Raasay Books - Calum's Road
by Roger Hutchinson,
Burlinn Limited 2006,
Synopsis: This book is a parable: a moving story of stubbornly heroic resistance and of extraordinary personal achievement. It is the story of a statement made from the depths of one man’s heart in the most practical and indisputable of ways against the unnecessary destruction of his homeland.
For almost all his life, Calum MacLeod lived in the north of the Hebridean island of Raasay, where he worked as a crofter, postman and tender of the Rona lighthouse. Yet, due to clearance and neglect. The population of northern Raasay dwindled during his lifetime to just two people – Calum and his wife.
Calum had an idiosyncratic response to this decline. One spring morning, he took his homemade wheelbarrow, a pick, an axe and a shovel, trundled south from his crofthouse down a narrow, rutted bridle path, across rough hillsides, along the edge of hazardous cliff-faces, through patches of stunted hazel and birch and over quaking peat bogs. Then, alone in an empty landscape, he began to build a road. ‘With a road,’ his former neighbour Donald MacLeod said, ‘he hoped new generations of people would return to the north end of Raasay.’ It would become a romantic, quixotic venture; an obsessive work of art so perfect in every gradient, culvert and supporting wall that its creation occupied almost twenty years.
The extraordinary story of one man’s devotion to a visionary project, Calum’s Road is a tale not simply of stubbornly heroic resistance and supreme personal achievement; it is also the story of a cry from the depths of one man’s heart against the erosion of his native culture.
‘. . . wonderful, elegant and serious,’ – The Telegraph
‘MacLeod defied powers outwith his control in the only way he could . . . paints a compelling picture of the man,’ – Sunday Times
‘ An incredible testament to one man’s determination,’ – The Sunday Herald
’It’s inspiring to read about a man who wouldn’t succumb, wouldn’t let the Government threaten his way of life.’ – Publishing News
’An extraordinary tale.’ – The Bookseller
’This is an extraordinarily fine book, and one of the most important books to have come out of the Highlands and Islands in recent years,’ – West Highland Free Press