Calum's Road

Calum's Road is a great Christmas gift and a wonderful read for anyone as interested as am I in British history, ancient or modern. Roger Hutchinson's account of the life and the late-on, solo roadmaking efforts of one Calum MacLeod on the Inner Hebridean island of Raasay is a brilliant piece of journalistic narrative.

So often history is about the great and the good and the wars that they waged, employing (using) the courage and the lives presumably of all those less than great, less than good. At school you don't, or at least, you didn't used to learn anything about the lives of the so-called common man. No man of course is 'common' in the sense that we are all different in genes, looks, behaviour and talent, one from the other. And Calum MacLeod was about as uncommon a man as you will find; a true one-off. Read the book.

I guess the book is made more poignant for us because we used to be able to see Raasay from the cottage at 7, Red Point, (on the tip of the peninsula between Gairloch and Loch Torridon)which we rented for many a holiday. Sitting up in bed at night you could see lighthouse over there winking out its coded warning. Early mornings in sumnmer daylight you watched with your cup of tea, totally absorbed, at events out in The Minch, which is the sea area between the outer Hebrides and the Wester-Ross mainland. We saw pods of killer wales, oil rigs being slow-towed out from their birthplace in Loch Kishorn, gannets diving the mackerel shoals, the inevitable fishing boats (too many of them, and too efficient at cleaning out stocks of their quarry, I'm afraid) - on one occasion we lifted our cups in salute to HMS Brittania, the now defunct Royal Yacht, taking H.M. and Company for their Summer Holidays up north.

Calum's Road - what a memorial!

2 comments:

  1. Totally agree, Bryan, Calum was a one-off. Recommended reading, and not just for those with an interest in the history of the Highlands.

    The background, leading to Calum's story, provides a real insight to the plight of those hard-working folk who suffered at the hands of those fortunate to only have the worry about the Game Bag...

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  2. I can't wait to read this book. I remember so well looking across from Redpoint to Raasay and wondering what life was like over on that island.

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