Isle of Raasay
|Location Map ( geo)|
|Distance:||10.3 miles (16.6 km)|
The Isle of Raasay lies between the Isle of Skye and the Applecross peninsula and is one of the Hebridean isles. It is connected to the A87 at Sconser on Skye by the Raasay Ferry, which formerly arrived on the island at the pier at Suisnish, but in 2010 the 'old pier' at Clachan was rebuilt as the island's new ferry port. Historically there was only one adopted road on the island, running from the pier at Suisnish to Brochel in the north, but in the last 50 years this has changed significantly, with a substantial network of roads linking all of the settlements together.
Route - Suisnish to Brochel
So, looking at that original road to start with, we start at the pier head and turn left to run northwards along the shore. At times the road seems to sit on a raised beach, with quite a ragged cliff rising up on the right, and a short grassy bank leading down to the beach on the left. The views across to Skye are, however, magnificent so it is possible that the road will hardly be noticed as you head north!
Eventually, 30 signs are found as the road enters West Suisnish, which leads into Inverarish, the main settlement on the island. Here the old road turns left at a staggered crossroads just after the fire station, immediately crossing the Inverarish Burn on a small stone arch bridge. The main road is now heading northwest, climbing slightly into Clachan with intermittent views across the sea to Skye between the small trees and hedge on the roadside.
Clachan is home to the island school and its two churches, but as new houses are built the join between Inverarish and Clachan is starting to blur a little. The left turn of School Park is a case in point where a number of new homes have been built on the driveway to the school. The road meanwhile climbs above the school, past the right turn of the Glen Road and the Islands Hotel towards Raasay House. The old road down to the pier is now closed up, with a new road built from the old stableblock down to the pier in front of Raasay House, which in 2012 is still being rebuilt after a devastating fire.
Our road does a dogleg past the stable block and follows the garden wall around the back of Raasay House, to run through the trees of Temptation Hill. Again, occasional glimpses of the view across to Skye can be seen between the trees, this time it is the Trotternish peninsula of Skye that is in view, with the Old Man of Storr and Quiraing rock formations in prominence. The trees give way after a slight descent and open fields allow the view to be enjoyed in full. Soon the settlement of Oscaig is found although most of the houses lie off down lanes on the shoreside of the road.
The road now skirts Holoman Bay, with the tidal Holoman Island in view at the end, before starting to climb from the shore once more, never quite reaching Balachuirn as it turns up the hill to a T-Junction. Right turns back to Clachan, and now seems to be the main route north from the south of the island as it carries the C1235 number, but turning left here is the traditional main road, which does a very small double bend next to the new water works, before dipping sharply across the Storab Burn and then climbing steadily to the roads summit at around 240m up. From here the road descends, steeply at times, and with many sharp bends to its traditional terminus at Brochel.
East Suisnish - Eyre Point
From the old ferry pier at Suisnish, a road leads eastwards along the coast through East Suisnish and onto Eyre Point. In places the road again runs along what seems to be a raised beach between a ragged cliff and the beach. Also of note at the pier, is that climbing straight up is the old mineral railway line that served the iron ore mines on the Glen Road. There was once a foundry at Suisnish.
The Glen Road
From the left turn on the main road (above) in Inverarish a road leads north past the village and up to another T-Junction. The road to the left crosses the Inverarish Burn on a small stone bridge and leads back to the junction at the island School, while the road to the right climbs steeply up along the Inverarish Burn. Fairly quickly it passes between pier that once supported a branch on the railway line, and then on the skyline ahead more pier supporting the main line can be seen.
The road seems to get steeper as it winds up past Glen Cottage to the old mine workings. Here the road crosses the railway on a very low bridge, then crosses a tributary to the Inverarish Burn before climbing up and across a shallow bealach where the views east to Applecross suddenly open out. The road now drops across Bracken covered slopes to the scattered cottages of Fearns, a settlement that seems to shun the car, with cottages strewn across the hillside below the road and only connected to it by narrow winding paths through the bracken.
Clachan - Balmeanach
This is the 'new road' now taken over as the main road north and bearing the C1235 number. It forks left from the Clachan arm of the Glen Road to the west of the Inverarish Burn and climbs up through Raasay Forest passing a church and around the back of Temptation Hill before bursting out onto the open hillside. The only property it passes from the forest edge to the junction with the 'old' main road is the island's youth hostel.
Perhaps the most famous piece of road on Raasay is Calum's Road. The road was built virtually single handedly by Calum MacLeod who lived in the small village of Arnish at the northern end of Raasay. After several failed years campaigning for the council to build a road from Brochel, Calum decided to take matters into his own hands in 1964. He bought a book, some basic tools and started on a project that would take the next 10 years of his life to complete. He was 53 when he started the task, and in those 10 years he built nearly 2 miles of road over difficult terrain to connect Arnish to Brochel. During construction the population of Arnish dwindled to just Calum and his wife, but the village has now been reinvigorated with a number of occupied properties. The road was adopted in the 1980s.