In May 1911 William Baird & Co Ltd, ironmasters of Coatbridge bought the Isle of Raasay Estate to mine for iron ore. In 1914 the First World War broke out, just as the mine was ready to go into full production.
On the small island of Raasay thirty-six men were called to fight for their country, leaving no one to work the mine. The mine was as good as shut down before it even started.
By 1916 the German submarine campaign was preventing iron ore getting to Britain from abroad. The government desperately needed iron and steel for the war effort. They took over the mine, with Baird & Co still running it as agents, and provided German Prisoners of War (PoWs) as the workforce for the mine.
Between 1911 and 1914 Baird & Co set up the mine on the south end of the island - the remains of which you can still walk around today.
When arriving on Raasay, from Skye, you step onto the pier built in 1912 by Robert McAlpine & Sons. The pier allowed the iron ore to be easily shipped to Skye and then on to the mainland. Traces of a dismantled tramway run north from the pier; once used to transport iron ore from the mines. The railway leads to the abandoned mines, at the edge of Raasay Forest.
Visiting Raasay Mines
The exact location of Raasay Mines is grid reference NG 555 364.
The best place to access the site is Inverarish. From here there is an official trail called the Miners' Trail. This visits some of Raasay's old iron ore buildings and follows the route of an old incline railway to Suisnish pier. The route is graded moderate and is 1 mile long. It takes approximately 45 minutes to walk.
All sites managed by Forestry Commission Scotland are open for you to explore. However, not all sites have paths or signage and some are a considerable distance from car parking. We recommend that visitors consult a detailed map and wear appropriate clothing.
Please follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and remember that historic sites should be treated with care and respect.