By Roger Hutchinson

Calum MacLeod had lived at the northern element of Raasay given that his beginning in 1911. He tended the Rona lighthouse on the very tip of his little archipelago, until eventually semi-automation in 1967 lowered his obligations. So what he made up our minds to do, says his final neighbour, Donald MacLeod, used to be to construct a highway out of Arnish in his months off. With a highway he was hoping new generations of individuals might go back to Arnish and all of the north finish of Raasay. And so, on the age of fifty six, Calum MacLeod, the final guy left in northern Raasay, set approximately single-handedly developing the very unlikely highway. it should turn into a romantic, quixotic enterprise, a type of sculpture; an obsessive murals so excellent in each gradient, culvert and helping wall that its construction occupied nearly two decades of his existence. In Calum's Road, Roger Hutchinson recounts the extreme tale of this striking man's devotion to his visionary undertaking.

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A scholar at Duncan of Jordanstone university of paintings in Dundee named Campbell Sandilands may within the early Eighties spend time with Calum MacLeod for you to write a dissertation on his highway. within the early levels, Sandilands discovered, Calum had ‘by hand to make a “tram-line” of stones defining the finite boundary of the line. This was once then crammed in with extra stones after which smaller stones among the bigger ones . . . Gravel and small stones have been quarried to accomplish the line floor. ’ The onerous clearance of foliage by means of choose and shovel and wheelbarrow couldn't be constrained to the roadway itself. ‘It ought by no means to be forgotten’, Thomas Aitken had written, ‘that for you to have the skin of a street excellent, it has to be stored thoroughly dry . . . it really is completely essential to eliminate timber from the edges of the line . . . no less than 20 in step with cent of the fee of repairing roads is incurred via the bushes . . . maintaining the line rainy. ’ This was once the kind of paintings, the 1st 5th of a mile of not easy labour, that Basil Reckitt saw in my opinion in April of 1966, noting in his magazine that ‘Calum MacLeod has been engaged on it for the final six months. ’ Calum were toiling, then, via a interval of what a terminal problem within the human affairs of northern Raasay. In 1964 the Oban occasions despatched a photographer to the north finish of Raasay, probably to list a few infrequent surviving fragment of conventional Hebridean existence. The newspaper later published a range of picturesque snaps and captions. ‘Calum MacLeod, Arnish, the postman for North Raasay, drawing close Fladda’ was once the caption underneath a panorama shot of Calum, whole with Wellington boots and postman’s cap, a hefty, bulging canvas bag putting from his correct shoulder, walking down the tune in the direction of the tidal narrows among Raasay and Fladda. The trim homes of Fladda are within the rapid distance, and Calum is, after all, jogging alongside an incredibly wide, flat and well-maintained stretch of coastal pathway: the pathway that he had outfitted together with his brother Charles 13 years prior. one other picture used to be captioned ‘Provisions arrive off the lighthouse reduction boat. the image exhibits Fladda humans and households domestic on vacation. ’ And there they stand, in a contented staff with reference to the shore, dealing with piles of promising parcels: Katie MacKenzie (née Gillies), domestic from Gairloch at the mainland; James MacKenzie; Katie Gillies; Mary Gillies; Bella MacLeod; and Cathie MacAskill (née MacLeod), over from Struan in Skye. And in the course of them, smiling indulgently, stands ‘Calum MacLeod, postman and captain of the lighthouse boat yet donning lighthouse provider cap’. there have been others photographs: of Fladda males shearing sheep up by means of Kyle Rona, of the women of Fladda sporting their items in wicker creels on their backs from the lighthouse boat up the hill to domestic, of husbands and better halves and canine at the hillside and outdoors their entrance door. presently afterwards, on the finish of the yr, a small information merchandise seemed within the Oban instances. ‘With the ultimate of 1964’, it learn, ‘a bankruptcy within the background of the small islet of Fladda at the northwest coast of Raasay has come to an finish .

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