Like other communities in Skye, crofting was, and is, integral to the Staffin community. The families and neighbours in the 23 crofting townships of the Taobh Sear were bound together by the need to work together communally whether they were shearing sheep, gathering from the hill, milking cows, planting potatoes, cutting and lifting peats, and haymaking. The classic crofting landscape picture you will probably have seen reproduced in countless books, magazines and newspapers is looking across to Brogaig, Glasphein and Digg from Stenscholl, with the Quiraing and Staffin Bay framing the image.
Some of those tasks, such as milking cattle, are no longer carried out in Staffin while others, such as hay making have been largely replaced by silage. September was the most popular month for hay making in townships across Staffin when practically every member of the family, young and old, male and female, would be out with a rake or pitch fork as they worked up the cnocan which allowed the cut grass to dry and were such a familiar part of the landscape at that time of year. That sweet smelling meadow hay, and corn, was a integral part of livestock’s winte feeds in the district.
A Welsh teenager who had a memorable holiday at a Staffin youth hostel in the early 1960s uncovered images of the area’s crofting past which are published below. David Evans found the slides, which were taken when he was only 17 in September 1962.
David stayed in the former youth hostel at Quiraing Lodge in 1962. “My visit was with a school group and we stayed at the youth hostel in Staffin Bay,” he said. “I recall swimming in the bay. I’d been brought up in north Wales and felt sure I could cope with Scottish sea temperatures. I survived…
“For a 17 year old it was a most exciting time and place. So good was the experience that in 1967 I revisited with my brother and two other chums. We stayed at the youth hostel again. At the time the youth hostel manager was on holiday but had left the place in the capable hands of his son and I am sure his name was Angus MacDonald. I recall he was studying at the University of Aberdeen. Apart from us four, I do not recall there being any other guests at the youth hostel. Angus was keen to show us the delights of Portree and we all set off in my car.”