Sunday, 12 April 2009

Raasay, Day 2

It was a fine night in the bothy. Three others turned up, having walked in with 2 bags of coal, a fiddle, a guitar and several penny whistles. We had a pleasant evening of bothy stories, and I was lulled to sleep by the music.
I was woken by a brilliant light through the window. The dawn was fantastic, but the rainbows were short lived, as everything faded after 10 minutes. A strong wind was driving white horses down the coast, and the weather broadcast gave gale warnings for all the adjacent sea areas. The wind direction was predicted to vary from south-west to south-east, leaving me no completely sheltered escape route. Continuing to Rona looked scary, so it was back to bed after a big plate of porridge.

The midday forecast was no better, so I decided to try and gain some ground down the west coast. If I could at least reach the road end, I would have a way out if the weather deteriorated again. There followed a 9 km trip of strong headwinds. It also involved 2 short portages to avoid long detours in exposed waters. A narrow channel between Fladday and Raasay funneled the wind and proved to be an inch by inch struggle. A couple of sideways gusts resulted in bracing strokes to avoid being blown over. Finally I reached a narrow causeway which connects the 2 islands, unfortunately just too early to float over it.

The Fladday portage

Slightly easier paddling brought me to Loch Arnish, just as the sun came out. Arnish was the home of Calum MacLeod, a postman who, in the 1960's, built a 2 mile road across the island, in the ultimately futile hope of saving the village from depopulation. He built it entirely by hand, and his work is commemorated in the tune "Calum's Road".

Close to Manish Point I found a lovely camp site in a sheltered bay. Lots of driftwood fuelled a fine fire. I sat on the beach until the fire died and the wine bottle had turned from ballast to buoyancy.

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