Many crofters offer accomodation to tourists, either in holiday cottages or through Bed and Breakfast in their own homes, but there are examples of other approaches.
A good example of a diversified croft business is Air an Lot at Ness on the Isle of Lewis. ‘Air An Lot is run by Donald Macsween, a young crofter born and raised in the district of Ness, in the north end of Lewis. Donald comes from a crofting family, who have been on this land for almost 200 years, and has spent his life tending to livestock and working the land in the village of North Dell. As with most crofters, sheep are the main focus at Air An Lot, with Cheviots and Blackfaces the main breeds. Air An Lot also has a flock of Lohmann-Brown hens, which supply free range croft eggs to outlets throughout Lewis. As well as the sheep and hens, there are also pigs, ducks and turkeys to be seen, meaning a variety of animals and experiences.’
Air an Lot is well known as a result of the BBC ALBA series ‘An Lot’ which follows Donald (Sweeny) through his daily activities on the croft. Donald has worked as a Gaelic broadcaster for many years and his broadcasting activities have supplemented his crofting income together with offering a form of crofting tourism through ‘working visits’ for paying guests.
Katie MacLeod, a journalist who writes a travel column entitled ‘Stories My Suitcase Could Tell’, described her visit to Air an Lot.
Examples of Croft Accommodation
Mangersta Croft Wigwams, Uig, Isle of Lewis. ‘Our 2 wooden glamping cabins are situated in the idyllic coastal village of Mangersta in Uig, Isle of Lewis. This National Scenic Area is particularly noted for its numerous white shell sand beaches, rocky coves, turquoise waters, dramatic cliffs, gentle machair grasslands carpeted with wild flowers during the summer months and rich biodiversity of wildlife. We keep a small herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle, Hebridean and Blackface sheep, poultry, grow fodder crops and vegetables on our working croft.’
Bluebell Croft, Self-catering, Strontian, Ardnamurchan, Lochaber. ‘Bluebell Croft offers luxury self-catering in the Highlands. Honeysuckle House sleeps 8 & Rose Cottage sleeps 4, both properties may be combined. Both have Category 1 disabled access downstairs. The Croft is a marvellous place to relax with breath-taking mountain views, and a perfectly situated hot-tub. Well behaved dogs welcome.’
Ivy Cottage, self-catering, Heights of Brae, Strathpeffer, Ross-Shire. ‘Ivy Cottage is a 4 Star Visit Scotland approved cottage on a working croft in the hills above scenic Strathpeffer in the heart of the Scottish Highlands. . It sleeps 6 and is open all year round. The croft is primarily a sheep enterprise with the star of the show being our working collie Shep. Join us during the month of April for lambing, mid-summer for shearing or early autumn to help us at the lamb sales locally in Dingwall or just be made welcome by Shep all year round.’