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A thousand years ago,
the islands of the West Coast were ruled by Vikings,
more Norwegian than Scottish. In fact, the name of this place,
Glensanda, is old Norse, and it means the Glen of the Sandy River.
But it's not the sand that's drawn me here, it's the rock.
This tanker is about to be loaded with 85,000 tonnes of granite
from Europe's biggest super quarry.
It's the rock that will make the roads of Britain roll.
It's quite terrifying, actually,
just the sheer mass of it, just a big steel cliff.
Glensanda quarry sits at the mouth of the Great Glen Fault, an area rich in granite.
Although the quarry is on the mainland,
it might as well be an island.
You can't get here by road, because there aren't any.
But who needs roads when you have the sea,
and water deep enough for huge ships?
Europe's biggest super quarry relies on the coast.
Rock and machinery all come and go by sea,
a challenge for Deputy Manager, David Lamb.
Hello, Neil, welcome to Glensanda. Nice to meet you.
-That was very exciting with the boat.
-It certainly was.
Most impressed! So where does it all happen?
It all starts at the top of the hill, at the top of the mountain.
It's 2,000 ft from sea level to summit,
but suddenly I get the full picture.
From here you really do get a sense of super quarry!
You certainly do. It's a big hole, isn't it?
How much of the mountain have you already taken away?
Out of this area, we've already taken one hundred million tonnes.
How much remains to be taken?
There's still almost eight hundred million tonnes left to go.
So you're kind of scratching the surface at the moment?
Yes. A big scratch, but only a scratch so far.
-Can we go and blow things up?
-We certainly can, Neil! Come on.
100 million tonnes of rock extracted in 20 years.
Now with 18 tonnes of explosive primed,
I'm about to see how they do it.
-It's very impressive, isn't it?
Can we do that again?! Right now!
If you're happy to wait another few days, yes!
Wow! It's the way it's just the slow motion, ripple.
Where does all this material go? Who uses it?
An awful lot of the rock goes into road building,
into the construction industry. Sub-bases for roads and motorways.
Almost all of the rock for the English side of the Channel Tunnel
was supplied from Glensanda.
The granite here is hard enough to withstand the pounding of trucks and trains under our roads and railways.
But what's really special is this quarry's coastal location.
The rock's crushed, graded and washed before it even gets to the quay side.
There it's loaded straight onto huge ships to be sent anywhere in the world.
The rock might not stay around long,
but the workers can sometimes live here for weeks on end.
At least they've got some big toys to play with!
It's like Jurassic Park in here!
-Do you like it here?
-Yes, very nice.
-Is it the big toys?!
-The big toys, and the views on a good day.
Kind of feels like the Wild West out here!
-Like a frontier town!
-You get used to it, you get used to it.
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