Posts Tagged ‘landslide’


Landslips and hospices

5 November, 2007

One of the stranger days I’ve had so far, as a candidate:

 Firstly, a drive through glorious autumn sunshine to Arrocahr, to the site of the recent landslip on the Rest and Be Thankful. It seemed ridiculous to me that, in a country where we have considerable rain fall, a weekend’s rain should close a road for days.

I contacted some of Scotland’s leading experts in civil engineering and slope management, and learned that, as is always the case, there is no easy answer that doesn’t involve a lot of money. I spoke to Prof Andrew Sloan, who made me aware of the Scottish Road Network Landslides Study, commissioned by Nicol Stephen in the wake of the 2004 landslides, and published in 2005. After downloading it from the Scottish Government publications website, I noted, with interest, that 29km of the Rest and be thankful had been named – along with 9 other stretches of road – as ‘High Hazard’ areas.

It was decided, however, that remedial action would prove too expensive, so the study has been shelved.

Not good enough: these roads are lifeline routes, and it is down to luck that no one was killed in the most recent incident.

Jamie McGrigor and I met with representatives of TranServ, to view the size of the task in hand. The company is working all out to make the road safe (they had a team out at 4am on Saturday, working hard to clear the debris and shore up the downside of the slope), but TranServ’s Business Manager was at pains to stress that there is no projected timescale for re-opening the road: it is still far too dangerous. carolyn-and-jamie-at-landslip2.jpg

Surveying the site, it is sobering to see the damage that has been done and to realise that much of the slope is still moving and could come down at any minute. TranServe is attempting a ground-breaking method (sorry – Jamie’s pun, not mine) to bring down the rest of the matter, pumping water up the hill, to soak the ground and precipitate a controlled slip of the rest of the material.

Here’s hoping it works and the road is open again as soon as possible, but they still have to make the downside safe, before it will be open to traffic. For up-to-the-moment progress reports, check the Traffic Scotland website at

Then it was out of my fetching luminous yellow trousers (tied up, if you but knew it by a piece of twine from Jamie’s pocket) and off to the Rhu and Shandon Women’s Guild Charity Tea, in aid of the Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS). The Guild supports its two chosen charities (CHAS and Cancer Research) on alternate years.

CHAS supports children with life-limiting or life-threatening illness and their families, providing respite and palliative care  facilities in Scotland. Ewan McGregor is a supporter and visited Robin House hospice in Alexandria during his ‘Long Way Down’ journey for the BBC.

To find out more about this worthwhile charity, visit the website at