Wednesday 21 September 2016

Exciting Skye... Or Maybe Not...?

I have in front of me the 9th September edition of our local newspaper - the West Highland Free Press (it's not free, it costs 75p). I grabbed it at random from the magazine rack in the lounge. Just to give you a flavour of the exciting events that make it into print here on the Isle of Skye, I'll describe below some of the contents of this paper...

Front page headline: 'Fresh Fears For Portree Hospital'.This is a story that has been ongoing for a while. We have two tiny and ageing hospitals on Skye, and there is a proposal to reduce the status of Portree and build a new hospital to replace the existing one in Broadford. To put this in perspective... I quote from the WHFP 'There are currently seven patients at the hospital [Portree] so at present it is closed to new admissions'. Yes, that is single digit SEVEN - not seventy, or seven-hundred...!  Can you imagine how many doctors, nurses, other hospital staff (and everyone else needed to maintain a hospital) are employed to keep this hospital open?? Can you wonder that the NHS is struggling?  But then again - our nearest 'big' hospital is in Inverness... 130 miles away. How far would you have to go to your nearest major hospital? I'm glad I do not responsible for making decisions about where the finite amount of NHS money should be spent!

So, on to page 2...'Mallaig Lifeboat Called Out'... apparently a fishing boat began taking on water, but both boat and crew of two were safely rescued. Phew!

Page 5 features a large photograph of many sheep, under which is the headline: 'Large Entry of Lambs in Portree Auction Mart This Week'. Apparently they were selling for an average of £37.49 each, which is 50p less than last year. It's not much fun being a lamb...

On Page 7, under another big photo, this time of a lifeboat, is the headline: 'Kyle RNLI Planning For Another Successful Maritime Day' - this refers to a forthcoming annual open day, which (weather permitting) (!!) will include the local kayaking club, an obstacle race and rope throwing competition....
I can barely contain my excitement...

After that major highlight,  the paper lapses into several pages of semi-advertising articles about local businesses and writers. Then there's a letters page - all the usual complaints about the council not doing the right things for road safety and the state of the Scottish economy.

Finally, there follows a 'what's on' page (lots of little events at local community halls) and a couple of pages of small ads from local businesses, with the back few pages being given over to sport - no, not football here, but shinty. Every photo is of a stick-wielding male. Are women allowed to play shinty? Are any other sports played on Skye? You would not think so from the coverage here.

The West Highland Free Press website is at: , and if you really want to fully immerse yourself in the excitement of life on Skye, you can have the paper posted to your home - just click on the 'subscriptions' tab on the whfp website.

Same Blog - Different 'Look'

Regular visitors to Skye Calling will have noticed that I have changed the look of our blog. I just thought it was time for an update! All that has changed is a few background colours and images and maybe a font or two - everything else remains as before, and all the previous posts are unaltered.

The new banner photo is just one of many fantastic sunsets we see out of the windows of Roskhill Barn.

Sunday 11 September 2016

AN EXCITING DAY (posted by Sue)

It is just six months since we lost our very dear friend,
 Rosalind Burgess and those who knew  her
miss her tremendous warmth, gregarious personality
 and lust for life!

Rosalind's wee cottage and her lovely garden!

There are a lot of us left behind and amongst them,
a lovely couple, - Robert and Anne, living on the nearby 
Isle of Soay, south-west of Skye.
I was in contact with them after Rosalind's passing 
and have been doing so ever since and 
recently received an invitation to attend 
'a Book Signing' of Anne's account of life on Soay, - 
'Island on the Edge'  How exciting!!
I duly drove down last Sunday morning through 
THE most amazing scenic route to the appropriate
spot at Elgol Pier.   It was an incredible day and the photos
I took were numerous......!

This is one of the views from my car en-route to Elgol

It was lovely to finally meet up with Anne and Robert
basking in glorious sunshine down by the pier!
They had lots of support from friends and neighbours
and were kept busy throughout the day....

Anne and Robert at Elgol Pier proudly present 
'Island on the Edge' !

After soaking up some sunshine, chatting and
enjoying such a convivial atmosphere I left 
for the journey home clutching five books.
Along the way I encountered just a few lovely panoramas!

The view of The Cuillin from Elgol Pier

 There were similar breathtaking views like this around every corner!

Looking back at Bla Bheinn 

Puffy white clouds and a blue sky frame Beinn na Caillich!

Back in Broadford the weather was still amazing so 
I decided to go for a walk to take in some of the 
more local scenery.....

The view across Broadford Bay from the Co-Op carpark.....

I just love the vivid blue of this beautiful scabious plant!

Just look at that beautiful sky.....

..... and it just gets better and better.
This was taken just before Struan, en-route home to Dunvegan.

A picnic bench with evening views towards MacLeods Tables

And finally:

A spectacular sky above MacLeods Tables about two minutes from 
home at Roskhill......

What a day! :)

Sunday 4 September 2016

Skye Sighs… Peace is Returning !

Now, as each day passes, there are greater gaps appearing between the convoys of camper vans that lumber onto Skye over the bridge. Timid left-hand-driver overseas visitors in their right-hand-drive rental cars are becoming fewer and further between. There are even a few empty spaces in the car park in Portree. Skye and its residents breathe a collective sigh of relief. The summer season is coming to an end.

The powerful promotion of the Scottish Highlands, and Skye in particular, as a tourist destination has been very successful. Year on year our visitor numbers are increasing, and it is a delight to see so many people discovering this most fabulous part of the world. But at what cost?

In ‘our’ part of Skye, we have three natural attractions that have been much promoted on social media with brightly coloured over-photoshopped images. These are the Fairy Pools, the Coral Beach and Neist Point. All lie at or near the end of several miles of single track road. The car parks at each of them are tiny, and there are no other facilities such as shops, cafes or toilets. Just about every visitor heads for one or all of these locations, with the result being blocked roads with damaged verges, and damage to some of the rental cars and camper vans too. It is hard to imagine how a visit to a crowded and muddy ‘scenic’ location is going to leave a visitor with the best impression of what they have seen.

For me, the silence and solitude on Skye is a big part of the island’s magic. Somehow, Skye needs to find a balance between providing for the numbers of summer visitors without spoiling the wild and ethereal beauty of the landscape. It would be good if fewer visitors came in July and August, and more came in winter. November to March, Skye is empty of visitors, but the scenery is still here! Sure, the daylight hours are shorter, and it‘s a bit colder, but rain is not much more likely, and there will probably be snow on the hills which adds to the majesty of every scene. Some of the touristy shops will be closed – but consider that a bonus! The canny folk see Skye at its sparkling best by visiting in April/May or October.

Plans are in place to provide visitor facilities and larger car parks at one or two popular Skye attractions, but I would hate to see our single track roads being widened, visitor centres created, and over-commercialism kill the essence of this lovely land – though for now at least, I know plenty of spectacular secret and virtually unvisited locations to sneak off to while the crowding tourists fight for a parking place at one of the more congested spots.