Visit to Eilean Tighe

Sunday the 14th June, another beautiful day. First thing a run down to Fladda on the RIB to see the neighbours, all well there and back to Base. The weather was stunning so instead of putting in another working day we decided to take a few hours out and explore Eilean Tighe. I had not been down and landed there for many years so it was a nice easy decision to make. We fueled up the Voe boat, checked the anchor ( I never use it) and off we went. We took the dinghy, dropped the anchor in the ford (Caolas) between Raasay and Eilean Tighe , the tide was in and we rowed ashore, first stop Julia’s house.

The Eilean Tighe to Raasay Ford.

There was a bit of movement on the water with seabirds about, the Sea Eagle was flying around and took off from the North side where he has a perch on the cliff . I have since heard from Julia herself about a special rock in that general area which is magnetic . So I asked my Geologist friend (Duncan MacSwann Article) Dick Selley about it and here is his thorough answer.

“Yes, all over Rona you will see occasional bands of black crystalline rock. These are intrusions of magma termed basalt if finely crystalline or dolerite if coarsely crystalline. Some are coeval with the metamorphism of the Lewisian gneiss. The NW-SE aligned vertical black intrusions however are related to the Tertiary (circa 60 million yeas ago) volcanic centre of the Cuillins. These black rocks are rich in iron and are thus magnetic. This is why in the old days before GPS geologists and climbers would never rely on compass bearings around the black Cuillins or indeed many other parts of Skye & Raasay.”

Dick Selley
Emeritus Professor of Petroleum Geology & Senior Research Fellow
Department of Earth Science & Engineering,
Royal School of Mines
Imperial College, London

Which was one of the reasons for me to take a long planned visit to the East Side of Skye last Sunday.

Butterfly or Moth?

It was a very hot day, too hot for climbing the highest point but that was the intention. The grass was alive with bugs, butterflies but no midgies it was too hot. I expected to see deer up top but despite big wallows and lots of tracks there was nothing hanging about, no doubt they were on Raasay looking for water, there did not seem to be much of it for them on Eilean Tighe.

Julia’s House

I’m always fascinated by Julia’s house. Our good friend Julia MacKenzie who at 97 years of age lives in Inverness, she has been an inspiration to us here as long as I have lived on Rona and on regular telephone calls I enjoy hearing stories about the times that herself and her family lived here. Her book “Whirlygig Beatles and Tackety Boots” is out of print but I will blog about it soon, for me an important wee book with much on her times there.

Julia’s House Wonderful Stone

The first time I saw this house I wondered at the skill in building these houses at that time. The stonework is fascinating how the natural shapes come together, of course a lot of these houses would have had a covering, looking at this one I can see shell sand mortar in some corners and crannies, I must check with Julia on that.

Julia’s House Craftsmanship

The perfectly curved outer corners are at complete odds with the perfectly square inner walls. Such a pity that these houses are all falling apart. But time will do that for sure with no one living there anymore. Check the remains of what looks like a plaster still clinging to odd corners. Washed off after years of rain.

Julia’s House, Eleven Folk lived Here

In her book Julia talks about how her maternal Grandfather originally lived there, after her Grandmother died her Mother and Father went to live there with their family.

Round Corners Outside, Perfectly Square Corners on the Inside.

They then spent nine years there before moving two miles onto Raasay to the croft (Farm) at Kyle Rona.

The Fireplace weighs?

As in Rona, many of the fireplace stones are huge, this one no exception, there is one almost identical at the old schoolhouse on Rona at Doire na Guaile (Doire na Guaileadhin). I wonder what it weighs and how they got it there.

The Fields Now Overgrown

When speaking with Julia I usually have many questions, she always says it is in her  book!!! But some things are not and when you see everything overgrown you have to use your imagination to wonder how it all worked. The abandoned homes must have been a very different picture with all the activity. I wonder what the picture would have looked like in the early 1900’s?

Fladda From Eilean Tighe

The view from the top of the highest hill was stunning that day, looking right down the Sound of Raasay to the entrance to Portree harbour, so close but not that accessible due to the weather and although we have enjoyed many good days this year, we have in the past struggled to get over especially in the winter. Reading some of the Rona history lately I was intrigued reading about the ‘Dewer Report, 1912’ where a Mr Graham from Rona was asked about mail. He said that they had a mail delivery three times a week but only once a week (maybe) in Winter. 2020 we enjoy a weekly delivery!!!!

The North East of Skye Looking to Duntulm

Looking out to the North of Skye and over the Minch to Harris it was fascinating to not see one boat. The Range boat had just passed, there must have been a trial on. But once that passed and the trail of smoke from its funnel disappeared round the Crowlins there was nothing. On one of the best Sundays so far this year, very strange and unusual but it should be no surprise with Covid 19 at its peak around then.

Big Harbour Entrance

Looking over to the mouth of Big Harbour I could clearly see the arrow painted on the left hand side of the entrance. Often we see yachts/boats sailing past then 20 minutes later they come in, but they never admit to missing it.

Eilean Tighe from The High Hill and the North End of Raasay

Looking down to the end of Raasay the perspective is good to see and I wonder at Julia and her sister taking off for School at Torran. I seem to remember that Julia and her Sister would walk there, one 7 the other 4 years old, again it is in the Book!!

Rona

My final view was of Rona itself, not a lot to it but a wonderful place to live.

Garbh Eilean and the Gap/Kyle Rona.

On the way down I stopped to spy over to Garbh Eilean, the stags winter there and I could clearly see them lying at the very top with their Velvet Antlers taking in the view and getting away from the flies. It is very green in the middle of this ‘Wee’ Island and there is a spring that provides running water. I often wonder if the Vikings were here and used it as a look out, had it been used before for some purpose. There are no ruins on Garbh Eilean but this very green patch in the centre would tell a tale if it was surveyed I guess.

Over many years gulls nested here then very slowly they started to diminish eventually disappearing, was it the lack of food at a critical time, I have a photo of many young gulls waiting at the shore for food. It did not register at the time but the following year I paid a little more attention and I guessed they were waiting for sand eels or small fish passing. There were so many of them that I think the Mink would have had to be very busy to wipe them out but I did shoot a mink  there by chance one day.

That Fireplace Again/How Did You Lift That.

The Witches Rowan.

I’m not much up on “flora’, Stephen Bungard at Raasay has a blog and if you are interested it is worth a browse, I often see a Rowan outside or near houses, a lot of them on Rona and now Eilean Tighe have had their day and are now rotten, falling down. With sheep and deer fat chance of regenerating a new one but they are there, generally not round houses now. I am told they were there to ward of witches and when I was working in Forestry we would avoid felling one, bad luck we were told!!

Rosa Canina on Eilean Tighe

A single Wild Rose was by the ruined boat shed? at Caolas, I noticed this morning the Wild Rose bushes here were laden with flowers which means a bumper year for rosehips, which we will turn into syrup then with a few ingredients into  ‘The Rona Cocktail’.

Finally just before leaving Eilean Tighe on a memorable visit I came across this Juniper bush/shrub. Is it a tree or a bush? On Raasay like Rona they are bushes, the sheep and deer I guess see to that although the ground is poor so perhaps that has something to do with it. But on a previous visit to Kyle Rona many years back I picked many juniper berries as we don’t seem to have many on Rona. There was an abundance of them on Raasay but not in my experience so plentiful on Rona.

Much to wonder about and much to contemplate. Next calm and sunny Sunday we hope to visit Kyle Rona, there is much to see on our doorstep.

There is a thought to re-print Julia’s book if you are interested in getting a copy let me know.

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Otters

We have many otters on Rona, they are as always quite elusive. For sure if you went out early in the morning or late at night at this time then you could and will find them. There are places where they frequent and are often seen. However the Otter although elusive has a habit of turning up at the top of the tide during the day  and fishing around the harbour in broad daylight. Much to the surprise of the yachties sitting in their wheelhouses at anchor. In this series of pictures we were getting ready to go out fishing and chatting by the shore when he appeared. We got in the boat and he promptly disappeared. I decided not to go fishing and tied up the boat and as I walked past the end of the pier he appeared again. I then lay down and watched him for half an hour but sadly he did not venture out of the water this time, he had small pickings but if he had found a fish he would have come out. Better luck next time.

The Sandpiper

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Sunday Outing to the East Coast of Skye

For many years I’ve planned to return to Beareraig Bay and sail up from Holm to the Kilt Rock. I sailed over here about 8 to ten years ago it was a beautiful day but I had no camera. The rocks and landscape are very special, not many tourists see it from this angle and often they pass it but only look out for the Old Man of Storr.

Holm Island

I had Calum with me who is very acquaint with this area having sailed and fished there many times over the years, so it was a bit of a tourist day out with my own guide.

I was fascinated to take time to look at the Generating station at Beareraig . I’d been told about the railway there and it was interesting to see it at last.

My Old friends  Ronnie,  Fraser MacDonald from Dingwall (HEB) used to visit this area often for work and tell many stories about it when I lived in Maryburgh, at last I could take time to take them in. A fascinating place.The rock formations and geology were quite breathtaking, to sail slowly along the coast, it would have been good to go ashore and spend more time here and there but the rain had other ideas. We went ashore at Rigg to see the rocks close up and to look for a landing stage where I could pick up friends. I was surprised to see how much erosion there was. We landed by an old Salmon station I guess and the sea was slowly claiming it back.

This cliff face had certainly changed since Calum’s last visit and with the rockfall we were able to see the signs of fossils in quite a few of the rocks. It is quite overwhelming to stand there and to take in just how old the geology here is.There were many Belemnites and a few Ammonites nice to see them and wonder. More time in the near future and the rain not soaking the camera and there could have been some interesting finds. Next calm day!!!!If my camera has survived to-day’s soaking.The landing at Rigg was as Calum predicted, a natural pier. I have some friends coming from this area and had a thought to zip over and pick them up there. A wee scramble over the rocks and we will be good to go. A good Recce. A surprise when concentrating on finding fossils to see a ‘Burnet Moth’, on the shore resting on a rock, we see them on Rona occasionally but not for a long time. The red spots stuck out on a grey morning, lovely to see but am thinking the weather was not so good for it. The beach stones were also fascinating, we do not have many round stone beaches on Rona and certainly not any as interesting and colourful as this. Again if we had more time it would have been nice to stay. As it happened before we could go any further the rain really came on and with a very wet camera it was time to pull out. We had a big pod of Dolphins on the way home always a pleasure to see not so sure about the newfishfarm (camera and phone now too wet for a picture) off Rigg. I wonder how it will get on during the Northerly storms, although there were many anchors and rope about!Which reminds me that on arriving at Beareraig the first thing we saw was a fresh salmon jumping out of the water, the second a Sea Eagle with what we thought an Oystercatchers chick but it may have been a fish, whatever, it was a kill. Ten minutes later the Male Sea Eagle flew out from the shore in front of us. All in all a great trip out on a wet Sunday  morning.

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The Weather

We are making venison burgers this morning, a morning inside. We have an order for ‘The Lower Deck’ Chippy, down on Pier Road. So it is not a bad day to be doing that inside when it is showery and a little grey. It will improve to-day with yesterday and last night welcome rain passing South. So in the meantime a quick post on the weather.

It has probably been the best weather for sailing or anything this year so far as long as I can remember. We’ve managed to get so much done because the weather has been kind but remember before the lovely spring we had 7 months of grey and rain!!

It had been hot so no surprise when the fog came. last Wednesday, Thursday.

On day two of the grey fog we went to the top of the hill to get some sun.

Sure enough just above the top of the track the sun was out and it was as always lovely to see.

Next day Friday started like this, the Marine Algae Bloom was getting brighter.

I took the RIB out to give it a run, the battery had gone flat, the bilge pump had flattened it. The he sea was so bright, it had been changing slowly these last few days from large areas but now it was all turquoise, really fascinating to see.

 

Even the harbour was wall to wall turquoise.

That night early on the clouds were shaping up to give us a really nice evening view from the house.As it got later it turned into this (I had gone up the hill with the camera by this stage).

Then back home to find a yacht sailing into the harbour (More later) and by that time it had turned into this.

So back up the hill again and more photos, I have hundred of sunset photos and they are always pleasing to take because every shot is different, no two are ever the same.

The Grand Finale before bed was this one below, possibly one of the best for a long time.

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Rona Revisited After Forty-Two Years

Here is a wee diversion from the usual day to day news on Rona. After a particularly bad weather weekend where the ‘Bad Weather’ forecast by the Beeb was one of the worst storms here this year. Very strong winds and torrential rain.

To-day a West Coast Sunday Grey Day.

Rona Flyover

Last year we had a visitor who had last been on Rona in 1963,
Richard  Selley from Dorking in Surrey
Emeritus Professor of Petroleum Geology & Senior Research Fellow. Imperial College London.

He had let me know he was coming on a private charter with David Croy of Raasay House and was keen to give ‘Rona’ a copy of Duncan MacSwan’s article which he had. We had a copy here but there were pages missing and ours had seen a lot of handling, so I was very keen to get a clean copy.  It was a pleasure to meet him and have a short chat. His subsequent emails have filled me in on what must have been a memorable time in the late 50’s early 60’s, camping on Raasay, Rona and Scalpay, studying the Geology of the area. I quote below from one of Richard’s emails:

“I spent several summers camping and squatting in derelict crofts hammering Raasay, Fladday, Scalpay and the midge-misted mountains of Torridon, first as an undergraduate geology student in 1959 & 1960, then as a post-grad researching for a PhD between 1961- 65. I spent most of my time on Raasay camped at Brochel and Fladday. I went to Rona with the shepherds for a week in June 1963. It was then uninhabited. We stayed in the croft by the harbour. I clambered all over the Lewisian Gneiss to see if the old Geological Survey mappers had missed any overlying Torridon sandstone. They had not. We had a week of glorious dry sunny weather. On the Saturday morning that we were due to return to Fladday there was a most fearful storm. We did not expect the boatman to come, but he did. On the way back the dogs were cowering on the bottom boards and one crofter got down beside them to say his prayers. I was holding on to the mast and at one point I thought it was horizontal and I was suspended vertically from it. Anyway we got safely back to Fladday soaked to the skin and very cold. A memorable visit to Rona!

During my time on Raasay I got to know many of the people, the Fladday folk in particular. Someone, after all these years I cannot recall who, gave me the document describing a visit to Rona a copy of which I handed to you. My visit to Raasay last year with my wife and a daughter was a nostalgia trip to mark my 80th birthday. I was curious to know if there were any of the Raasay/Fladday folk still alive who knew me from 60 years ago. I got in touch with Rebecca Maccay who put me in touch with Calum Gillies from Fladday, now living in Suisnish.”

If you click on the link below you will see the article by Duncan MacSwan describing the visit he made to Rona on the 30th July 1965. It is a very poignant piece and a very worthwhile read, we are lucky to have a copy.

Rona Revisited Duncan MacSwan 

With Thanks to Richard Selley for his help and input into this article.

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Stormy Day

To-day is the ideal day for catching up on paperwork and mail, there is a gale going outside with heavy rain falling since first thing. There was an break around 8am but it has returned to grey.

The View from the Window to-day, trying to Tear the Tarp of The RIB

I’ll need to go outside and tie down the tarpaulin on the RIB, not expecting this at this time it is just slung over the boat to keep the UV off it. It must be blowing 30 knots just now so even although it is relatively sheltered it is getting worried by the wind. Even the sheep scattered from below the house just now, something must have been blown about to lift them from the shelter.

Thursday Evening Sail

Hard to believe it was like this above last night.

Thursday Evening Sail

We had some creels getting in the way of the next project. They were on the grass which had started to grow through them so rather than stack them again we put them out to see if we can catch some shellfish for ourselves. It was a lovely evening last night for it. Not a boat to be seen although there were 6 or so fishing boats out during the day.

The Quiet Harbour

No yachts though. Very strange coming into the harbour and no one there!!! A perfect evening for a G n T in the wheelhouse too!!

7am Thursday Morning

It was not so perfect at 7 am, we loaded the creels then to catch the tide, it makes for easier loading. We were promised rain and boy did it. The wind went round to the North and it was an especially bitter morning. But soon cleared and it was possibly the warmest day so far this year.

On Wednesday a Grey Trip to Portree

We went to Portree on Wednesday, it was a grey start then too, misty, murky and cool. The Coastgaurd appeared out of the mist when we were heading home, nothing to report in Portree, very quiet which still takes a bit of getting used to after the past few years.

A Quick Stop on Fladda. The First Amazon Parcel Delivered, Ever.

We had some groceries to pick up for our neighbours on Fladda, they had just arrived on the Island when the Lockdown came into force so they are stuck there, no complaints though. We dropped of their stores and Erlet was delighted to see the very first Amazon parcel to be delivered to Fladda. We had a chat, discussed the Planning application for a new fishfarm North of Fladda in Loch a Sgurr, keeping social distance of course.

Wednesday Deer Count South

Once we left them  we had the boat all up and running  so I decided to have a look South for deer from the boat.  We had done a cursory deer count this year but our helpers were unable to get to Rona for it so not it was not as thorough as the usual count. There are predominantly stags hanging about the Islands South of Rona so a count there is always worthwhile. We went ashore and came across some cast antlers and 8 stags.

Cheeky Lambs at the Early Morning Feed

On Tuesday morning I fed the sheep as usual, the lambs loving playing around this boulder but they look very miserable to-day out there all hunched up and getting very wet.

Dying at My Feet

After I fed the sheep and went up to the garage to collect something, a 30 second trip. I came back down and here was one of the Wedders lying down on its back by the shed, in the small ditch. Unable to get up it was slowly drowning (I actually thought it was dead). I sussed that one of the older Wedders had butted it in the side knocking it over, they were looking guilty as hell and this sheep gets picked on. I turned it over and stood it up but was struggling to get it steady, I called for help and we held it up for 15 minutes, it slowly cleared its lungs and became more steady. After half an hour we were able to leave it in the garden of Rona Lodge. It survived but it is amazing how quickly things can change, a narrow escape for Lorraine’s favourite sheep.

Thursday afternoon Work Walk

Yesterday afternoon I had what I call a work walk. I promised Denmark that I would send a series of pictures on what we were doing over the last few months. At 4 o’clock I got a bit of time and as the sun was splitting the Skye, the light was good I started my walk at the pier where we had put on some new decking, painted the railings at the pier, fitted new safety rails, concreted the path and then the painting.

Work Walk

I think the camera got tired of all the work as the battery ran out just after the shot of the fank fencing. Lots of painting but I’m not so sure we’ll get any done this week coming…….

 

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Lockdown -The Sequel

Flower Moon

The last of the catch up blogs! Starting way back on the 6th of May with a picture in the late evening of the Moon, Full Moon’s to-day all seem to have names, a bit like storms I guess. Back to the day job. Off to Portree on the 7th to get stores and fuel, still at a good price which was the easy bit, queuing at 7am at the door of the Co-op with a half a dozen other souls in search of an easy shop was weird but entertaining with the lady in front of me very scathing and angry with the news that the Portree Care home had an outbreak of Covid 19.

Heading Out.

Not much about on this crossing to Portree, a few Puffins, Gannets and the usual suspects, nice to see a Great Northern Diver in the Bay at Acarseid Mhor when we were leaving. Last seen last week just off the pontoon when we were concreting down the track there.

Portree Looking Quiet

The boat is now going well and the crossing takes barely 40 minutes, on a flat calm day even better. Landing in Portree at 6.30am. Quite a surreal experience, normally there is a buzz even at that time and now nothing. On the way home we had a visit from a small pod of Dolphins, they were fishing but some of them broke off for a look. Always uplifting to see them.

The New Lamb Creep

Back to the work. There was a comment came in from the blog on myself and my neighbour Paul ‘At the End of The Road’ in Arinish having a competition to see who does the most work. No competition just the way it is and if you live here it is one of the ways to enjoy the life, sadly work here takes over your life and the only way to escape it is to go away off the Island. This week we are all having ‘Down Time’, but not able to go off so we will see how that goes. We have been so busy with catching up that we have hardly taken a breath. So much so, we were getting tired (and stiff). By the way I see Paul is a bit lax on the blog like myself, just had a look, must be too much work!! ‘Life at the End of The Road’

Pet Lambs

We have more pet lambs than ever this year, with no grass, cold weather and the most ewes lambing ever it has been full on, 20 or 200 you still have to get up and go round them first thing or the predators/cliffs/bogs will get them.  I’ll save you the pictures of the remains of the two we lost to the Eagle (Sure it is a Golden rather than Sea!!), from this elevation you get a birds eye view of the Eagle passing the window just on darkness quartering the field/outrun. Thankfully he is finding food elsewhere (I hazard a guess at deer who have succumbed to the winter) and we have only lost two lambs. But with grass in short supply the Gimmers have given us problems. With a few cases of mastitis on the go this year too, it is no surprise to have to supplement the feeding and to have a twin lamb cast out. The smaller of the two above is  a gimmer’s lamb where she was not able to feed it. We nearly lost the gimmer in February to the tick. She was so badly infested it was touch and go but she has survived and in April produced this small lamb, he is coming on, growing well.

May 13th Snow on The Tops

On one of my early morning walks it was no surprise to see the hills all around with a covering of snow, it was so cold that day. Still no grass growing, still feeding the sheep with sheep nuts.

The Net Picked Up From the Shore.

The ‘Work’ goes on and tidying up the place we stretched out the net we found just on the shore up North, a fair length and I am told it is in fact a trawlers net rather than from the FishFarm. All the same better right out of the water, now what can I use that for?

Windmill Working Platform

Nothing lasts forever, this winter I was lucky to spot that the electricity was flickering, Something was Wrong! A check of the genny shed and checking the power input showed me a wavering needle on the amps input from the windmill. A quick look up there and I saw one of the springs hanging loose putting the whole thing out of balance. Thankfully I got it before it threw another and the whole thing shook itself to bits. On temporarily fixing it I was aware that the platform for servicing was rotting slowly away, here I was last week getting round to fixing it. If we get another year or two out of it we will be lucky.Onwards and upwards, the bags of 20mm mix slowly falling apart down by the shore and loosing their contents are a source of irritation. Try lifting them after they have been lying, no chance. So with some satisfaction we got a chance to fire up the pan mixer and get a little more of the pier path done.

It took a few tonnes of mix to get this far and with only 4 tonnes left, I’m not sure we will finish the job. It will be a while before we get a landing craft so we will just have to wait a little longer.

And finally this weekend I got over to the forest to put up the bird boxes I had left. I made them over the winter and yes a bit late for this years nesting (maybe second broods) but I suspect they will take a while to weather and be acceptable to the wee birdies we have. We’ll leave them to it to and keep the fingers crossed.

 

 

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Moving On – Lockdown 2

The phone has stopped (Sunday 10th May) so I’ll continue with the update. Now its Monday!!! The phone had started ringing again yesterday.

Been a tough winter on the West Coast for the animals, we are still feeding sheep and nearly into our 6th month. The wind is out of the North and will be all week, so growth will be slow. With 19 lambs and ewes on the ground, not to mention the rest of the sheep and deer the grass coming is quickly gobbled up. We need a little warmth.

We put out a bird table this year but the sheep got to it. (Previously posted).

Hungry Ewe

Then wrecked it.

So we moved it but the deer got to it.Once the hens found it we had to raise it once again. Just the chaffies and Robins now that are fighting over the grain. But it is at head height and not to handy if you walk into it!!!!

Winter Views

Back to the views, ever changing and keeping the cameras on their toes. The view from the house ‘Tigh na Creag’ just keeps changing all the time. The view to-day (Now yesterday 10th May) on yet another clear spring day but bitterly cold in the wind.

The View To-Day

Not many visitors this last while so this one was a surprise when this aircraft carrier rocked up on the Range, could be the Queen Elizabeth? Looks like it on sea trials, that was back in February.

No Planes

The work continued with better weather, early on there were signs we were going to be rid of the rain and after years of looking at a half done fence project, we set to and quickly finished it. Trees were the next problem with Scots Pine in short supply. Oh how that changed when lockdown started. I struggled to get 200 SP but managed to get some cell grown from ALBA trees. Good looking trees but they’ll struggle on Rona, they are pretty much sheltered here so fingers crossed.

At Last

A trip away to Newcastle in March to look at a new boat was interrupted by a visit to the Portree dentist. A pretty gruesome extraction was then followed by a 5 hour drive to Newcastle, not pleasant. But I would not have been fit for anything else but sitting down that two days. Needless to say the boat I saw was not for us.

Boat Launch

Back to Rona and we had a visit from Calum to connect up a second hot water tank. One had leaked in Seascape and as we bought the two together for each cottage 18 years ago it had to be worth a check. As suspected the tank was leaking.With Calum here and the season just about on us we had to put the Mooring tackle back in the water, no sense in it wearing away overwinter so we store it ashore. It was a very poor day when I went to the boat, which was ashore to check if I could get it in on the tide. It was an exceptionally high tide that morning, I found the waves were breaking over the stern of the boat and swamping the engines. I had to act fast, I could not pull it forward with the JCB but with the high tide I could easily push it into the water but just as I did this the storm really got going. The next half hour was interesting to say the least!!!! Suffice to say Callum arrived at the pontoon just in time to take my ropes. An hour later it was calm enough to put in the moorings, funny weather.

For The Yachtsmen

If the season ever starts, we have 4 moorings and they are all as new, installed last year with substantial chain, shackles and strops. All supplied by Gael Force of Inverness.

Winters Day

I see from the pictures we had a fall of snow on the 12th March but such is the weather at this time next day it was a completely different picture

12th March Afternoon, late

9.10am 13th March

A good time to plant the trees, a wee bit of fertiliser and we can leave them to their own devices save a bit of weeding soon. The acre plot is an area that has quite a bit of bracken which will shade out the trees. I had hoped to create one of these plots every second year when we did the first ten years or more ago. But other projects have taken over and we have only achieved two to date. We have lots of Birch but not a lot of Scots Pine and it is an effort to create a seed source, which I’ll not see for sure.

Fence Finished and Trees Planted

I was trying to take a photo of the Cuillins with snow (there are still patches on it to-day11th May)

The Cuillins

When I was zooming in the Sea Eagle flew into the picture and landed right in the middle of the frame. (that’s the wee dot!!!)

Then The Sea Eagle Arrived

We had the boat in the water for the moorings but it had not been antifouled, we paint it every year but last year there was a problem with the hull, a few pits, turned into many and we had a problem with a leaking hull. The only answer at this stage was to fill it with Marine Filler and give it several coats of paint, one primer the rest antifoul. It works.

AntiFouled

In fact the boat is going really well having been back and fore to Portree quite a few times lately.

Safety First

Even by the time we got to putting the new railings up it was Lockdown, we carried on. We have been trying to make the path from the pier visitor friendly with new concrete on the base. The drop is not much on the railing side but the landing is full of boulders. So a new fence was needed. Not the first, many years ago there was a metal posted, wired fence there. Probably way back in the ‘Woods’ ownership days.

The View Whilst Looking for Lambs, Early Morning.

At this time of year I hope to get reasonably fit. Every morning at 5.30ish I wake and leave the house shortly after looking for lambs, or problems, usually an hours walk. The best bit apart from the arrival of lambs is the walk in the cool morning light with the birds waking up, the cuckoo calling, the sea breaking and the view. Very strange this year with very few planes and boats about. So Quiet.

Lorraine’s Workstation

The diversification of jobs is wide, Lorraine has taken over the cabin as her ‘studio’. A room for sewing, which was very timely with a call for scrubs. So she set to find material which we had plenty of from the old cottage linen and I had to make a work bench. We had plenty planks left from the build so 4 @ 8 x 2 were found and planed down, joined together, hey presto, a bench.

Escapees, Captured

Not on a walk but on a visit to Dry Harbour, I spotted one of our escapee Gimmers with a new lamb. Easily walked into the garden at Seascape rather than the usual rodeo when we find them. I had the pick up but rather that lose them again I bundled the ewe and her lamb into the jeep, I’m sure they enjoyed the ride.

Covid 19

The picture above says it all and the visit from the SAR helicopter too around the time we put it up. We have had a visiting yacht in April which was disappointing and it is those that break the lockdown that put lives at risk. If and when those that choose to ‘do what they want’ have a problem they then become a danger not to themselves but to those that have to attend to them. I read this morning of hillwalkers who drove to Glenshiel for a hillwalking day only to have their car breakdown which then entails the driver of the breakdown having to deal with them.

Our Only Visitors Last Month.

It was disappointing way back on the 14th January to find this after a horrendous gale and noisy night.

More Gales coming

Even more frustrating to have to do it all again.

Here We Go Again

But we managed to re-use almost 90% of the tin and quite a bit of the timber but we do have a lot of kindling.

Sheep Work

In between it the sheep need dealt with, drenching, tagging, tailing. A short diversion and back to the roof.

Making Honey out of hens………..

Not pretty but needs must.

90%

I heard that Jewsons Broadford were open for account holders a couple of weeks ago to pick up at their front door, it was swamped as nowhere on Skye had been open for building material. But we managed to get some things picked up and in that was the corrugated perspex sheeting which enabled us to finish the roof. Now all I needed was the gutter fittings.

Early Morning Fuel Run

The Lockdown has its advantages I suppose, the price of kerosene is very low in comparison to normal times. So to take advantage and save hundreds on the landing craft that usually takes it, we hope to get a few loads from the Scottish Fuels Portree. The weather has been kind and it is quite a surreal feeling to visit Portree under present conditions. More later.

It is half past eight Monday morning11th of May. I’ve been out checking the sheep and lambs but must now head out again it is a beautiful day, lots to do so more updates later to-day.

 

 

 

 

 

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Lockdown News

How do you resurrect the blog? Been that long since the last one and such big gaps between them, I wonder where I had time to do them before the ‘New House’. Now named “Tigh na Creag”. Been that long I’ve really got to think how do I start?

“Tigh na Creag” February Sunrise

Here goes, lets start with this week. Life goes on, no real change here apart from no visitors. We’ve been living in splendid isolation (apart from Summertime) for so long that it just feels like the period at the end of the winter where we get going with all the tasks before the ‘Yachties ‘arrive. Mostly outside work that we can’t do due to short days and of course the weather.

March 2020

The weather has been kind of course which makes ‘Lockdown’ for everyone easier to deal with. For us it has been the best Spring for many years.

March 2020 The Old Man

Day after day of sunshine with the ground drying up, but as I was reminded in Portree last week, we did suffer 7 months of ‘Grey’ before this spell.

Close up The Old Man

All in all it makes for a much easier working environment outdoors.

Looking over to the Torridon Range

And the views of course which is one of the main attractions of living here, it constantly changes as the seasons evolve, this year has been very special so far.

Another huge advantage of the settled weather system was that we got the windows on the small cottages painted, long overdue. But we had already decided to do them regardless of the weather and had made shutters out of old building timber and ply. They were a Godsend and helped dry out the frames, we’ll be fitting them again this coming winter. With all energies concentrating on the New House this past three years, some of the painting has been neglected. But weather played a major part in that neglect too.

Window Shutters

The facings on the dormer were too far gone on the Escape cottage so they needed new. Cromartie Timber supplied the dressed larch tongue and groove for the window surround, no need for painting and it will gradually weather grey, just like the new house.

New Facings The Escape Cottage

A good job and handy to have the scaffold now left from the house build.

Back on February 28th we had a surprise when a Ewe appeared with a lamb. A day later once the ewe and lamb had spent the night inside another lamb turned up. Too early for sure and how it survived the night is a mystery. It was a twin.

The Boy

In that short time that the twin was adrift from the mother she was then not interested in the second twin so it became a pet lamb, needing fed every four hours. We penned them together but no joy on the mother taking it on.

The Twin Sister

The other twin of course thrived and a worrying month ahead of us watching for more lambs, fortunately it was a one off and the next lambs came 4th April.

Mum and Twins

We had no lambs last year so we were all geared up for it this season but it has been a bit of a trial with a few on bottles, a few dead one to the Eagle and this week a ‘Gimmer’ stuck on cliffs.

Stuck!

On the 29th April we had a message from the survey boat working the coast here that there was a sheep stuck on cliffs. We did not pick up that message until the following Wednesday at night and I was going to Portree first thing so it was not going to be until the Thursday afternoon that I could check it out.

Survey RIB and Drone In Bug Harbour 28th April

So Thursday I took the boat round and could not believe it when I found that the Gimmer was still alive and lying down on the 30 degree (or more) angled slab of rock 15 feet off the shore. So Friday morning first thing it was calm and that allowed us to get ashore and try to rescue the sheep.

Sheep Rescue

First of all we tried to lasso it from above and lower it down, we had taken our rodding kit with us to join together which would have been ok to hook a noose round the sheep from above but was none too handy when we found that we had to try to hook it from below.

Sheep Rescue

I tried again to lasso it but no luck. Then joined the rods but found that was too bendy.

Sheep Rescue

I then found if I rested the rods on the shelf edge I could get it close to the sheep but the noose was not working.

Sheep Rescue

A small adjustment to the noose and I hooked the sheep, at that point it decided to leap off. It was only about 15 feet and it landed with a thump at my feet. Job done it stood up, shook itself, walked off and started feeding. None the worse.

Beach Clean

We spotted this net and pipe on the shore and as we were there we picked it up. It was possible that the tide would have lifted it again and took it out to sea. So all in all a good mornings work.

Since I started this blog page this beautiful Sunday morning the phone has never stopped ringing now I know why I can’t get up to date with the blog!!!!! More later.

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The Project Continues

I put this together last week but did not post so here it is tonight, with a little time, I’ll get there with the posts.

Here’s the Project from the start to almost the finish.

Oops !

There were a few moments when big stones fell out that were a bit dodgy but Ian was full of confidence (or hope).

The Press

We certainly shifted a few tonnes of rubble and bone dry Lime Mortar.

Tight Squeeze

I was convinced we would need Acroprops but Ian again was full of positive confidence.

Interesting Use of Bags of Cement in the Gable!!!!!!

Even when he spotted the Cement bags from the renovation 20 years ago, paper still on them. I can only guess they were rock solid and rather than waste them they were used as fill, who knows.

Cuillin

Ian brought his pup, Cuillin. A great help chewing everything and hiding various bits and pieces, but a good distraction.

Cuillin Helping

This is after the second clear up and ready for rebuilding to sit the lintels on.

Getting There

Nearly ready for framing and plasterboard.

Running Out Of Plaster

It was good to get the first coat of plaster on.

Ran Out

But it used quite a bit and as usual Starskies is 11 watery miles away, well we will get it later this week, we are used to it.

First Load

Every stone hand balled.

Ouch My Back!!

By the time I’d loaded this my back was fairly complaining.

Snowing

We had good weather throughout the slapping, the odd shower but nothing like it could be and the day we decided to repair the window and frames the heavens opened, the wind turned North and snow arrived. As usual the snow  did not lie.

Good Day for Repairing The Window.

It was dry enough in the new workshop and Ian set to to repair the old window. The old sash and case windows need a lot of attention. Sadly lacking these last few years during building.

Getting There

We had some nice Redwood from the build left over and I prepared it for Ian, it had dried out nicely and the window is in and shuttered in an effort to get a dry day to paint them in situ.

Then There’s Mess

Of course there is always the mess after building and stuff just piles up, there is quite a bit of waste for sure in the Building Trade.

Stormy Outside

Since Ian left the weather has changed and the brief spell gave way to wind and rain. But that is not a problem when you are inside with the heating on plastering.

Bombshell

Or doing paperwork looking out of the windows of the New House (Tigh na Creag). On the screen was the link sent to me by the Scottish Gamekeepers Association. Which made for interesting reading. There is a lot of negativity in the Press and Social media about Sporting Estates just now and for the past few years. It is disheartening to read the attacks on the way of life we are lucky to lead. Who knows where it will end. But the Red Deer of Scotland is at threat from those that know not what they do.

Stalking Saturday

Although I am painting a picture of grey bleak days it is not all bad and the odd few hours of sun or starry nights are still happening. The weather has been calm on odd days and any chance to finish our agreed Hind cull is pounced upon.

Dhu Chamas

Our deer are doing very well and provide us with a great resource and contrary to the noises coming out of Scot’ Gov we do not have a problem with them, we enjoy seeing the deer, trees are very hard to grow here and the deer are having no impact on the ones we have. There is a good mix and we have a healthy deer herd. We manage them to suit the Island and have done now for almost 20 years.

End of a Good Day

Always good to enjoy the views when out stalking, late on Saturday night I was enjoying the walk and not too bothered about shooting anything.

Hungry Sheep

We are trying to encourage the wee birdies to our new feeder at ‘Tigh na Creag’ but they are proving elusive, they are hanging about the shed where they have been fed historically. Seems the only thing we encouraged were the sheep, ever resourceful. I have since raised the table.

Last Night Sunday 2nd

And last night a good end to the week.

 

 

 

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