Digital Pictures Index

17 Oct 12   Staffin, Isle of Skye.

Mostly cloudy with a bitterly cold east wind.

At the high point of the Staffin - Uig road.  Waiting in vain, while gradually freezing to death,
for the sun to rise over the clouds which were spreading rapidly from the south-east.

I got chatting to another photographer and, over a cuppa in the campervan, he told me that later today the Staffin
farmer Iain MacDonald would be swimming his cattle over to Staffin Island for the winter.  He is the last crofter in
Scotland to swim cattle to winter grazing and, after appearing on TV and in the newspapers, has become something
of a tourist attraction.  Low tide was at 2.30pm so I had plenty of time to thaw out in the Columba 1400 cafe.

Staffin Bay.

Video crew heading for the slipway.

More video crew arriving, along with the cattle and spectators.

Waiting for the boats to get into position.

The cows were getting restless....

...and started heading back down the road.

...but were soon rounded up again.

Ian MacDonald in his rowing boat with the media boat standing by.

With Iain MacDonald in position the signal was given and the cows
started to head for the beach, slowly at first across the pebbles.

I had expected them to meander slowly into the sea but once off the pebbles they
stampeded across the sand and straight into the water.  I dashed after them but
was too late to get any shots of them actually splashing into the sea.

The media crew seem to be doing a fair job of herding them across.

Safely across.

It was all over in ten minutes.

Thanks to Gordon Jack for the tip-off.

Update - sadly, Gordon died in April 2015 at the age of 47 while photographing the rehearsal for Ian Murray's wedding.

Pictures (Gordon's I think) and article about today's crossing in the Mail Online

and a BBC report and video of the spring 2011 crossing includes an interview with Ian MacDonald.

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