CC BY-SA, Paul T

Location: Raasay
gaelic language and placenames, farming and crofting

Calum's Road on Raasay

Over ten years (1964 -1974) a Raasay crofter single-handedly laboured to turn the footpath connecting Arnish in the island’s North end to its main road - a distance of 1¾ miles (2.8km) - into a single track road.

Years of lobbying and applying for grants for a new road had come to nothing, so 56 year old Calum MacLeod decided he would do the upgrade himself, negotiating steep climbs and descents, skirting cliffs above rocky inlets and dealing with boggy moorland throughout. This was done with a shovel, pick and wheelbarrow in what time he could spare from tending animals and his duties as the Rona Lighthouse assistant keeper and part-time postman.

The only other help was blasting work carried out with the Department of Agriculture. This epic feet of engineering, requiring vision and a dogged determination to save his village from depopulation was finally acknowledged by the Council. In 1982, they adopted the road and tarmacked it, but by this time Calum, MBE, and his wife were the only people left in Arnish.

Today there is a prominent sign - Rathad Chaluim (Calum road’s) - marking the start of the road and a cairn with a commemorative plaque at the other end. Calum’s story has now reached a global audience with Roger Hutchinson’s best-selling book, Calum ’s Road, adapted into plays for the stage and radio, and Gaelic supergroup Capercaillie dedicating a song to him in their album The blood is strong, in 1988, shortly after Calum’s death at the age of 77.

More information on visiting the area can be found here.