National Geographic : 1961 Apr
Scotland From Her Lovely Lochs and Seas We went to a place called Boreraig at the Atlantic end of Loch Dunvegan, where the MacCrimmons, historic pipers to the chiefs of MacLeod, for 300 years held a famous pip ing college. Dame Flora made the journey from her castle by boat, with a piper deafen ing all hands in the bows, a wild and moving sound somehow right for those parts. The finer points of all this piping were ex plained to us by Seton Gordon, well-known Highland naturalist and writer and himself a noted judge of the bagpipes (page 510). We found Seton, like other thoughtful High landers, much concerned with the problem of depopulation. Skye's permanent population, he said, was three thousand down since the last census of more than eight thousand. For many young people cannot find employment at home. Tourists, though welcome and plen tiful, are not a complete answer. What the Highlands and islands need are people-per manent residents. "They are closing our Boreraig school for the lack of children to attend it," said a local lady, somewhat sorrowfully, but added brightly that a baby was born there last week! They need more than one baby to get that school to open again. North to the Outer Hebrides It had been my plan to sail around Skye and among the small islands, and then to make for Oban and Loch Linnhe and so into the Caledonian Canal. That way would bring us to Loch Ness where we had, I hoped, a date with the famous monster reputed to live there. But now here we were on Skye, and the wind set in southwest, with forecast of fresh westerlies to follow. Why not sail over the Minch to the romantic Isle of Lewis, and roam for a while among the Outer Hebrides (map, page 496). So we used that favoring wind and sailed forthwith to visit them while the chance was with us, northbound from Skye toward the Isle of Lewis. The Vikings had sailed this way. The Picts and Scots had sailed here in flimsy craft, and the Irish in their curraghs. Where they could go, Old Hands, Their Average Age 68, Man a Drifter in the Minch Drifters earned their name by shutting off power and gliding with the current over herring grounds. They trail mile long nets. Radium was built in 1904, when that element's discovery was still news. The author, who met her crew at Stornoway, fished with them for a night. Recently Radium was sold to a navigation school in Aberdeen to teach recruits. "We are all finished with the sea," says her owner, William James Campbell, "and our lifelong time at the fishing." Fresh winds, racing tides, and uneven bottom make sailing hazardous in the Minch, a tricky strait between Scotland and the Outer Hebrides.