For the benefit of anyone planning a visit to Skye, or anyone else who is simply interested - I thought I'd attempt a thumbnail description of what Skye is actually like, starting from a wider perspective...
Skye is an island in the Inner Hebrides, and part of The Scottish Highlands and
Islands. The region is
not densely populated. Only 4% of the population of Scotland live in the entire Highlands ( Scotland total 5.3 million), though the
Highlands occupy HALF the land area of Scotland. The west Highlands are arguably more scenic,
having many sea lochs as well as the islands and mountains. Inland,
are vast areas of undisturbed moorland, freshwater lochs and more mountains.
There aren't many roads, but the main roads have been upgraded over the years
and are mostly two-way traffic now. There is a fine
bridge connecting the Isle of Skye to
In the Highlands, Inverness and
Fort William are the largest towns. They are both some 80 miles by road from the . Inverness (pop. 41,000) is a
centre for retail trades supplying the entire Highlands, so there are many
large warehouse type outlets selling everything needed for all the businesses
and trades in the Highlands (tourism and sheep farming are the biggest
industries here). Skye Bridge (pop. 10,000) is more of a
tourist centre, but is not a specially attractive town. Both places have good
public transport links to the rest of Fort William Scotland (rail, bus, coach) andInverness has
an airport too.
Skye is world-renowned as a holiday destination for many reasons....The island is bigger than many people realise, being about 50 miles long and 25 wide. It has so many scenic inlets and 'arms', you can see the sea from almost everywhere, and it would be a challenge to visit every corner of the island an a week, even if you drove all day every day. There is folk lore and history round every turn. The island is the ancestral home of both Clan MacDonald and Clan MacLeod. The complex geology of the island means the landscape and even the flora is different in different parts of the island. On the coast, there are towering cliffs (more than 1000 feet in places), rocky shores and sandy bays. Inland is mostly hilly heather moorland, with the dramatic bare-rock Cuillin mountains visible from just about all over the island. Considering how far north we are (latitude 57 degrees north - the Arctic Circle is 66 degrees) the climate is gentle - summer daytime temperatures often reach 17-18C (mid-60s F), winter nights seldom drop much below freezing (on the coast). But we get a lot of rain and strong winds, especially in winter. We have unpolluted air, dark night skies (can't believe the number of stars you can see) and a quality of daylight that has to be experienced to understand. We have a wide variety of wildlife - Golden eagles, Sea eagles, Otters, Whales, Dolphins, Basking sharks, Red deer, huge seabird colonies.....
According to the 2011 census, around 10,000 people live on Skye. This is an increase of 8% since the 2001 census. But we are an aging population - the number of children aged 0-15 living on Skye is predicted to fall by 32% by 2035. Traditionally, agriculture brought the main income, first cattle, latterly sheep. But today, tourism and all its associated trades is the chief employer. There's virtually no crime. The cost of housing is higher on Skye than on the
Highland mainland, but the influx of many thousands
of tourists every summer means that, on the whole, we have a reasonable
infrastructure of services. Whereas mainland villages may offer slightly
cheaper housing, they may be many, many miles from the nearest shop or medical
centre. Public transport here is poor, however. Getting about requires a car.
The general cost of living (food, fuel, etc) is much the same as anywhere in the
Highlands, but higher than in lowland Scotland or
most of England.
If you find the above interesting, maybe it's time you planned a visit...!