The Skye Magazine is an exciting insight into Skye and Raasay, as well as providing information on new up-and-coming businesses, and new ventures on the island. The Skye Magazine in its printed form, appears once a year from May, and thousands are distributed throughout the islands.
And the on-line edition - below - is updated throughout the year with new reports, photographs and information from all across the Islands.
So, just click download, enjoy learning about the beautiful isles of Skye and Raasay, and, if you aren’t here already, make sure to plan a visit sometime soon!
Cruising in the waters off Skye and the West Highlands…but on your own terms. That's what experienced worldwide sailors Scott Atkinson and Mary Waller are offering with their new venture Red Moon Cruises.
Most visitors to Skye and adjoining Highlands miss out on the chance to see the unique views of the landscape which are available from the sea unless they join throngs of others on day trips, or arrive as part of longer cruises based elsewhere.
Now families or groups of up to four people can book to stay on the motor-sailing boat Red Moon - and travel around local waters to their own itinerary.
Scott and Mary are operating from the pontoons at Kyle of Lochalsh - easily accessible by both car and train from Inverness or beyond - but also easily available from anywhere on Skye or the local coast. Trips can vary as preferred by customers - maybe a crossing of the Highlands via the Caledonian Canal or a stop-wherever-you-want trip to the Small isles.
Would you ever take fashion inspiration from a 4,000-year-old weapon? When Sandy Leahy of Struan's Mòr Books and the Windrush Café Studio found an ancient flint arrowhead on her croft, she knew that she wanted to interpret its characteristics through the mediums of jewellery and textiles.
“I found the arrowhead in August 2012 when I was up on the croft trying to enlarge a gateway into a field,” explains Sandy. “I was breaking away rock with a spade and my hands. I went up to check on the sheep, then wandered back down and on a rock ledge I saw the Bronze Age flint arrowhead. As I picked it up, I felt like I'd had an electric shock – because this hadn't been handled in around 3,000 years!”
Armed with a vision of how she wanted the arrowhead to be used in any designs, Sandy kept a look out for someone who could help make her plans a reality. She eventually met Victoria Radcliffe at the Great Northern Craft Fair in Manchester. “Victoria studied jewellery and metalworking and I liked her pieces very much – especially a remarkable ring she had made out of river-washed slate and silver,” Sandy reveals. “I approached her with the suggestion that we work together on a series of one-off pieces to go in the Windrush Café and then expanded it to include the arrowhead.”
The result will be a limited edition of 75 necklaces in bronze cast directly from the arrowhead – a perfect tribute to the original's rippled texture and serrated edges. “They will be made in batches, but some are for sale in the Cafe now at £85 each,” Sandy explains. The necklaces have an archaic quality and yet are in no way out of place with today's styles.
Sandy's passion for textile design meant that the arrowhead would sooner or later find its way into her fabric creations. Her new collection of tubular neck scarves uses the graphic shape and evocative lines of the arrowhead in a striking pattern. Taking inspiration from antiquarian images from the 16th century, Sandy created a scarf in a subtle monochrome. She is still exploring ways of using the arrowhead in her designs, working with different materials.
The tubular scarves have great appeal due to their versatility. “You can twist them, turn them round because there is a different print on each side or wear them has a hat or hairband...” Sandy enthuses. “They are a concept - it's down to the wearer how they wear it and I like that.”
Sandy has incorporated other natural patterns into the scarf designs, saying: “I've been taking photographs for years, and always knew I wanted to use them as a textile design, but never knew how to. One time I was waiting for a train. It was lashing down with rain and I had nothing to read... but I did have a camera. I started messing around with the effects of light on the water.”
Lights reflecting on the harbour, the tail light of a car in the rain or the head lights of a taxi have now all been incorporated into Sandy's scarves as abstract explosions of colour. “I like the idea that these are just as much photographs of Skye as photographs of the Cuillins are,” she says. “I think the landscape needs a more direct and visceral reaction to it. I make what I want and I want to explore and work with others in an unmediated response to Skye.”
Sandy uses her unique vision to look past the obvious and interpret objects into wearable items of beauty. Whether she is taking inspiration from her surroundings or from a 4,000-year-old arrowhead, Sandy creates something truly individual - one-off designs from a one-off lady.
Out of the 108 reviews on travel website TripAdvisor, 93 rate Portree’s Brigadoon Sea Eagle and Wildlife Boat Trips as ‘Excellent’, with a further 10 rating as ‘Very Good’ – a superb endorsement from those who have enjoyed the daily trips aboard the Brigadoon.
Run by Peter Urquhart, owner of the Urquhart Caledonian Hotel in Wentworth Street, who was born and brought up in Skye, and skippered by Peter Elford, a passionate wildlife enthusiast, and George Burns, a retired police officer and keen angler, the Brigadoon and crew have been operating out of Portree since 1996.
The first tour company to bring sea eagle feeding to the public, last year visitors aboard the Brigadoon were treated to the sight of Britain’s largest bird of prey on 99% of trips – alongside a host of other bird and sea life.
How does a struggling artist transport a four-feet square painting to its destination using just a Mini?
This was the situation Pam Carter found herself in when she had to take an early commission from Maryhill, Glasgow to Lanarkshire.
Unable to afford professional transport, Pam strapped the painting as securely as possible to the roof of her Mini and set off along the motorway. All seemed well until the wind suddenly lifted the painting and hurled it on to the central reservation!
Although disastrous at the time, this experience is a reminder of how much Pam and her work have changed. And change is very much on Pam’s mind this year, as this is her 25th year of exhibiting at An Talla Dearg Gallery, Isle Ornsay on Skye - 25 years of growth, development and artistic adventure.
Pam’s early awakening to landscape art, for which she is now noted, came at around age 10. “It was in Africa, where I spent the first 13 years of my life. I watched a man painting and that made me observe, for the first time, the landscape,” she reveals. “As I watched him paint it, I saw the patchwork fields and the mountains come alive on paper. What he chose to include in his painting just made sense to me.”
After moving to Glasgow, Pam was accepted into the Glasgow School of Art. “We were painting a lot of statues, busts, architecture, still lives and life drawings,” she said. “But it was later, at an outpost in Culzean Castle in Ayrshire, that I discovered the cliffs and the sea. This was my first introduction to painting in the Scottish landscape
and the results were quite grey and misty with flashes of colour!”
Pam’s approach to landscape underwent another transformation when she spent two years in the Seychelles in the early 1980’s.
“I was amazed by the bright light, the wonderful turquoise waters, the creamy beaches, the big shadows of leaves on the sand...” she reminisces.
“It had a completely different feel to what I was used to. When I returned to Scotland to lecture at various art colleges, I wanted to recapture that Seychelles feel in my art but I was confused as to how.” The answer came in the form of one of Pam’s students from the Uists. “I was exhibiting in Skye and I asked her, if I got the ferry over, would she show me around? She took me to secluded beaches and I saw beautiful landscapes with amazing, ever- changing light. I was just blown away. That was my very first introduction to Uist and, from then on, I decided I would go every year to a different Scottish island.”
An island with which Pam was already familiar was Skye, where she had been invited to run her exhibition at An Talla Dearg by the acclaimed sculptor Laurence Broderick and by Sabhal Mòr Ostaig founder, Sir Iain Noble.
Pam describes her very first Skye exhibition, saying: “I was supposed to be at the Gallery itself, but there had been a fire in the offices so my exhibition was moved to the church up the road. It didn’t have very good light and I couldn’t put anything on the walls. I remember piling up a table and chairs onto another table so I could see out of the windows to paint.”
At the same time, Pam also had to advertise her exhibition. “There were no signs up, so I got a bit of cardboard and white paint and tried to write “Exhibition”, but I misjudged it and there was only room for “EXHIB...” and the “...ITION” had to go underneath!” she laughs. “Sometimes I waved it at cars, but the people who came in were mostly hitchhikers and cyclists. If it hadn’t been for the support of Sir Iain Noble and his wife, Lucilla, I may not have returned. Sir Iain was a great patron of the arts and they were very supportive. By the second year, I returned properly armed! The gallery committee at Hotel Eilean Iarmain, who organise the exhibitions, even arranged for a young piper
to pipe in the guests.” Unfortunately, the same piper, Dr Iain MacKinnon, is unavailable for Pam’s
jubilee exhibition, but she will be organising another talented young piper! “I never would have thought I would be fortunate enough to be here and run my exhibition for 25 years,” she says. “This year will be very special and I have a number of exciting things planned.” To find out what you can expect from Pam’s jubilee exhibition, you can visit her website and blog for updates.
Pam is issuing a warm invitation to Skye residents who have not yet attended the exhibition. “I am featuring a number of paintings from the north of Skye, so it would be lovely if islanders would visit from there,” she says. Those who do attend will see the Scottish islands brought to life in Pam’s paintings. Her distinctive style captures skies streaked with dramatic shades of red; rich, golden sands of Hebridean beaches, or charming images of rural life, complete with machair flowers and single track roads.
Pam Carter’s jubilee anniversary commemorates, not just 25 years of exhibiting, but the evolution of a very special artist. It opens with a private viewing on Saturday July 9th at An Talla Dearg, Isle Ornsay, Isle of Skye, IV43 8QR and runs to August 23, being open 10am-6pm Monday to Friday and 10am-4pm on Saturday and Sunday. For more jubilee news, visit Pam’s website.
Skeabost House Hotel, located just outside Portree, now combines local history with contemporary luxury.
Bought last year by Anne Gracie and Ken Gunn, owners of the Sonas Hotel Group, Skeabost boasts lavish decorations, delightful ambience and relaxing comfort - the result of extensive renovations.
Anne has been involved in hospitality services for a number of years, originally running a guest-house, self-catering and ultimately Quality Grading holiday accommodation.
“The grading background gave me excellent training so that I could evaluate quality,” Anne explains. “Ken and I purchased Toravaig House Hotel in the south of Skye and it became the first hotel in our Sonas Hotel Group.
“Ken had been Captain of Hebridean Princess and he is very driven to provide top service for the guests. Later, Duisdale House Hotel, which is just up the road from Toravaig, came on the market and we bought it in 2007.”
After acquiring Skeabost last April, the team immediately started renovating the 146-year-old hotel.
Anne says: “Our most urgent task was to provide comfort and a welcoming ambience, in the first instance, to guests visiting the hotel before quickly embarking on the refurbishing of the whole hotel along with basic maintenance which had been overlooked.
“The Hotel has such happy memories for people over the years and it was disappointing to see it go into decline. It gives us a great deal of satisfaction to restore it back to its former glory.”
One of Skeabost’s main attractions is its golf course, perfect for a relaxed but active holiday. “We are looking to increase the membership and maximise the course,” Anne reveals.
“We are also promoting the salmon fishing on seven miles of the hotel’s own Skeabost river. Permits are available at the hotel reception or from Derek, the Ghillie, at the site office.”
Guests can also enjoy sailing trips on Anne and Ken’s 50 foot luxury yacht, Solus a Chuain (Light Of The Ocean.) based at Armadale. “The perfect gift for any celebration!” says Anne.
Exciting plans are in development, including improvements to the private road to the hotel. “At the moment, we hope to have the road open by the summer. The gardens have also been lovingly tended and, within the next few years, there should be a blaze of colour from the azaleas and ornamental rhododendrons, which have newly been planted around the gardens,” said Anne.
Now that the Old Chapel, which was used as a billiard room, has been transformed into a small wedding venue and private dining room, the next plan is to install a treatment room this season.
“Together with our offering of sailing, fishing and golfing, a treatment room seemed the next obvious offering,” Anne says. “We will always be developing every year – it seems to be what Ken and I thrive on!
“In this industry, you have to look ahead and be aware of emerging trends. We have visitors from all over the world and we want them to enjoy attention to detail and top quality service levels. This philosophy has enabled us to win many awards with our other two hotels in the south of the island, Duisdale and Toravaig House Hotels.”
Whether you are a visitor looking for an exciting holiday or, if you live locally, Duisdale, Toravaig and Skeabost House Hotels are splendid countryside getaways.