*Please check out our gallery links at the bottom of this page.
Over the years many people have asked us why we decided to rebuild the old ruins. The truth is that it goes all the way back to the point where Mary and I first met. Mary had some holidays from her nursing in Glasgow and headed home to South Uist to see her parents (to tell them all about this wonderful new boyfriend!). A few days later I received a postcard from Uist with a picture of a thatched cottage and a message saying that the small window was her room (I knew fine well they did not live in a thatched cottage but Mary will have you believe that I fell for her nonsense). Anyhow, upon Mary’s return I mentioned that there were ruined cottages on my Grandparents croft in Elgol on Skye and wouldn’t it be a novel idea to rebuild them. Well that was back in 1990, the same year that Mary and I got hitched.
The idea of thatched cottages was set on the mantlepiece and there it stayed. That was until we were given the fantastic opportunity when my Grandmother decided to pass the croft on to myself, her only grandson. This was in 1993. This year also brought the the patter of tiny feet and it was the perfect point in our lives to make the move to Skye. That was Mary and Mairi moved to Skye, later to be joined by Patrick. I commuted back and forth to Livingstone initially and then more laterally Inverness in my career as an engineer (I was like a mercenary using my income to fund our crazy project).
It was not until 1998 after building our own house did the concept of thatched cottages resurface. It was one of those situations in your life where it’s either now or never and after many hours of discussions we came to the conclusion that we really did want to go for it.
Planning permission took a considerable effort but were finally granted permission to build 2 thatched cottages in July of 1999. One of the first things to do was clear the existing site, I felt a bit like a traitor when we reversed the JCB up to the cottages and effectively started to pull down what was my ancestors home. There were many occasions when we wondered what we had taken on.
The stonework was one of the largest jobs to be done and I must admit, it was a fantastic feeling seeing the stonework all going back into a living building. We finished the first of the two cottages and took our very first booking on Saturday the 26th May 2001. It was also the day we had Lachie Mashes 70th birthday in our own house, I don’t remember much besides a very sore head on the Sunday morning. It was for me the climax of 2 years non stop work and by goodness I needed a beer!
The second cottage was ready a couple of months later and that was us up and running. It was a great success and with the carrot of being able to live at home we decided to take the plunge and build a third cottage. Having learnt lots along the way the third cottage went up faster and was ready in late 2003. Again, we had great success with the cottage.
The fourth and most definitely final cottage was built in 2007. By this point stone was becoming rather hard to come by and as any decent stonemason will tell you ‘there is stone and there is stone’. During the building of the final 2 cottages I don’t know how many tonnes of stone I was told to take away and not to be silly! When I think back, the poor car.
Well I finally made the move home for good in 2009 and so far the kids have not gone hungry. In fact, Mairi moved out and headed for University in Edinburgh in 2011 to study business management and psychology, and Patrick to University in Aberdeen in 2012 to study all things architecture. The poor lad saw nothing but building during his entire childhood.
Did we do the right thing all those years ago when we decided to go for it? Who knows, but there are 4 bonnie cottages of which we are both very proud.