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TITLE
'Calum's Road'
EXTERNAL ID
AB_LL_ROGER_HUTCHINSON
DISTRICT
Skye
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
INVERNESS: Portree
DATE OF RECORDING
2008
CREATOR
Roger Hutchinson
SOURCE
Am Baile
ASSET ID
1439
KEYWORDS
audio
roads
literary landscapes

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This audio extract is from 'Calum's Road' by Roger Hutchinson, published in 2006. It is read here by the author.

'Not many months after that [initial] encounter I walked the length of Calum's road for the first time. It was a glorious early summer's day, but the one and three quarter miles appeared to be unnaturally long. Its surface was as before - which is to say that only the wheel ruts and the rugged central ridge prevented a car from traversing it - and it made for relatively easy hiking. But the terrain gave, as it still gives, this highway epic proportions. Rarely can more than a quarter of a mile of Calum's road be seen in any single stretch. Everywhere its next section disappears elusively from sight, around bends in the cliff-face or down into glens or over hilltops. One and three quarter miles of a motorway (or, as Calum himself would say, of an autobahn) is as quickly traversed as it is seen. One and three quarter miles of the road between Brochel and Arnish is like an odyssey.

And later I walked it again. And later still I drove one motorcar after another along it. With every passage it seemed increasingly not only to represent some kind of heroic last stand, but to be a parable. Not a myth or fable, for it is firmly grounded in fact, but a simple morality tale.

The test of its allegorical power would be, of course, endurance. Like good roads, parables not only survive the passing of the years but grow stronger with them. And Calum's road has established itself effortlessly in the folklore first of the Highlands and Islands and then of Scotland, and steadily thereafter of the United Kingdom and the whole great wider world beyond Loch Arnish. A curious physical process seemed to be under way in which as the Gaelic Hebridean society which Calum MacLeod fought for, characterised, loved and represented slipped into history, so his immense, defiant gesture became increasingly significant. A cultural mountain had eroded, but as it washed away, the remnant bedrock of Calum MacLeod's road appeared as haunting and precious as fossilised footprints on any other distant shore.'


Roger Hutchinson was born and brought up in the north of England. He launched and edited a magazine there, before moving to London and becoming editor of both 'Oz' and 'IT' in the early seventies.

In 1975 he became a freelance journalist and went on to author several books on subjects as diverse as the professional tennis circuit, the Royal Family, Bruce Lee and man-eating sharks. Two years later he moved to Skye to join the West Highland Free Press, where he worked for ten years.

Roger continues to write a column for WHFP as well as working as a freelance author and journalist who has also written for the BBC, the 'Scotsman', the 'Herald' and the 'Guardian'.

Roger has received a number of awards for his journalism and books. He won the British Weekly Sportswriter of the Year in 1996. He was short-listed for the 2004 Saltire Scottish Book of the Year award for 'The Soap Man: Lewis, Harris and Lord Leverhulme', and his bestselling 'Calum's Road' was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature's Ondaatje Prize in 2007.

Roger Hutchinson now lives on the Isle of Raasay off the coast of Skye. Life on the island inspired him to write the highly acclaimed 'Calum's Road' (Birlinn, 2006), the story of one man's struggle to preserve his community in the face of official indifference throughout the 20th century. 'Calum's Road' was described by Magnus Linklater in Scotland on Sunday as 'destined to become a minor classic' and has been optioned to be adapted into a feature film.

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'Calum's Road'

INVERNESS: Portree

audio; roads; literary landscapes

Am Baile

Literary Landscapes: Roger Hutchinson

This audio extract is from 'Calum's Road' by Roger Hutchinson, published in 2006. It is read here by the author.<br /> <br /> 'Not many months after that [initial] encounter I walked the length of Calum's road for the first time. It was a glorious early summer's day, but the one and three quarter miles appeared to be unnaturally long. Its surface was as before - which is to say that only the wheel ruts and the rugged central ridge prevented a car from traversing it - and it made for relatively easy hiking. But the terrain gave, as it still gives, this highway epic proportions. Rarely can more than a quarter of a mile of Calum's road be seen in any single stretch. Everywhere its next section disappears elusively from sight, around bends in the cliff-face or down into glens or over hilltops. One and three quarter miles of a motorway (or, as Calum himself would say, of an autobahn) is as quickly traversed as it is seen. One and three quarter miles of the road between Brochel and Arnish is like an odyssey.<br /> <br /> And later I walked it again. And later still I drove one motorcar after another along it. With every passage it seemed increasingly not only to represent some kind of heroic last stand, but to be a parable. Not a myth or fable, for it is firmly grounded in fact, but a simple morality tale.<br /> <br /> The test of its allegorical power would be, of course, endurance. Like good roads, parables not only survive the passing of the years but grow stronger with them. And Calum's road has established itself effortlessly in the folklore first of the Highlands and Islands and then of Scotland, and steadily thereafter of the United Kingdom and the whole great wider world beyond Loch Arnish. A curious physical process seemed to be under way in which as the Gaelic Hebridean society which Calum MacLeod fought for, characterised, loved and represented slipped into history, so his immense, defiant gesture became increasingly significant. A cultural mountain had eroded, but as it washed away, the remnant bedrock of Calum MacLeod's road appeared as haunting and precious as fossilised footprints on any other distant shore.'<br /> <br /> <br /> Roger Hutchinson was born and brought up in the north of England. He launched and edited a magazine there, before moving to London and becoming editor of both 'Oz' and 'IT' in the early seventies.<br /> <br /> In 1975 he became a freelance journalist and went on to author several books on subjects as diverse as the professional tennis circuit, the Royal Family, Bruce Lee and man-eating sharks. Two years later he moved to Skye to join the West Highland Free Press, where he worked for ten years.<br /> <br /> Roger continues to write a column for WHFP as well as working as a freelance author and journalist who has also written for the BBC, the 'Scotsman', the 'Herald' and the 'Guardian'.<br /> <br /> Roger has received a number of awards for his journalism and books. He won the British Weekly Sportswriter of the Year in 1996. He was short-listed for the 2004 Saltire Scottish Book of the Year award for 'The Soap Man: Lewis, Harris and Lord Leverhulme', and his bestselling 'Calum's Road' was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature's Ondaatje Prize in 2007.<br /> <br /> Roger Hutchinson now lives on the Isle of Raasay off the coast of Skye. Life on the island inspired him to write the highly acclaimed 'Calum's Road' (Birlinn, 2006), the story of one man's struggle to preserve his community in the face of official indifference throughout the 20th century. 'Calum's Road' was described by Magnus Linklater in Scotland on Sunday as 'destined to become a minor classic' and has been optioned to be adapted into a feature film.