Friends of Scorrybreac Lands (FoSL)

Friends of Scorrybreac Lands

Become a Friend of Scorrybreac Lands

Be a Donor to preserve our traditional Clan Lands to save them for future generations!

In 1987 part of the ancient lands of Scorrybreac at Ben Chracaig on the Isle of Skye was purchased by members of Clan MacNicol from around the world. It spans 130 acres of hillside and cliff-tops adjacent to Loch Portree and the town of Portree on Skye. It is about ½ mile from the ruins of Scorrybreck House on Ben Torvaig, where the Chiefs of the Clan lived for many years until the last Chief left around 1830 to settle in Australia. Since the time when the clan bought the land many Clan members have had the opportunity to visit it and admire the glorious views from the sea-shore and from the cliffs above.

Entrance to the Scorrybreac Lands
The entrance to the Lands

The land is administered by a group of Trustees called Urras Clann MacNeacail, with the Clan Chief as its Chairman. There are Trustees from Great Britain, Scotland, North America and Australia, they meet annually to discuss needs for the lands upkeep.

The land is kept entirely for conservation. We have made no improvements other than the erection of footpaths and provision of seats for visitors, we have erected memorial cairns and a flagpole, usually with the aid of individual bequests or support from local government agencies like Scottish National Heritage and the Highlands and Islands Enterprise. Between 1993 and 2003 we had a management agreement with the Skye and Lochalsh District Council, who provided help with maintenance. However they did not renew this agreement in 2003 because of budget constraints, and it was the main reason for the decision to appeal to clan members and others for support.

In the past many Clan members world-wide had generously and repeatedly made small but valuable donations.  However, in 2006 the Trustees proposed that a larger, committed source of funds was essential for the on-going maintenance of what is after all a large estate.  Specifically, the grass and ferns around the area where we have erected memorial cairns and seats have to be cut several times during the growing season.
The footpaths around the perimeter of the lands have to be repaired at least once a year. Liability insurance coverage has to be paid for annually.  Unpredictable emergencies, such as landslides, also have to be dealt with by having some contingency funds.

The view over Loch Portree to the Cuillins Hills
The view over Loch Portree to the Cuillins Hills

At the Clan’s international gathering in Dunedin, New Zealand in September 2006 it was proposed that the Trust form a small group of Clan members and others called the “Friends of Scorrybreac Lands”.  These “Friends” pledged to make an annual contribution to Urras Clann MhicNeacail for a period of five years, to give the Trustees a base of financial support for the ongoing land maintenance.  The target is to raise £3,000 annually, and we suggested that the Friends commit to a minimum donation of £50 a year – so that with 60 such Friends from Clan members we could ensure that the land is kept tidy and in good repair for all visitors each year.

This was such a great success that following the Clan gathering in Launceston Tasmania in 2012, it will be continued as an ongoing fund.

The footpath below the cliffs to Sgeir Mhor
The footpath below the cliffs to Sgeir Mhor

To make it simple (and reduce currency charges) we collect these contributions in the equivalent amounts in local currency and consolidate these into single donations to Urras Clann MacNeacail annually. In Australia, Mal Nicolson, Secretary of the Clan MacNicol Society of Australia has offered to collect donations, and in North America Bill Nicholson will collect tax-deductible donations through Scorrybreac Fund Inc., of which he is Treasurer. We also have help from Jacques McNicoll in Canada and Lyn Nicholson in New Zealand. A list of the Friends is kept, which we can publish in the three Clan societies newsletters, send reminders about annual contributions, and provide each of the Friends with an annual report on the condition of the lands and how the Trustees have used the money.

For other Clan members who cannot afford such a commitment, we will continue to solicit smaller donations along with the annual Clan society dues, and consolidate these amounts into a single donation from each society or branch.
We would also like to solicit donations from businesses and local people in Portree on the Isle of Skye, who benefit from having this conservation land nearby and which is open to everyone.

The cliffs of Ben Chracaig
The cliffs of Ben Chracaig looking north over the Sound of Raasay

In the past several years the Trust has developed a very helpful arrangement and friendship with a group of volunteers in the Portree area, however now we have engaged a local landscape team to professionally manage and care for the Lands.

You can help to preserve this beautiful land on the Isle of Skye, which has been the home of the Clan MacNicol (Nicolson) for many hundreds of years, by becoming a “Friend of Scorrybreac Lands”; thus doing your bit to support the upkeep and preservation of this most valuable part of our history, a tangible link to the Clan MacNicol and its influence and presence in Skye, in the past and hopefully for many years to come.

Bluebells by the footpath  behind Ben Chracaig
Bluebells by the footpath  behind Ben Chracaig

Ben Chracaig, Clan MacNicol Land
Ben Chracaig, Clan MacNicol Land

 Become a Friend of Scorrybreac Lands