Saturday, 21 October 2017

Do You Still Fancy Living on Skye?

Some eight years ago, I wrote a post in this blog entitled; ‘Do You Fancy Living on Skye?’ You can read the post here: http://skyecalling.blogspot.co.uk/2009/11/do-you-fancy-living-on-skye.html.  To this day, it is the most-read post on this blog, with some 12,500 hits so far - so I have to assume there continue to be many romantics out there who fancy a life ‘away from it all’. Ok…I can understand that...

Photo of the Old Man of Storr by my nephew - Jeremy Tandy
However, like everywhere on our poor, overpopulated planet, Skye is changing, and fast! Don’t get me wrong – the ‘Skye Magic’ is still here for now – you would only have to have driven through the colour, the clouds and the Cuillin today – as I did – to be very fully aware that magic is very much alive and well. It was awesome. (Sorry, no photos today– I was driving…)!!!

But… you would probably also notice the new-build houses popping up all over the place. Tiny, remote settlements are no longer quite as tiny… That little isolated cottage you remember from your 2005 visit is now overlooked by two modern 5-bedroom neighbours… And there’s some wind-turbines twirling at the back of that wild moorland view… Yes – ‘Skye Magic’ is a tad harder to find these days.

Then there’s the tourism boom. I know I am not alone in suggesting that Skye is not a great place to be a tourist during the summer season. In July and August, I think there may actually be more tourists here than midges. I will decline to say which I find more irritating… It has become embarrassing to have to say to our visitors that some of the most popular beauty spots are best avoided, because there is no-where to park, no toilets, no caf├ęs, and indeed - no visitor facilities at all.

Some may say this is a good sign of progress, arguing that the Highlands need to be re-populated, and the residents need jobs and places to live. So the increase in tourism is a good thing. Well – yes, maybe good. But only if sensitively created infrastructure was keeping ahead of the increase in visitor numbers.

And it is not.

So, how does an increase in tourism affect LIVING on Skye? Well – I’ll do this as bullet points…

·         During the summer months, the roads become very much busier.
·         There are camper vans EVERYWHERE.
·         Many of the drivers are from overseas, and driving rental cars… the standard of driving  can be seriously scary.
·         The car parks in Portee are all full.
·         So are the ones in Broadford… and Dunvegan.
·         There are queues at the check-outs in the Co-op.
·         In summer, prices of goods and fuel rise.
·         Local people do not even attempt to go near any of the tourism hot spots (Fairy Pools,  Quiraing, The Storr, Fairy Glen, Coral Beach…) however; some poor souls actually  LIVE near these places…
·         The lack of public toilets means that… ugh…  I’ll leave that to your imagination.

Possibly worse than all the above – or possibly better – depending on your point of view, is that more people are coming to LIVE on Skye. As I have said above – new-build houses are popping up everywhere. Most are large, and are designed to accommodate bed and breakfast visitors. Others are being built to be self-catering accommodation for yet more visitors.

Just one positive that I can think of is that unemployment seems to have reached zero. There were two full pages of job vacancies in the latest edition of the local paper. I don’t think I have ever seen that before.

Of course – the weather here is the same as it ever was, and the roads have more potholes than before.

Do you STILL fancy living on Skye?

Of course you do!

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