Raasay Expedition 1964

August 27th—September l l t h

Leader:- Richard Fountaine

Camp Administrator:- Robin Lord, Doctor:- Tim Roe. Climbing etc, Bill Wilson, Ornithology etc. Dick Gardner,

Ropework etc, Patrick Bradley.

 Junior Officers Brian Dale, John Garrett, Ken Hunter, Terry Leeder and Alister Newton.


Boys:-  Martin Bedwell, Andrew Black, Barry Brookshaw, Robert Buckley, Philip Carpenter, David Crews, Stuart Cullum,

Richard Gibb, Ian Green, Peter Hannam, Colin Lang, Brian Lett, Peter Liver, Frederick Markham,

Archibald McKcllar, James Osmond, Richard Perks, Clifford Reeves, Alister Reid, Alistair Stevenson,

Paul Thompson, Graham Turner, Michael Ward, and Simon Young.



The Raasay Expedition comprised 24 boys. 5 Junior Officers and 6 Officers. 14 of the boys and 3 of the officers had been on the 1963 Gometra Expedition, so many old hands met again. The expedition travelled to Mallaig overnight on 27 August, picking up groups at various stations on the way north. In the meantime M.V. " Dougal's arrived at Mallaig from Oban with the heavy equipment for both the Raasay and Rona expeditions. Personal equipment was loaded on to " Dougal's". while personnel took the MacBrayne's boats to Raasay Pier via Kyle a beautiful trip. Unloading from Dougal's was difficult as the Raasay pier is high, and the tide was still fairly low. This necessitated hauling everything up 20 ft., most of it on ropes. Meanwhile the first group had taken the van up to Brochel, and when equipment began to arrive a start was made with the setting up of camp. The site was below Brochel Castle by the beach, on a patch of grass used by the salmon fishermen as a drying area for their nets. As it was a good quarter of a mile from the end of the road down to the camp site the work of bringing the equipment down was long and hard, and was continued long after dark. Enough of the camp was set up on the first night to enable us to sit down to a good meal by 11.30 p.m. The last lorry load of equipment and stores was brought down the next day, and with the building of tables, benches and shelves in the marquee the camp was more or less established. But throughout the fortnight additions and improvements continued to be added- the building of the corrugated iron sea wall, the rebuilding of a protective stone wall, the construction of steps down off the path, the digging of an involved system of flood canals round the tents, the brilliant rehousing of No. 3, the brackening of the marquee floor, and Alister Reid's kitchen improvements, which resulted in the wonder of grassless soup. During the fortnight numerous events and activities took place. Two rafts were built, the first one proving very versatile Andrew Black and Alister Reid discovered that it floated very well upside down. Alister Reid also dyed and made up the very tasteful plum-coloured ex-pillowcase camp flag. A library, largely of reference books, was set up in the marquee, which was popular and useful. Tim Roe gave a general hygiene and medical talk, and boys were instructed in first aid in small groups. Tim also led the team which carried out a survey of the bay. Bill Wilson gave a talk on hillcraft and mountain safety. Much climbing was done on the Castle Rock, right by camp, and so there was plenty of opportunity for the introduction and practising of this activity. A route up the big cliffs at Screpadal was pioneered, but as these cliffs are virgin climbs there was much loose material about, and so no further routes were attempted. A bivouac camp was set up under the Scrcpadal cliffs by Bill, Phil Carpenter. Dick Perks, Alistcr Stevenson, David Crews and Terry Lceder, with the object of inspecting the cliffs for future reference, but very wet conditions made it impossible to achieve much. Patrick (Knotty) Bradley showed people the ropes, and led a team of aerial runway constructors. Dick Gardner, in addition to working on the ornithology, dissected fish caught, showing internal workings, stomach contents, and other biological horrors. A microscope was also used for related purposes. Camp administrator Robin Lord, leading by example, ensured that everyone consistently over-ate. He also acted as general salvager of wet clothes and bedding, and somehow contrived to keep clothes-drying ahead of the floodwaters of the last few days. Graham Turner, with assistance from Patrick Bradley and John Garrett, played the hymns. John Garrett took charge of the weather recording operations, and also ran the Raasay Radio Station. Andrew Black and Robert Buckley led the astronomical observations. Ken Hunter undertook a survey of the island's grasses. Fossils were dug; loch fishing yielded only two trout, but sea fishing was very successful; and Philip Carpenter caught a lizard. Paul Thompson and Stuart Cullum led the local Beatles group. A jam-butty blowing mania seized the camp. Martin Bed well, Barry Brookshaw, Stuart Cullum and Robert Buckley all being sometime champions. Bad weather conditions led to the last minute cancellation of the Scalpay trip, which was a great pity as this island has not been visited by any members of the Society as yet. The 16 people who got up at 5.30 a.m. thought it was a pity for other reasons. Two parties visited and stayed overnight on South Rona, and members of that expedition visited us in return. A number of parties spent the night away from camp in the Home Farm loft in the south of Raasay. We were very glad to be visited by a number of people, including members of the Young Naturalists Association, and a small party of the islanders, who were entertained to supper in the marquee one evening. We greatly enjoyed the visit of the Bishop of Norwich who stayed with us for a night, both before and after his time on Rona, and who on the second occasion held a memorable evening communion service in the marquee.

Archie McKellar sent me a couple of photos from Raasay, thanks Archie, anyone else who was on the trip with photos or memories - if so please get in touch. Nick

Camp was struck during the day of September 10th. It had been raining for the previous four days, so conditions were very wet and muddy. This made the work of carrying everything up to the road even harder, but at least there was no food to go up and the job was done remarkably quickly. By 10.30 p.m. the last load was on the pier. The last night was spent in the loft of the Home Farm, after a memorable performance by both cooks and eaters—some of these reaching "fifths” on the stew. We were up in the dark at 4.30 in order to be ready for the early boat. And so we left the island. Just to be on the boat in comparative cleanness and warmth and among other passengers gave one a strange feeling. As the island dropped astern, if one was not too tired, one felt a mixture of relief and regret that it was all over, and one began to realise how wonderful it had been. Our thanks are due to very many people for their help towards the well-being and success of the expedition. In particular mention should be made of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland for permission to use the island; Mr. Graham for the use of the Brochel site; Mr. MacLeod for clearing out the wells prior to our arrival; to Mr. Ellicamp for the use of the Home Farm loft. We are grateful to many of the islanders in addition for making us so welcome at their homes and for all the help they gave us with information about the island and its history. Finally, our thanks are due to the officers who put in such an enormous amount of hard work, and provided a wonderful example of a happy and closely knit team; and to everyone on the expedition for their enthusiasm, cheerfulness, and spirit of excitement, which gave rise to a sense of unity in the camp, and in the individuals the urge to explore new fields. These qualities are essential for the full success of an expedition. They gave added purpose to, and were the most important attributes of, all the activities undertaken. That the expedition was so highly enjoyable and so very rewarding was due to the combined contributions of everyone. It was a privilege to lead such an expedition.

Richard Fountaine

Archie McKellar on the rather muddy campsite beneath Brochel Castle on Raasay.


After the first week, which was completely fine, there is no need to comment on the weather on Raasay; some figures were kept for mean (max. and min.) temperature, humidity; wind speed and direction, cloud cover and type, pressure and rainfall. A few figures might be interesting:

Max. temp. 72° F, Thursday, September 3rd.

Min. temp. 42° F, Sunday Monday. August 30th-31st.

Max. wind speed, 30 m.p.h. S.E. in camp site, Monday, September 7th.

John Garrett

Archie outside his tent "Proudly displaying our fine abode for which I don't recall winning any housekeeping awards, for some reason."