80-year-old crofter on Skye

Photo credit: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire; the Herald

An article in the Herald today writes:

“Iain Macdonald is thought to be the last person in Scotland to move his animals this way.

His 19 cows took around 15 minutes to swim approximately 100 metres (328ft) from Skye to nearby Staffin island, where they will graze for three months.

Mr Macdonald, 80, first swam the cows over to the island in 1950, and used to swim with them himself. However the crofter, who lives on Skye, now accompanies them by boat.

He said: ‘It could not have gone better today. It takes about 15 minutes for them to swim and we have a boat on either side to keep them together.’

‘We save a lot of money by grazing them on the island, and they will be in good condition when they come off.’ ”

Photo credit: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire; the Herald

(I kind of feel I need to make a comment here as this is not my usual sort of post about taking trains and eating cheese.  I just think it’s amazing that this man who is in his 80th year is still doing this the old-school way.  My hat’s off to him and I think it’s great that there have been a few people writing about him.  I am sure if I was a bit more proficient and had a bit more time I could probably find some great history on this way of moving cows from one place to another. Maybe some of you can help me out and give me some info on this.  Cheers!)

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7 thoughts on “80-year-old crofter on Skye

  1. I have heard of this before but I didn’t know about this particular chap. I agree with you, it’s wonderful that he’s still moving his cattle in this way. I wonder if he really is the last one, I could imagine there might be a few others dotted around the distant outposts of Scotland, possibly only in the islands and other remote spots. Crofters keep a number of old traditions alive, and there’s something very nice about knowing that they do.

    1. I agree that there may very well be others who still do this. I’d like to learn more about crofting. I don’t know if I would be strong enough to take it on but it would be interesting to learn more about it.

  2. I know it is in Virginia (USA), but if you’ve read Misty of Chincoteague, you know about swimming horses from one island in to another. They still do this. They swim ponies from Assateague to Chincoteague. I have not been there during Pony Penning Day, but have heard it is quite interesting. This story made me think of it. Bet it is cool to watch plus you are in Scotland on the Skye!

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