Raasay 1975.

RAASAY  12th -29th August 1975

Leader: Gavin Macpherson

Officers: Stewart Booker, Keith Broadbent, Allan Foreman, David Harding, Mike Standage, Dieter Wyroll.

Boys: Jeremy Barlett, Michael Biddulph, Patrick Biddulph, John Bostock, Andrew Buchan, John Cherrington, Gary Dunlop,

Boz Earley,  Antony Evers, Jonathon Harper, John Hudson, Nick Johnstone, Hugh Lorimer, Gary Marshall, Steve Marston,

Simon Medhurst, David Moxley, Richard Perton, Jonathon Reeves, Jock Stevenson, Michael Woodruff, Nicholas Woodruff.



Looking back through previous Reports the S.H.S seem to have many happy memories of Raasay. Now, after Raasay '75, it has some more. For this, above all else, was a happy and rather carefree sort of expedition. Our main achievement was that we enjoyed ourselves, and if we acquired a reputation for throwing stones into the sea, why, that was because we enjoyed throwing stones into the sea.

The great advantage of Raasay as a venue for an expedition is the island's variety. Within its length are high craggy peaks, soggy peat bogs, fertile farms and wooded valleys, shingle beaches and high cliffs. It is an island of infinite interest, and my only regret is that two weeks is not enough time in which to do it justice. Yet from our camp below Brochel Castle we managed to cover most of the ground, and even explored a little bit of Skye.

The establishment of the camp proved to be complicated. A combination of late running trains meant that our arrival on Raasay was delayed by several hours, and pitching the tents was a race against the darkness. We also found ourselves without water for the well close to the marquee was unusable following the long dry summer. For much of the expedition we had to carry our water from Fred Hohler's tank several hundred yards away up the hill.

Brochel Castle. 14/06/2009

Constructed sometime during the fifteenth century, Brochel Castle remained occupied until 1671, when the Laird of Raasay, Iain Garbh, died. Little is known of the castle as references in the historical record are sporadic.


Copyright Euan Nelson



The Shore at Brochel Castle 14/06/2009





Copyright Euan Nelson

However, the expedition was soon in full swing. We grew used to the lumps in the ground beneath the tents, we furnished the marquee, and we chalked our names in the hut alongside those of Carcas and Limpet. Most people did a fair amount of exploration southwards to Inverarish and Dun Caan, northwards to Torran, Fladday and over Beinn na h-Iolaire, or just up the road to Ardnish and into the forest. The Avon dinghy was constantly in use for fishing and exploring, or even collecting coffee tables from up the coast. The outboard proved to have a mind of its own only choosing to work when it felt like it, until the fault was diagnosed as an incorrect mixture of two stroke.

The project work was interesting, but not particularly serious. There was great excitement the day that the ornithologists found a golden eagle, although it then managed to elude various search parties. We gathered different species of edible seaweed - horrid. We admired the road to Ardnish, largely built by Callum MacLeod, and eventually met its builder. Surveying was a little limited since the Society's tapes had gone missing before they reached us, and the only measuring device that we had was a one foot ruler. Improvisation, using a hosepipe, marquee poles, Silva compass, and Broadbent's theory of error distribution failed to provide an accurate plan of the camp site.


Bivvy parties went to the old iron ore workings near Inverarish, and a climbing bivvy left for Skye, only to return due to rain, but more particularly because they forgot the climbing rope. We all sampled the delights of a day trip to Inverarish, and were fascinated by Raasay House. It was strange to picture it as it must have been in all its splendour before the desolation of desertion set in.

Back in camp Mike dished out beans, beans and more beans, and occasionally gave us a sausage to go with them. Stewart cooked better porridge than anybody else, and went on to serve luncheon meat in such a way that even I went back for seconds. We invented Raasay cricket, a highly dangerous version of the Headingley variety. The wind blew from the Southeast, as it always does when the Society goes to Brochel, and demolished the bog-tents and part of the marquee. Keith played his guitar in the evenings, and Steve told ghost stories.


Raasay iron ore mine ruins. 02/10/2010 Copyright Richard Dorrell

This view looks along the line of the former railway which curves to the left past the principal buildings of the mine. The entrance to the mine is a hundred metres or so behind the photographer.

Raasay House, now an outdoor centre. July 1994

Copyright John Darcy

Nearly everyone went orienteering, but hardly anyone found any of the stations. The prize for being lost, however, went to the lone yachtsman we found wandering round the north end of the island on a very wet and windy day looking for a telephone box. We reckoned that he was fifteen miles from the nearest.

The expedition had moments of madness, like the evening everyone rushed out of the marquee and into the sea, or the time that Dieter did a solo on the non-electric foot pump for the Avon inflatable. There was Steve running all the way to Inverarish, and Keith striding out manfully beneath his rucksack.

And so the expedition passed. In the end it rained as we carted the black boxes up the hill to the road, and it rained more as we raced south to the school house. There we shivered in wet clothes until the lorry for the equipment arrived, and we were able to change and cook some supper. It was still raining in the morning when the "Eigg" left Raasay for Portree, and we sailed back to reality, which in this case was represented by John Cullingford and Jim Turner who were waiting at the quay to meet us

We are as always indebted to very many people. To the islanders who extended their hospitality to us, and particularly Callum MacLeod and John Parker of Ardnish. To Mrs Rutherford whose welcome at the school house as we trudged in from the rain was appreciated by everyone. To Peter Gillies who ran backwards and forwards up and down the island on our account.

We must also be very grateful to members of the S.H.S who put in so many work hours in order to make the expedition possible. Thanks go particularly to John Hutchison who co-ordinated the entire mammoth effort. I personally would like to thank Keith, Mike Stewart, Allan, David, and Dieter, and the twenty two boys of the expedition, for it was your work and enthusiasm that in the end made the expedition as successful as it was.




GAVIN: Gavin was expected to be a six foot hairy Scotsman (without baggy trousers) and with a six inch long bushy beard. He turned out to be a short, stocky Sassenach with a never ending supply of yellow jumpers and khaki baggy trousers. He tried to get rid of the beans by eating them. Nice try, Gavin. 

MIKE The C A: He tried to mix beans in with everything so that nobody would notice them. Another nice try. Mike was also the man who explained the ticket situation to every man with a British Rail hat that came within fifty feet. Well done, Mike.

ALLAN: The man of many accents: His culinary skills proved very interesting when he provided us with such concoctions as Pepper and asparagus soup. When people tried to throw the food away, they were tapped on the back by Allan who would then offer to eat it for them.

DIETER: The man in the dirty old man suit: Dieter looked American, spoke with a Welsh accent, and turned out to be German. But he wore an Edwardian beard and taught English.... how about that! He told great stories and was a great bundle of fun. Fantastically done, Dieter.

 DAVE The successful bivvy man: Dave was a bit of a bird man, who went mad with excitement when he saw any bird of prey. He imagined that he was a great orienteer. But he came last claiming that someone had stolen his clues. He seemed to have lost his razor somewhere along the line.

 KEITH guitar player extraordinaire: He could also sing and the idiot walked eight miles with a sixty five pound rucksack full of books, maps, and old SHS reports. His brain also gave him a lot of trouble, but he would insist on using it.

 STEWART: This was the man who expected to deal with blisters, and didn't. The only medical operation that he performed was putting one stitch in one nose. Stewart, an averaged sized man, was about six inches too broad for the black ski trousers he wore.

PS: Mike also seemed to have lost his razor and would insist that he was a superhero.