Lynne:My name's Lynne Rowe and I'm the director at Raasay Outdoor centre & resident of Raasay House

Nina:Can you tell me why you originally came to the house?

Lynne:Well I originally came to the highlands as a teacher in Plockton

(...she goes onto describe how she came from teaching to the house as a climbing instructor from Skye, later she started started Raasay Outdoor Centre with two other people in a derelict house...)

Lynne:Do you want a wee bit of history of the house?...Basically, when Boswell & Johnson were here the clan chief was here

Nina:It was a new house then wasn't it?

Lynne:What year did they come?


Lynne:Yes the original house was burnt down after the '45, Raasay suffered really badly 250 years ago because the clan chief had gone off and fought with Prince Charlie. So this house was burnt down - every other house on the island was burnt down, - every habitation - and every animal was killed on the island. There were very few people killed, every animal was killed. So the place was decimated - it was the start of the sort of ethnic cleansing really.


Lynne:But, when Boswell & Johnson came here I suppose it was the son of that clan chief that was in residence, and yeh he found it quite happy , but um, the Macleods left in the late 1700's - they sold up, the house and the island was bought by, well, it just went from a series of wealthy land owners really, until the first world war - it was a hotel, no, between the wars it was a hotel, then, it was very fashionable I think - quite a lot of rich people came here, like the De Beers. But I think when the South of France became fashionable it stopped.


Lynne:Now where are we quickly?.. As a hotel it got more and more run down. It was owned by, the Island and this place was owned by the Department of Agriculture, and in the 70's it was sold for £5,000 to a speculative land owner from Sussex - and the house was then left to go to wrack and ruin, basically, so it was derelict for a decade, and then the government bought it back for £157,000, by which time there was nothing left of it really - and didn't know what to do with it which is where this SAS major came in... (He ran the centre when Lynne first came to Raasay). Then,um, so it was still derilect and it was still derelict when we started up in '84.

(... she describes the huge amounts of work done on the house over the last 12 years, she explains that she is 'stupidly attatched' to the house and talks of future plans for a trust)

Nina:What do you think about Boswell & Johnson - you've read their journals?

Lynne:I have, I suppose, well we actually use quite a lot of their stuff in our advertising.

Nina:We noticed.

Lynne:Because when you take out a lot of the quotes from the stuff he did in the highlands , that Johnson did in the highlands, some of his writing is beautiful, and it's great to read that... what is it? - "Such a seat of hospitality amidst the wind and wavesÓ - and that's what we set out to offer here...

Lynne:But it has to be said that the island has a strange hold on me - the island not necessarily the people but the place. It's got a lot of energy, which is quite interesting. We have a homeopathic conference here each year - they've been coming for 8 years from all over the world. As far as the Johnson thing goes...I actually sleep in the room that he's supposed to have slept in, whether they both slept there or he slept there?

Nina:Boswell got drunk didn't he - both nights he was here, I thought.

Lynne:But, the first night I moved into the room, I don't know whether you know it was just me wanting to see something, But I had this distinct impression of this large man - I mean actually thinking about it, it was more than a distinct impression because he had these huge thigh length riding boots on and a big white shirt. Just this huge presence sitting at the desk at the other side of the room.


Lynne:Interesting, whether that is the room... certainly those three rooms, the one that I'm in, the staff room and the bathroom, are the oldest in the house.

Nina:We've had weird kind of sudden perceptions of time folding and other times expanding. For example climbing up the hill today or seeing natural things - suddenly the time just folds in cos you know it looks more or less as it did when they did it . Then other times - Like at Slains Castle, which is now a ruin, and which was where they stayed and was a proper house - the ruin is not, it's not like seeing Arbroath abbey for example, which was a ruin even when they saw it. So you get these weird things where the time in between the two journeys really expands or contracts.

Lynne:umm I think the sad thing is really, that in most places, no I guess everywhere you're going - that there is less life, less of a highland economy, less of a living economy, and a working atmosphere...that's kind of a sad thing.

(...we go on to discuss this in relation to places we have visited, especially Inverness reputed to be thriving and Forres - highest rate of unemployment in Scotland...The conversation meanders into a comparison of urban/rural quality of life...)