road that we’ll follow back to the ferry. It’s a lovely road but the makers obviously were off the day they did “contour following” in road-building class – it’s a real roller-coaster. But the wander back is lovely with little traffic and the great view back to Skye. And at the ferry we rejoin the Missus and hear about her treat: apparently Calum was off the day they did “contour following” too…
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