Calum’s Road

  • Book: Calum’s Road
  • Location: Isle of Raasay
  • Author: Roger Hutchinson

Location

Content

Calum McCleod and his neighbours wanted a road from his home in Arnish on the remote Scottish island of Raasay to the nearest town of Brochel. After years of campaigning by the local inhabitants to get the council to build one, they remained unsuccessful – so Calum decided to build one himself. Armed with basic tools and materials and a 1901 book about building roads as his only guide he spent the next 10 years – 1964-1974 – constructing his road. By the time he’d finished it was perhaps more of an empty gesture than anything else as he and his wife were the last inhabitants to still be living there, but his achievement has become the stuff of legend and an inspiration to anyone who decides not to take no as an answer. When the powers that be won’t help, then courage, determination and persistence can often work miracles. It’s a remarkable story, and one that can’t fail to capture the imagination of anyone reading it.
The book is also a description of island life in these remote parts, and a history of their decline and the politics that have often ignored the needs of the islanders. The harsh reality of life, and the difficulties faced by those living in such remote areas comes over loud and clear. At its heart this is a fascinating tale, although the writing style is somewhat pedestrian and it is fortunate that the subject matter transcends the writing.
Certainly for any visitor to the islands this is essential reading and stands as a metaphor for the triumph of the human spirit. Calum’s Road is still there to be travelled, and if you can’t actually get there, you can do so virtually on YouTube.

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