Meet Kate Macleod, an extrordinary young woman from Uig on the Isle of Lewis, who has been hailed as the real-life mermaid of the islands, who can often be seen disappearing into the tides wearing a fin tale custom-made in Hawaii.
Ms Macleod’s story is now being told in a new BBC ALBA series Miann na Maighdinn-mara or – Mermaid Tales – which shows how the waters surrounding her island home have become her natural habitat.
Kate said: “I have such a strong bond with the sea and Uig. I think a lot of islanders feel the same. There’s something so special about the islands and Scotland as a whole.“I feel so privileged to live in this part of the world, at the edge of the sea, and in the water. When I was young, I felt that if our sea was warmer I would never leave it, I’d just be a mermaid for the rest of my life!”
Her love of outdoor swimming began when, as a young girl, she took part in the family’s own version of the New Year’s Day Loony Dook.Mrs Macleod said: “When Kate started swimming in the sea it would be too cold for everyone else but she would just keep going, she’d spend the whole afternoon in there then come out freezing. On holiday she’d spend all her time on the swimming pool, and she wouldn’t just swim, she would be underwater.”
In the show, Kate explores the west coast of Lewis and nearby smaller islands by boat with her dad, while learning from locals about the power the sea has had on life in the Outer Hebrides over time.
In episode one, she visits the beautiful island of Little Bernera where she kayaks with seals before jumping in the crystal clear waters for a dip.
The documentary has been created by Stornoway based MacTV.
Seumas Mactaggart, head of production & executive producer on this series, said: “Mermaid Tales offers a glimpse of another world, it’s full of fantastic wildlife and impressive scenery on the west coast of the stunning Isle of Lewis.“This is filmed from the perspective of a young woman who has a strong interest in the natural environment and who is extremely proud of her maritime heritage. It is truly escapist, and such a tonic in these difficult times. “In episode two, Kate comes up close to a pod of dolphins in Loch Roag and visits the island of Vuia Mhor where she learns about its former inhabitants.
On hearing the 200-year-old story about a boy who used to swim a great distance to see his sweetheart, Kate decides to recreate the amazing feat.The show also gave Kate and opportunity to conquer her fear of deep water which led her to make an amazing discovery at the bottom of a loch.Miann na Maighdinn-mara/Mermaid Tales begins on BBC ALBA on Tuesday, March 16 at 8.30pm with each of the four shows then available on the BBC iPlayer for 30 days.