The coast of the Isle of Skye holds and records the memories of multiple generations. Collective Coast portrays our changing relationship with the waters around the island. By gathering knowledge from residents past and present, CLIMAVORE hopes to deepen, preserve and widen the island’s coastal heritage to envision new futures. 

Personal stories, memories, recipes, songs, experiences of gathering seaweeds and shells, folklore and traditions are key knowledge for a shared understanding of what the coast once was and what it can be. 

These memories, documents and stories will be the foundation of the project’s larger aim to create a permanent coastal heritage centre in Skye, promoting education; historical and scientific research of coastal ecologies of the island - learning from the past and envisioning the future.

It is our ambition to rethink ways of working with, on and along the coast and waters. An understanding of how the coast has been transformed over the centuries can allow us to consider more local coastal foods that regenerate the environment they operate in, support collective efforts towards the creation of the tidal commons, build new circular and alternative economies, and create long-term employment opportunities for young people.

This page brings together some films, archival audio and images to inspire you to think about this and in turn share some of your own stories and hopes for Skye’s coastal future. You can share your thoughts here.

Here you can listen to the launch of Collective Coast on Radio Skye:

Crofting in Skye (SEFA, 1939, 12.41 mins). Silent film documenting the daily life and activities on a croft in Camustianavaig, near Portree on Isle of Skye. This includes catching salmon and walking to Portree to sell them to A Powrie & Co. at Bayfield. Source: Leabharlann Nàiseanta na h-Alba / National Library of Scotland. WATCH

FILM: We’ve selected some videos that relate to coastal heritage, why not watch them to see if they remind you of any personal memories? You could share them with relatives young and old to see what they think has changed in how we relate to the sea using this link
All videos courtesy of National Library of Scotland, Moving Image Archive

Salmon Fishing in Skye (SEFA, 1938, 8 mins). This short film shows salmon fishermen at work at Braes in the Isle of Skye. The men are shown mending and sorting their nets and bringing in their catch. The Nereid boat is captured, which was the main one used to transport ice and supplies from Portree to the island’s salmon stations. Source: Leabharlann Nàiseanta na h-Alba / National Library of Scotland. WATCH
'Cutting Seaware, Skye.' c.1890s. Source: J Valentine & Co, courtesy Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre.

PHOTOGRAPHS: Here’s a selection of photographs and postcards relating to the coastal heritage of Skye. Do you remember collecting seaweed - or do you still? How did you know where to go and when? What did you make with it? Skye and Portree and around Bayfield used to be important in the salmon industry. Do you have any memories relating to this or the ice house on the harbour? Share your own stories with us using this link.

'Crofters' Cottages, Skye,' 1890s. Crofters cottages were built along the coast, which provided them with plentiful seaweed for their fertiliser. The crofter cottages were blown by wind from the sea; that carried salts and shells onto the land. The shellsand, blown onto the crofter's land, added calcium to the soil which strengthened the crops. The calcium flowed from shell to wind, from wind to land, from land to root and crop - eventually flowing to the meals and bodies of the crofter themselves. Image source: J Valentine & Co, courtesy Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre.
'Girl With Creel', 1880s, Mark Butterworth. The women of Skye worked the heavy labour entailed in the tides, where they gathered seaweeds. They could be seen along the coasts, climbing up very steep rock faces and braving freezing waves, with 'loads on their back enough for a horse'. Seaweed gathering occurred mainly in the break of spring, where tides washed huge growths of seaweeds ashore. The sheltered east-sides of Skye were set apart in districts and shorn in regular bursts, as the tides washed the weed in dependable brackets across the shore. The storm-prone west-side would build up masses of seaweed after large storms. Image source: Priscus, Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre / Am Baile Highland History and Culture.
'Repairing salmon nets, Bayfield, Portree', 1940s/1950s. Source: James/David Banks Collection, courtesy Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre.
'Preparing Bait', 1900s/1910s, Willie John Smith. Source: Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre/ Am Baile Highland History and Culture.
'Planting Potatoes, Sconser,' c.1890. The crofters of Skye, the Hebrides and the Western Isles used seaweeds to fertilise the lands they crofted. "Lazy Beds" (fiannegan) are long, narrow raised beds, built by layering turf with seaweed and seaweed with turf. In the damp ground, the seaweed rotted amongst the ditch, transporting nutrients from the seas to the hillside grounds. Growth of seaweed and potatoes followed each-other in the turn of spring. The February spring tides of seaweed folded into the lazy beds as they arrived ashore, fertilising the land in time for the spring-planted crops. Image source: J Valentine & Co, courtesy Edinburgh Central Library.
'The Nereid', c.1950s/60s. The Nereid would take fishing supplies and ice out from Portree, towards Skye's many salmon stations. The catch was divided into salmon, grilse and trout, with grilse numbers being the highest. The total annual catch was approximately 3000 fish in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Image source: James/David Banks Collection, courtesy Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre.

SOUND: Delve into the past with these oral history recordings. What do they make you think of? Share your own stories with us using this link.
All audio courtesy of Tobar an Dualchais/Kist o Riches archive.

You can also share your thoughts or memories writing to katharine@climavore.org

Mar a thòisich iasgach a' sgadain anns an Eilean Sgitheanach [How herring fishing started in Skye]. Recorded in Braes, Isle of Skye. 1955, 3.40 mins. At one time, the only fishing in Skye was from a 'cairidh' (weir). When the weir was knocked down by factors, fishing in Skye stopped. Boats from the south fished the herring in the area and there were curing stations on the shore.

Nan MacKinnon, Lifting winkles, barnacles and making carageen with milk – Barnable soup (1:48-2:50)

Donald Alasdair Johnston, Collecting Dulse on Sunday’s when the tide was out – washing it in cold water and eating it (0:15-0.52)

Nan MacKinnon, Caraidhean - description of the fish traps (2:50-3.44)

Dr Alasdair MacLean, Talks about Salmon in the river Snizort – 80 salmon is taken out each year in 1995, whereas it used to be 1000. The are doing work to restore the caraidhean and also to strengthen the banks where there has been erosion (0:00-2:04)

Kate Dix, Hermit Crabs can be more useful than husbands! (0:00-0:50)