A view on Fishing,Community and Life on the NW coast of Scotland

Cutting and Drilling.

Did not want to get up this morning, a quarter of a million pound drilling rig axle deep at the turbine house site, toilets blocked and the Filling Station playing up.

Monday was a pretty frantic up and down day for the Hydro. While we were away at the CLS Conference the drilling rig arrived and failed to get on site so it was all hands to the pump on Monday morning. Well afternoon, as the Rig chappie had some domestics to sort out and arrived at the middle of the day. I had a wee bit of phoning to do to see if Duncan and Chris could make it, Duncan for towing the Rig in and Chris for a bit of tree surgery.


Turns out the tree surgery went like a dream.


In between hauling the wood off to the side noticed the next tree was hollowed out but still alive.


More a bat tree than the one we delimbed. Suspect the bats are living in the Stedding.


Thinking afterwards, Chris is a classic Applecross adoptee in that he turned up out of the blue around 3/4 years ago and has established himself well in the community. Now living in one of the affordable Craic Barn houses he has turned his hand to several jobs, the latest is tree surgery and this was his second outing. Kayak instructor, tree planter, mountain guide, Rhoddy basher or even bar man at the Inn gives you an idea how adaptable we are up here. If it was not for affordable housing…….. and we do need more for more young guys like Chris or even some Chrisinas.

Then the heavy mob arrived


as Chris went off to plant some trees on the Alt Beag and left the sheep to tuck into some fresh sycamore leaves.


Another attempt to get the rig in failed fairly quickly but the track machine was the next option.


A tow in from the gate was organised which did not mean Mick was going to pull it in.


That quickly was underway and a routine emerged with Duncan in front with the chain attached to the rig and using the bucket to pull the rig in chain length by chain length.


In place eventually and with the compressor taken in a lot easier the drilling began.




The first two holes successful and then the problems began again with the rig unable to manoeuvre for the other two holes and that is when the back axle became level to the ground. I made myself go back up at ten to take this photo. Could not earlier on but on the assumption that there was going to be a recovery taking shape over the next couple of days it would be good to see what the boys came back from.


The actual drilling part of the operation seemed to be the easiest although we were watching an artist, joining drill bits with no hands but manoeuvring by control unit.




Mike came along for a look and soon became involved in some tractor work. A bit like being at sea, there is a problem, it has to be fixed. Day finished with the area behind the rig cleared and ready for a tow out in the morning. Leaving the field was a little depressing but a few well meant and positive words helped. And Dougal and Eildh did enjoy their long day as site-work dogs. Dougal meeting Kenny today.


Unfortunately that did not happen as Jim had more stuff to deal with so did not make it over and little happened during the day. Donald replaced Duncan and Mick returned to the east with little progress made. Difficult to work on someone’s machinery which is their livelihood. As I missed a day at sea on monday had to go out yesterday as the forecast is not settling down. Surprised by the fishing as at this time of year there is little activity with the creels. Only hauled 250 but although mostly small should be enough to keep people happy till I manage out again. Dentist in the evening and that is when I saw the static situation on the field. Worrying.

After a wee feeling of dread and doing little myself, by twelve the rig and compressor are out of the field. Using the hydraulic base stand at the rear of the rig and with wood the rear wheel was built up almost level


before a successful tow out was performed.




Good to see the rig passing out through the field gate.


The boys left with a bit of a tidy up and Mick wanted another bucket hole dug to make sure there was rock on the down side of the site. The drill holes on monday showed up good rock base but no one was in mind to drill this morning. Must not lose the evidence of what came out. The toilets are now unblocked, Sean was involved with this and seems we are encountering what seems to be a new sewage disposal issue. Wet wipes that do not disintegrate are blocking sewers up and down the country. And the Filling Station is selling fuel. Seeing by the dips there are healthy sales at the moment. Not surprising as there are huge amounts of visitors around. The weather is not having any effect on the numbers. I personally feel there is a bit of an imbalance at the moment, certainly at the Inn, where it sounded as though they were having difficulty in coping with the numbers. Trying to send people down to the Walled Garden where there is excellent food being served. Accommodation beds are out of sync with the eating places. Huge pressure is put on the services some of which are being kept going by volunteers. The slightly worrying thought is that this is only May. Called in early tonight but a lot more buoyant than I was this morning. The most important piece over the 3/4 days is the community involvement, guys turning up to offer advice and to help and willing to negotiate prices and offer some of the work free. Over time I hope the community will pay this back tenfold. In recent years the skill capacity of the community has increased and become more self sustaining. Ever onwards.

Comments on: "Cutting and Drilling." (2)

  1. Janet Lamb said:

    Chris is certainly a young man of many talents – who could forget his skill on roller skates? It brought a smile to my face remembering his roller skating exploits. I hope Applecross doesn’t get too hectic or it might lose its appeal. However, local economic success is to be lauded especially when it’s for the local community.

    • applecrosslifeattheedge said:

      I know it does not seem like it when one is being jostled in the Inn but there are not enough people here to run things properly. If three or four key people stopped or left then we would have problems. The community would survive of course but whether it would thrive I am not so sure. We need more like Chris who look around and adapt to how life is lived here.

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