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Raasay visitor information guide

  • Raasay Latitude 57.396959 Longitude -6.048078
  • Raasay Postcode IV40
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Raasay Inverness-Shire some five miles long long north east to south west and of uneven width, seldom more than one mile broad broad it stretches its length between Skye and the west mainland of Scotland.

It is dominated on either side by the peaks of Torridon und Skye, but is not overwhelmed by these tremendous circumstances.

It has a special appeal that it would offer wherever it vas situated.

Standing, however in the Western Seas, it ornaments all that is around it but does not attempt to reflect the dramatic quality of that which lies to the east and west of it.

Rocky and hilly in parts, its highest hill. Dun Cann (only 1,456 ft) is oddly flattened on the top as if it has been beheaded with a huge knife.

On this flat top Boswell, with characteristic exuberance, danced a reel when he visited the island with Dr Johnson.

He cannot therefore have found the ascent too laborious. There used to be a certain amount of crofting lands and the people of Raasay in the 18th century were not impoverished nor unusually small in numbers.

Conditions of the 19th century (including the disastrous potato famine) rather than evictions by landlords were responsible for the tragedy of Raasay.

At the north east end of the island is a ruined ancient castle of the MacLeods of Raasay-Brochel.

To the south west stands Raasay House where Dr Johnson and Boswell were entertained in 1773 it was enlarged in the graceful Regency style of the early 19th century by the last MacLeods who inhabited it.

Apart from its natural quite beauty the allure of Raasay to anyone who is literate and who loves the history of the Highlands and Islands in his heart and blood is quite frankly in the past.

That past may be known to be happy by reading Boswell's pages describing Dr Johnson's and his visit there - easily the happiest adventure in all that happy pilgrimage of 1773.

When Johnson and Boswell stayed on the island, Macleod of Raasay there host had no fewer than ten daughters in his household.

They danced every night of the year round, Dr Johnson said they were the best bred children he ever saw, and he wondered how he and Boswell would ever get away from such an island paradise.

The Doctor did not of course join in the dancing, but merely added in the rumbling deep bass of his happy talk, an accompaniment to the music of the dance and to the flying feet of youth

Equally of course Boswell did join in every dance. It is characteristic of him that. in the midst of his openly-expressed admiration for these ten young ladies, he was 'disturbed by thinking how poor a chance they had to get husbands on this remote island.

He need not have been anxious. All of them got married. The outstanding impression left by the Raasay of 1773 is one of contentment and gaiety of good manners and ease, but most certainly not of indolent luxury. At the south end of the island there are disused iron- works and a narrow gauge railway to a pit. These were closed after the First World War when they were worked by German prisoners of war.

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