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Recycling Johnson – Onwards and Upwards

Written by Charlotte Murray, 8th June 2011

Compared with the 91 miles Phil and Sheena have already notched up on their Scottish cycle, today’s meagre distance of 14 miles will probably be a breeze. Crossing over to the Isle of Raasay by ferry (giving their legs a wee rest) and taking in the stunning views (more of these in a moment), today’s itinerary might seem a little tame by Phil and Sheena’s standards. Yet, what awaits the couple on Raasay is Dun Caan, the island’s largest hill at an impressive 1455 feet. Now, I have been reliably informed that, once atop Dun Caan, Phil and Sheena plan to dance a jig on the summit, just as Boswell, Dr Johnson’s travelling companion and biographer, did over 250 years ago, to express his overwhelming delight at the superb landscapes all around him. Whilst Johnson never made it up Dun Caan, he still managed to fit in his fair share of dancing whilst on Raasay, although perhaps in a more conventional setting. Whilst staying at Raasay House, he and Boswell received another wonderful welcome - this time from Mr Malcolm Macleod, the proprietor of the island. Here’s Johnson’s description of his first night on the island – surely Scottish hospitality at its best!

“Our reception exceeded our expectations. We found nothing but civility, elegance, and plenty. After the usual refreshments, and the usual conversation, the evening came upon us. The carpet was then rolled off the floor; the musician was called, and the whole company was invited to dance, nor did ever fairies trip with greater alacrity. The general air of festivity, which predominated in this place, so far remote from all those regions which the mind has been used to contemplate as the mansions of pleasure, struck the imagination with a delightful surprise, analogous to that which is felt at an unexpected emersion from darkness into light.”

It’s not too late to sponsor Phil and Sheena - visit their charity giving page and donate whatever you can towards Get Into Reading.

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