One of Scotland’s smallest islands – the inspiration for Ring of Bright Water author Gavin Maxwell – is to remain in public hands after fears it would be sold.
Six-acre Eilean Ban is famous for its association to Maxwell, who wrote the famous otter story, and lies beneath the Skye Bridge, providing the base for one of the main supports.
Government agency Transport Scotland announced earlier this year it no longer needed the land, raising fears a private landowner could come in and prevent tourists and locals from visiting.
But ownership of Eilean Ban, also the site of the Loch Alsh lighthouse designed by the father of author Robert Louis
Stevenson, is being transferred to Forestry Commission Scotland, ensuring that access to the famous site will continue.
Transport minister Keith Brown said yesterday: “Eilean Ban – or ‘White Island’ – not only supports the structure for one of Scotland’s most famous bridges in the shape of the Skye road bridge, but was the home of one of Scotland’s most popular wildlife authors and conservationists, Gavin Maxwell.”
He added: “We have been working hard to ensure that the ownership of the land on which the bridge sits remains in public hands. I’m delighted that Forestry Commission Scotland have agreed to take ownership and that the lease on the land will continue to be honoured.
“I’m also delighted that locals living both on Skye and around Loch Alsh, as well as the many visitors to Eilean Ban, will continue to have access to one of the cultural gems of Scotland and enjoy the kind of landscape which provided Maxwell with the inspiration to create one of the world’s most famous wildlife stories.“
Maxwell, lived on the island and wrote his book about his companion there a pet otter Mij.
Eilean Ban was once owned by Sir Tom Farmer, the founder of Kwik-Fit and has been leased since 1998 for a peppercorn rent to the Eilean Ban Trust, which runs the outcrop and its 19th century lighthouse, which is now an education centre and nature reserve.
SNP MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch Dave Thompson, said: “Eilean Ban inspired Mr Maxwell to write. Now, thanks to this agreement, locals and visitors will continue to have access to this famous site and be inspired by its beauty.”
Hugh Davies, chairman of the Eilean Ban Trust, said: “This secures the future of the island for the community and as a tourist attraction.”