Young families wanted to become crofters on Skye

It is a labour-intensive job that is normally passed from one generation to the next.

Crofts, such as this one on the Isle of Lewis, ownly rarely become available for sale on the open market. Picture: Allan Milligan/TSPL

But now a rare opportunity has arisen for outsiders to enter the world of crofting, the traditional Scottish practice of working small landholdings.

A new crofting township has been created at Gillean, on Skye, and special discounts are being offered to attract young families.

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Three crofts have been brought to the market by local landowners, the Clan Donald Lands Trust (CDLT).

A new crofting township has been created by Gillean on the Isle of Skye. Picture: Contributed

Two of the units are being specifically promoted at a discounted rate to young residents who live on the Sleat peninsula, in order to bring new blood into the industry.

“It is a very an unusual move for an estate to create new crofts but the Trust believes this is a tangible step towards traditional crofting and will help maintain a way of life synonymous with Skye and many other areas of the Highlands and Islands,” said Angus Kelly of Bidwells, the property consultants employed by CDLT to manage the sale.

“The estate has deliberated long and hard over the proposals and are now delivering real opportunities in the form of good sized, workable holdings, each with planning permission in principle for a croft house.”

Few crofts come onto the market, according to the Scottish Crofting Federation, and those that do are generally in great demand.

A new crofting township has been created by Gillean on the Isle of Skye. Picture: Contributed

The average size of a croft is around five hectares, but some are only 0.5 ha, often with a share in hill grazing which is held in common with other crofters in a township.

Most crofts cannot support a family or give full-time employment, and most crofters have other occupations to provide the main part of their income.

In 2014-15 there were 19,422 crofts, with 15,388 crofters, across Scotland. Around 10 per cent of the population of the Highland are involved in crofting.

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Jan Wallwork-Clarke of the CDLT said: “The Trust is keen to encourage new crofters to branch out on their own and by offering a specially discounted rate for young local individuals and families, we hope we can help retain skills and traditions as well as offering a route to a lifestyle and income unique to land management in the highlands and islands.

“We have worked alongside the community to devise a proposal which complements and enhances the locality and we are very excited to offer such a unique opportunity.

“Croft revenues will be reinvested to assist in the running of the estate alongside the Clan Donald Lands Trusts visitor attractions at Armadale that include Armadale Castle and Gardens and the Museum of the Isles.”

The crofts are being sold under crofting tenure to the CDLT and extend to between approximately 6.33 acres (2.565 Ha) and 7.91 acres (3.204 Ha).

Former farmland, the ground is predominately rough hill along with areas of in-bye land. Each croft includes a share to Gillean common grazing which extends to approximately 50 Ha.