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!
Skyeskyns was proud to welcome HRH The Princess Royal in July 2014 for a visit to help celebrate the firm’s 30th anniversary.
The Five-Star visitor attraction in Waternish, which makes and supply finest quality sheepskins, also used the opportunity to recognise members of the local community who contributed to Skyeskyns success.
The Princess Royal had a guided tour of the tannery and showroom with Jess Hartwell, whose family own and run the business, before being given the chance to meet Skyeskyns staff, as well as members of the Waternish community, at a marquee reception.
She also met representatives from businesses who work alongside Skyeskyns, supplying their luxury products for the showroom: Johnstons of Elgin, Hebridean Woolhouse and Devonia Sheepskins. The Princess Royal unveiled a plaque to commemorate her visit and was presented with a sheepskin.
The visit was an opportunity to showcase Skyeskyns’ role as the only remaining commercial sheepskin tannery in Scotland, using only the most traditional, time-honoured methods.
The business employs a number of local people and retains its close links to the Skye crofting community. When Clive and Lydia Hartwell founded the tannery in 1983, sheepskins were considered a waste product, but Skyeskyns saw the potential to make the industry more sustainable, transforming these fleeces into part of the range of luxury products.
Jess Hartwell, daughter of the founders, recognised the profound contribution her late father Clive Hartwell gave over several decades to the local community. As she said in her welcome speech:
“Clive was hugely proud of the Waternish community and the way local businesses on Skye support and sustain each other. By working together he felt – as I do – that we have been creating a durable and thriving business community here in the beautiful wilds of Waternish.
“As we move now from one generation to the next, we continue to uphold his core values: craftsmanship, outstanding customer service and pride in telling the story of leather, one of the most ancient skills, passed down through generations over time.”
The importance of community and strong local support was clear throughout the visit. Skyeskyns used the opportunity to thank all those around Skye and beyond who had contributed to their development over the years, from Waternish resident Angan MacDonald, who dug the foundations of the tannery, through to Highlands and Islands Enterprise, who helped facilitate its most recent expansions.
It was testament to the efforts of a great many, Jess said, that Skyeskyns had again been confirmed as maintaining its five star visitor attraction rating.
The pioneering role of the VisitWaternish tourism partnership was also praised at the event. Through this initiative, Clive, together with Stein Inn and Dandelion Designs, created a strong, self-sustaining network of businesses that led to Waternish being the first part of Skye to be effectively open for business all year round. The benefits from this, in terms of local employment opportunities, have been clear to see in recent years.
The importance of local businesses working together was also reflected by the Princess Royal in her own speech when she said:
“It is a real pleasure to see a business - which is such a family business - take such pride in what it produces. It’s the quality of the product which has made the success, and the network and the support of the community is equally an integral part of it. Businesses like these do make such a difference to attracting people’s attention to what is going on here.
“It’s really nice to see the quality of work in a product which sadly had become seen as waste. It isn’t. This is a really good quality product which a lot of people would hanker after, and you have the ability to find it here.
“For businesses like this [the internet] can make a real difference, and I hope that will be part of being able to build your success. I mean we’re not looking 30 years down the line, we’re looking a lot further than that. So my best wishes for the future and my congratulations on what you’ve achieved here - it’s a pleasure to see.”
At the end of the visit, the whole family was even involved, as Her Royal Highness was presented with three sheepskin teddy bears for her own grandchildren by Clive and Lydia’s grandson Ruairidh and his friends Katie and Ciara.
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By Roz Skinner
The hot, spicy smell of delicious cuisine, the loud thump of an upbeat song and the springy feel of straw underfoot - all were to be found at Skye Live, the music festival at The Lump, Portree on April 3rd and 4th.
The hard work and careful planning put in by the festival’s organisers, Niall Munro and Ali MacIsaac, was obvious. Little details, such as glowing lights strung across the railings, the Talisker Bar in one of the marquees, the effort made to ensure good soundproofing and the real enthusiasm Niall and Ali had for their event helped to make the festival truly memorable.
Niall and Ali had long thought of organising a large-scale festival to utilize the iconic and beautiful location that is The Lump. With great views of Portree and the harbour, as well as being close to the town centre, it proved to be an excellent location for visitors and locals to enjoy. Various vendors provided gorgeous edibles (and very welcome warm coffee!) In keeping with the fun atmosphere of the day, The Hat Stand sold many amusing and varied hats!
On the first day, acts such as Hot Chip (Felix Martin), Andrew Weatherall & Sean Johnston (a Love From Skye set), Jasper James, Ali McFly, Munroso, Ali Maclennan entertained from four o’clock onwards. The rain swept across the Lump, but nothing could dampen the cheerful atmosphere created by the dance beats!
The second day featured more traditional acts, the first being SkyeFall at 12:00 PM. Other acts included Doc Livingstone + Brendan Martin, Amy Baillie, Sinks Ships, Fat Suit, Niteworks, Shooglenifty, Peatbog Faeries and Niall’s father, ex-Run-Rig singer, Donnie Munro. Images depicting various scenes from bygone Skye were projected onto the screen behind the acts, juxtapositioning the modern songs with Skye’s history.
The appeal of Skye Live was shown by how far people came to hear the acts. Tickets had been sold all over the world and those present hailed from as near as Struan on Skye, and as far away as Canada! Comments from the festival-goers included positive remarks about the music, the atmosphere and a great deal of praise for the hard work of Niall and Ali.
Earlier in the year, Niall and Ali told The Skye Magazine they were aiming to create a “fun, friendly, upbeat festival.” I think we can safely say they were resoundingly successful!
By Mike Briggs
As they huddled, shoulder-to-shoulder, in their sodden trenches outside the French town of Festubert on the night of May 17th 1915, the men from Portree would have found only one thing vaguely familiar: the weather. According to official reports the 17th was a day of heavy rain and low clouds.
But whereas at home on Skye the cloud might just lift to give a momentary glimpse of the distant, majestic Cuillins or the mystical, moody Quirang, here in the bloody battlefields of the Somme the only view would be one of mud, shell holes, barbed wire and the all too proximate ramparts of the German front line.
There would be no larks rising from these spring meadows. The friends from Portree had left all that behind when they marched out of the village in autumn 1914, expecting to teach the Kaiser a swift lesson and return to their crofts before the year was out.
Their hopes were cruelly shattered, most tellingly in the Battle of Festubert which, over ten days, would claim 16,000 lives, among them 11 men of the Portree Territorial Batallion - known locally as The Saturday Night Soldiers - who were part of the 4th Cameron Highlanders regiment.
Two months earlier, Private John Kennedy, who worked for MacBrayne’s Ferries, had been the first of the Portree men to fall, fatally injured at the battle of Neuve-Chapelle, a terrible strategic failure during which 11,000 troops were killed, wounded or missing.
After the war 104 names would eventually be engraved on the Portree memorial, but it was at Festubert that the German maxim guns cut the mightiest single swathe through this small, Gaelic-speaking community of just 1,000 souls.
Now, 100 years on, the sacrifice of these men is being honoured in a series of events where Festubert and the Great War in general are to be discussed, explored and commemorated.
On Friday 15th May there is a conference in Portree’s Aros Centre with contributions from local and national historians. Professor Ewen Cameron, Trevor Royle and Professor Marjory Harper were all scheduled to speak.
The event is being coordinated by the Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre which will have a year-long exhibition called “An Cogadh Mór: Remembering the Great War in Skye and Lochalsh”.
On the evening of Saturday 16th May there is a musical tribute in Portree Community Centre with a theme similar to the “Shinty’s Heroes” show at last year’s the Blas Festival. Broadcaster and shinty historian Hugh Dan MacLennan will narrate between musical contributions from Gary Innes, Allan Henderson, Linda MacLeod and others.
Earlier on the same day the focus is on the links, as rivals on the playing field and comrades on the battlefield, between the shinty teams of Skye and Kingussie.
The Portree Camerons trained in Kingussie with their counterparts before spending six months in Bedford and finally going to France in February 1915.
Many in the Portree and Kingussie companies, who fought together at Festubert, were shinty players. The Kingussie team which won the Camanachd Cup months before the outbreak of hostilities lost six members and the village itself would lose about 60 men in all. Among those killed in May 1915 was Willie MacGillivray, captain of the famed 1914 cup-winning team.
Festubert also claimed Company Sergeant Major William Ross from Portree who was part of Skye’s MacTavish Cup team in 1898. Ross was a local postman and he lied about his age so he could go to war with his mates. He was about 46 when he died.
The war claimed about 19 shinty players from Skye and it would be more than 70 years before the island club won another major senior trophy, the Camanachd Cup, in 1990. The winning team included two of Billy Ross’s great grandsons and was managed by a third.
The shinty programme over the commemorative weekend includes matches between the Skye and Kingussie senior teams, Portree and Kingussie primary schools, and the Skye and Badenoch ladies’ teams. The Skye second team will play Forces shinty club Scots Camanachd.
On the Saturday evening there is a civic reception hosted by Highland Council and on Sunday 17th one of Scots Camanachd’s former players, Padre Hector MacKenzie from Kilmuir on Skye, leads a commemorative service including a remembrance parade in Somerled Square, Portree, led by British Legion members from Kingussie and Skye.
By Kevin Delaney
Skye’s not the limit for ambitious seaplanes boss David West.
In fact, he is certain that the world famous island with its 360 degrees of breath-taking views is THE place to make his aerial business soar to even greater heights.
For David, who set up his successful Loch Lomand Seaplanes business in 2003, has now set his sights on opening up the fantastic vistas and views of the rugged misty isle with its high mountain ridges and stunning sea lochs to those who want to get a real bird’s eye view of all there is to see.
David, who has over 35 years experience in the cockpit, is offering flights of between 40 and 70 minutes which not only cover Skye but can go as far as the Outer Hebrides, Lochaber and the Wester Ross coastline, the Applecross Peninsula and heading towards Loch Torridon. So, with up to 120 miles of incredible scenery to take in, not to mention a water based take-off and landing, it’s guaranteed to be an experience of a life time!
By Adam Gordon
At the modest age of 30 years old, Calum Munro’s passion and aptitude for cooking has taken him on a whirlwind journey.
It was one that began at a young age through an interest in food that he shared with his mum and sister, to working in a Michelin-starred restaurant, and then a two-year spell as a head chef in the gastronomical capital of the world.
Now Munro embarks on a new chapter in the story, with his own restaurant back where it all started for him in Portree.
Scorrybreac, open from April 2015, in the premises that formerly housed the Harbour View restaurant, follows on from a two-year seasonal pop-up project Munro operated out of his childhood home, slightly further out of the centre of the village.
The pop-up, which I had the pleasure of visiting myself back in October 2014, served delicious yet affordable food in a relaxed and informal setting. The menu centred on high quality, locally sourced ingredients and blended tradition and invention in dishes such as Scallop Mousse, Hot Smoked Salmon in a Coconut & Butternut Squash Sauce, to the more unorthodox yet equally pleasing Chocolate & Basil liquid centre cake.
Although certainly no stranger to high-calibre cuisine having worked in one of Skye’s Michelin-starred restaurants, Kinloch Lodge, as well as the opulent and demanding environment of an up-market Parisian restaurant, Munro is keen for his new venture to place the emphasis on the food as oppose to creating a rarefied environment for those visiting his restaurant.
“The food should really talk for itself and be accessible to anybody that wants to try it. I believe you can serve the food from a fine dining restaurant without having the same boundaries. I like the idea of having it very relaxed, different and open to all.’
Having spent what he reflects on as ‘a good two years’ working as a head chef in Paris, Munro admits it was during his time there that his eyes were opened to the potential on his own doorstep.
“I remember thinking there were wild salmon getting ordered from Scotland to the restaurant in Paris and langoustines from the west coast and I thought this is mad, Skye’s got so much to offer, and is a chef’s dream really, if you can make it work.”
Having grown up in Skye, Munro is certainly well placed to utilise all of the many resources the island has to offer: ‘There’s a guy I know locally who picks mushrooms; I have a supplier in Glendale for all the salad leaves and wild flowers; then there’s Viewfield Collective where you can pick your own seasonal veg, which is fantastic; I also have lots of friends who are fishermen; and I try and do foraging when I can.’
With an à la carte lunch menu also set to be added to the evening sittings, the young chef certainly has a busy time ahead of him. However, given his wealth of experience and modest personality, pressure is something that is unlikely to phase him.
So for a taste of fine-dining, informed via France but very-much made in Skye, set in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere and at affordable prices, visit Scorrybreac, the latest chapter in a journey worth being a part of.