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Need for Road at Cromore
Need for Road at Cromore
An anonymous letter to the Editor of the Highland News, 6 January 1900. See also the subsequent meeting.
Sir, - For a number of years past we have been endeavouring to have a road constructed through the wild and trackless moors of that part of the parish of Lochs which lies south of Loch Erisort. We have repeatedly consulted our Parish and County Councillors, but have hitherto met with no success. We are far from maintaining that the said Councillors are not trying to promote our interests to the best of their ability, but there are a few personages who are secretly, and hitherto successfully, though in a most reprehensible manner, using their influence not at all on our behalf but entirely in the opposite manner. Who these are we shall not now report, but we hope that their aims will soon be cast to one side and their power and schemes as our antagonists shattered and completely overcome. We cannot understand their frame of mind, but of this we are sure, that if they were condemned to tramp only four miles through our moors on a stormy wintry day (not to say night) it would tend to mitigate their feelings of opposition. We wish, but only for their own good in future, that they would experience a little of the inconveniences and hardships arising from the trackless nature of our moors.
Last August matters were very promising. At that date the proposed route of the Cromore-Gravir road had been marked out by the Lewis District Committee, and approved by the Congested District Board, who, we understand, were ready to grant the necessary amount of money for the construction of this road. The Cromore and Gravir people received this intelligence with satisfaction and cheerfulness, and were heartily and unanimously agreed to construct by free labour the part apportioned to themselves. Everything was ready, and the work was on the eve of being commenced when a certain gentleman - Captain Andrews - visited the district for the purpose, we understand, of examining the route of this road. This gentleman, we are reluctant, though obliged to report, showed his excessive indifference in the matter entrusted to him by consulting and adopting as his guide only a stranger whose knowledge of the place was so insufficient and imperfect, geographically, that but for assistance rendered them by a young girl, twelve years of age, belonging to the village of Cromore, both would have gone helplessly and hoplessly astray on the moors. Yet we understand that Captain Andrews' reports bearing on the proposed road were entirely founded on instructions and data supplied by the said stranger. Whether those reports were or could be valid, or merely misleading, we shall leave for the weight of evidence to determine and decide. However, these reports resulted in the frustration of all previous arrangements in connection with the matter under discussion. Now, we are sorely and sadly embarrassed from the want of roads. The difficulities and dangers we have to encounter, and the hardhips we have to endure, are trying in the extreme. The condition of our district renders it impossible for us to employ any beast of burden, and how we are supposed to discharge our duties or prosecute our callings satisfactorily, or our townships to thrive, under such circumstances?
All our traffic with Stornoway is carried on by means of small open boats, the only kind at our disposal. As rough seas - sometimes in summer, but most frequently in winter - intercept our communication with the said town, often for several days at a time, we are frequently reduced to great straits. Owing to a similar reason, we are storm-stayed at Stornoway sometimes for upwards to six or seven days at a time, when we might otherwise be usefully employed at home. Even on our way to or from home we are caught in sudden storms, when, after battling with the elements for hours, we are at length compelled to yield to them and make for the most sheltered cove available, where we must needs stay, completely sea-soaked, protected only by the inhospitable cliffs, and suffering from the want of every comfort and convenience, until the storm subsides, and finally arrive home with goods damaged and in many instances rendered perfectly useless. Many of us, who may be so unfortunate as to be caught in a snowstorm on the moors, have really pitiable tales of suffering to relate. Everybody knows that the greatest difficulty encountered in travelling through trackless moors in a blizzard arises from the fact that often in those storms the wind, on which one must rely for guidance when every other means fail him, veers too rapidly, and yet so unconsciously to the traveller, that he turns from the direction in which he thought he was going, and now wanders on in a most uncertain and erractic manner, until, at last, perplexed and completely exhausted, he has to seek the shelter of the first crag he happens to hit upon, and there remain as long as the storm continues. This cannot be but injurious to health, and in many cases, either directly or indirectly, destructive.
The same moors, when covered with snow, are always treacherous, and therefore unsafe to the traveller even during fine weather, and when thaw sets in travelling is more difficult and dangerous than ever. Medical attendance cannot be provided during such condtions of weather, so that our sick and dying are too often left to their fate, and the results of this are obvious to all. While conveying our dead to their last resting-place, which is about four miles distant from some of our homes, we encounter all the difficulities presented by moor-travelling. Our supplies of fuel cannot be procured at a nearer distance to our homes than upwards of two miles. We, fishermen in pursuit of our chief calling, are generally night and day furrowing the waters of the Minch, so that the tasks of carrying home a daily supply of fuel is allotted principally to the weaker sex, who, whilst engaged in this work, are reduced to a deplorable condition wading through rivulets, crossing morasses, climbing steep slopes, and all this often through storms of rain, sleet, or snow. Are we not justified in demanding a reformed state of matters.
Surely we are not condemned to live much longer under such trying circumstances when a few miles of road would cause them all to vanish, for if we had a road from Cromore to Gravir and on to Lemrevay with short branches to Maravig and Calbost, all these difficulities, which cannot be realized by any except those who have experienced them, could, and certainly would, altogether be avoided. Surely when other districts in Lewis and all over the Highlands generally, which are already far better provided for than we, receive their hundreds of pounds to further promote their interests, we are not to be entirely neglected and forgotten when a remedy is so easily accomplished. We hope that our Councillors will kindly take up our cause once more, and that their next efforts shall not be rendered so futile by the intrigues of certain persons whom we know, but whose names we do not now care to publish.
- I am, Sir, yours, &c., A. Lochsman.