Raasay has always been a special place for me, as I worked at its outdoor centre many years ago and met Anne Martin on the ferry slipway. I eventually married her. The choice of walking to Fearns came about due to working with the primary school, and the initial idea was to get the children to lead the walk, this became a little too complicated to fit into the school itinerary. One boy and his parent managed to walk with us, their people had originally come from Fearns.
Many years ago, soon after my mother-in-law had died we decided to visit Keose in Lewis where her people had come from. The old crofter who had the land showed us what would have been the original house some of Annes’s ancestors came from, now like so many just rough ruins. Our daughter was wee and was busy clambering over the walls throwing a purple ‘Teletubby’ cuddly toy whilst balancing on the large stone blocks. The old man looked at this little girl and quietly said, “isn’t it amazing to think that her genes came from this place!” A shiver went down my spine as I felt a connection by blood proxy to this old house, via my own daughter.
These connections are both special and unique, and to be able to share the houses of Fearns with some of its descendants was a privilege.
Anne of course asked the youngster to lead the way to the cleared houses, and he took off like a rabbit through the bracken taking the group on a more adventurous but indeed circular route, returning by a bigger path. There was a largish burn to cross involving ‘combined tactics’ and resulting in a comment suggesting that some might have thought twice about coming if they had known! Adventure is however all relative and with a slow pace and some extra care there were no mishaps. Anne and the young boy sang the song that the primary school pupils wrote about Fearns, which was also a very special experience. Despite being adventurous, it was only a very short walk from the road, so after returning to the minibuses, there was a decision to drive to the end of the road and walk to Hallaig.
I have some recollection of years ago of possibly abseiling down a waterfall below the village with groups from the outdoor centre, but this was my first visit to the actual houses. Funnily enough as I write this, Anne is on her way to Raasay again as she has been asked to help the children sing the song about Fearns to Princess Anne who for some reason is visiting the island.
This is a very short walk but involves logistics with a ferry so could be included with a stay at Raasay House or a bed and breakfast on the Island. The start of the walk is a pull off on the hill side on the unnumbered road from which heads east from Inverarish to Fearns (Grid Reference 588358). There is a track which heads diagonally down the hill past a house and crosses the burn. The older settlement is below and south of the houses by the road. After exploring North Fearns we drove to the end of the road and walked to the Sorley Macleans’s cairn at Hallaig which is a 2.5Km continuation of the road on a very good patrh which was likely a horse track for people from the ‘Big House’ in days gone by.
These are links to a description of the walk to Hallaig, the ferry timetable and Raasay House