Walk of the week: Raasay
Raasay… I call it the earthly paradise because it’s like heaven to me. In June 2010 I wrote about a trip to Raasay to climb Dun Caan, the island’s iconic image, and to visit the remains of the iron ore mine opened just before the First World War.
That walk started from the ageing pier and slipway at Suisnish then following the long straight line of the dismantled railway used to transport some 200,000 tons of raw ore.
Time may appear to move slower on Raasay (Ratharsair), Isle of the Roe Deer, but things do change. The pier is no longer used by Caledonian MacBrayne. A £12m ferry terminal at Clachan some two miles to the north-west and more central to the main area of habitation, was officially opened in August 2010.
The Sconser/Raasay ferry summer timetable (30 March to 20 October) has departures Monday to Saturday, approximately hourly. There are only two Sunday departures; 10:30 and 16.30. For a detailed timetable tel: 01475 650350 or e-mail email@example.com It is expensive to take a car on this 20 minute crossing, but bicycles are free. Adult pedestrians £3.50 single, children under 5 years free, 5-15 years half the adult fare.
I strongly recommend a Forestry Commission booklet about the forests and trails on the Isle of Raasay, tel: 01463 791575 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org The following walk, a clockwise route from Clachan via Inverarish, and so back to the terminal, makes use of some of the waymarked trails.
With clag on the high tops and swirling light mist at sea level adding a certain air of mystery and intrigue, it was a well chosen day for Margaret and I, plus newly engaged Sarah and Peter, to go to Raasay. The sun broke through from time to time before the heat of the day dissipated the mist.
From the terminal, head west round Churchton Bay, on a grassy strip at first, then on the charming shoreline path which swings north, passes through an area of overgrown rhododendron bushes, to North Bay – but alas no seals or otters. At the northern end of the bay, turn right to briefly join the coastal road, then leave it on the signposted Orchard Path. This leads to the northernmost and highest part of the walk.
Head south, passing by the stone-walled Raasay House orchard, now derelict, and so to the Tarmac road that leads to the cemetery.
However, at first traversing an area churned up by timber operations, a fine path heads west on a detour to Temptation Hill and a grassy platform; a marvellous viewpoint overlooking Churchton Bay and beyond the Narrows of Raasay. The story is of the quasi-mythical kelpie, tempted by the smell of a roasted sow, only to be slain by a blacksmith whose daughter had been devoured by the beast. There is a stone memorial to Kit who died aged 19 in 1917; not a soldier who fell in the First World War, but a woman who died of the fever. The stone was erected by her fiancé.
Return to the road and head downhill by road or path to the southern end of Loch na Muilneadh from where a path leads south-east to descend past Dun Bhorghadail Broch (Dun Borodale), the remains of an interesting Iron Age fortified settlement. Go past the manse and church, then take the riverside path by the Inverarish Burn to reach Inverarish, the island’s main village, built to house the iron ore miners. Turn right, pass the hotel – cue refreshment stop – and back to the pier.
Map: Ordnance Survey map 32, South Skye, or 24, Raasay & Loch Torridon
Distance: 4½ miles
Terrain: Paths, tracks and minor roads
Start point: Clachan ferry terminal, map ref 545363
Time: 3 to 4 hours
Nearest village: Inverarish
Recommended refreshment spot: Raasay House café bar
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Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 20 June 2013
Temperature: 12 C to 21 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: South east
Temperature: 11 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: West