Popular Barrowby butcher to live off-grid on remote Scottish isle
A popular butcher is hanging up his apron after nearly 35 years to live off-grid on a remote Scottish Island.
Gavin Skinner, of George Skinner & Sons Butchers in Barrowby, finished on Friday, before making the 497-mile drive north to live as a crofter on the Isle of Raasay, a short ferry ride from the Isle of Skye.
He will join his partner of three years Lisa Loveday who has been living at the 181-year-old croft since July, after making the move first to start selling her handmade felted crafts on the island.
The couple, both aged 51, are aiming to live off-grid and be self-sufficient with their own livestock, homemade produce, a solar and wind turbine, a spring for their water, log burners and wood from the trees on their land as well as their own bees in the Spring for Lisa to make beeswax wraps. Lisa’s 20-year-old son Will, an agricultural engineer, is also joining them.
After settling in they all plan to convert some of the old ruined buildings on their land to Airbnb holiday accommodation to give visitors a real authentic off-grid experience, which they hope will be ready by next Spring.
Lisa, who is originally from Saltby in Leicestershire, said: “I have always loved Scotland and especially the west coast. We were so lucky to find the croft on the Isle of Raasay, which has a population of approximately 162.
It’s an amazing island, unspoilt, full of wildlife wilderness to explore and fabulous coastline. The island is steeped in history and a geologist’s haven with some really lovely people.
“Our croft plays an historical role, built in 1840 and home to Calum Macleod, a crofter who famously built Calum’s Road on the Island of Raasay over 10 years by hand.
“If it wasn’t for him the road to the croft would be a three-mile footpath. We also have no light pollution and clean air so hope to promote dark skies for the stargazers out there to visit too.
Our croft is at the north end of the isle and at present there are just two houses with permanent residents and a few holiday homes used during the season. We are 11 miles away from the main village of Inverarish - the journey takes 40 minutes along a single track road.
“Our croft sits in the narrowest part of the island on the side of the glen in the bay of Loch Arnish, looking directly over to the Isle of Skye and its famous old man of Stor. Further to the north west is the Isle of Lewis and Harris and directly north is the North Pole. As you drive up the road to the croft you feel like your on on top of the world.”
Gavin will spend his last day at the family business today (Friday) after joining fulltime in June 1986 as a third generation family butcher.
Gavin’s grandfather George Skinner originally started the business from Sedgebrook before opening on Main Street, Barrowby. George’s two sons Colin and Keith eventually took over with their sister Doreen.
As a child Gavin lived next to the shop in Barrowby with his mum Pauline and dad Colin and his younger brother Ashley, who now runs a pasty business in Cornwall.
Despite looking forward to what the next chapter in his life will bring, Gavin said he will miss his loyal customers.
He added: “My customers have all been really supportive about the move and think it is fantastic. A lot of them have become really good friends through the years and so I will miss them a lot, but I am very excited about what’s to come.”
Gavin still hopes to carry on his butchery skills.
Lisa added: “He wants to continue especially with all the deer around us. His venison burgers and sausages always go down well.”
You can follow the couple on their new adventure on Facebook via @thetinyroost or @happyroosting. They are also in the process of setting up a web page.