Rona Lighthouse is also referred to as South Rona Lighthouse to avoid confusion with North Rona Lighthouse, north of the Isle of Lewis.
Beyond the northern tip of Raasay is the small island of Rona, with its isolated lighthouse at the northern end. The main anchorage on Rona is located in a sea loch on the south of the island. Prior permission must be sought to land on the island due to a military installation.
The first light at Rona was provided by a widow named Janet Mackenzie. She displayed a light in one of the windows of her cottage on the beach for 10 years. This enabled fishing boats to clear the rocks at the harbour entrance, where she is said to have lost her husband and sons.
It was suggested that she be “given an Argand burner with a reflector, and to keep her in oil,” but the Lighthouse Commissioners instead gave her a grant of £20. She is remembered in the name of a 1930s lighthouse boat.
The current lighthouse at Rona, like Isle Ornsay, was first lit on 10th November 1857—the two lights helped to guide mariners through the narrow channel to the east of Skye.
The former shore station in Portree was built in the 1950s for the families of the keepers at Rona Lighthouse until automation in 1975.
On Raasay is Calum’s Road, named after Calum MacLeod, a crofter on the north of Raasay. He had also worked on the supply boat taking stores and relieving keepers at Rona Lighthouse. For a time he was also a relief keeper for the Rona Lighthouse. Following automation in 1975, he became the attendant.
Owing to the dwindling population at the north of the island, there was no road between Arnish and Brochel. After numerous failed attempts to get the local council to build one, Calum decided to build a road himself. It was to take him around 15 years to build nearly two miles of road, using just a pick, wheelbarrow and his bare hands. The single-track road with 20 passing places, once completed, was finally tarmacked by the Council after several more years of campaigning by MacLeod.
Calum died in 1988 soon after its completion, and the road became known as Calum’s Road in his honour.