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.

About Bill Cowie

I've been living on the island since April 2002, alone for the first 5 years, my partner L joined me in 2007. We manage the Island for a Danish family who bought the Island in the early 90's. Their hopes for the Island are to make it self sufficient supporting its inhabitants and that is where we come in. We look after the stock, 3 holiday cottages, machinery, boat and of course the visitors. It is pretty challenging but it is a beautiful place to live and work, we love it and strangely enough we love it even more in the depths of winter when all is quiet apart from the gales and rain. We do a bit of fishing, stock work, stalking deer and loads of other stuff. We have good support from lots of people whom we have met over the years and have become involved in the Island. Too many to mention here but keep an eye on the blog, they'll be there for sure in the future.
This entry was posted in Books, The Views and of course the weather. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Rona Revisited After Forty-Two Years

  1. cazinatutu says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, even though I have no connection with the islands. So much history.
    Thanks.

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