MAKING THEIR PITCH: Isle of Skye campsite aims to expand after turning away 4,000 visitors during bumper 2022

The commuinity owned campsite in south Skye. Pic Facebook/Camping Skye

A community development company in Skye says there is a “desperate need” for extra motorhome pitches on the island after revealing its campsite turned away over 4,000 visitors this season.

Camping Skye at Broadford is now seeking funding to extend the campsite by a further 12-15 spaces in a bid to meet just some of the demand for next summer.

Broadford and Strath Community Company, which owns and manages the campsite, believes many of those 4,000-plus visitors were lost to Skye because other sites were similarly full.

The largest number of motorhomes it turned away in one day was 76. Camping Skye will close shortly for the winter but said it wanted to share the collated statistics to show the striking need for further investment in facilities on Skye.

Eyeing an expansion at Camping Skye are Nicholas Kelly, project officer, Broadford and Strath Community Company; Anthony Robin, senior warden, Camping Skye; Alison MacLennan, director BSCC; and Gheorghe Nicorici, warden, Camping Skye.

Norma Morrison, community co-ordinator with BSCC, told the Free Press: “Since opening our gates on the 21st of March this year the Camping Skye team have kept a note of all the visitors they have not been able to accommodate, from those who phoned looking for a pitch to those who just turned up on the day in the hope of finding a space for the night.

“The figure so far is an incredible 4,319. That’s 4,319 visitors who wanted a campervan pitch on Skye for the night but could not be accommodated. The majority are redirected to other sites much further afield as other Skye and Lochalsh campsites tell a similar tale. The statistics highlight the desperate need for more useable spaces on our island.” 

Predictions that the number of motorhomes heading to Skye would fall in 2022 because of high fuel prices and a return to foreign travel post-pandemic, proved wrong.

It is also thought that many visitors opted for Skye, rather than the Outer Hebrides, because of this summer’s ferry chaos and uncertainty over bookings. 

Camping Skye currently has 26 motorhome and caravan pitches, along with many tent pitches, but plans are now being progressed to expand the site. 

BSCC submitted a successful application to the Scottish Land Fund earlier this year which has provided funding to purchase a piece of land, owned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, adjacent to Camping Skye.

As part of the bid, it has also secured resources for a project officer to facilitate the purchase and to source further funding to develop the additional land.

It is envisaged that as well as providing much-needed motorhome spaces, the site can also be used as a community space for events

Skye Highland Councillor John Finlayson said: “I am delighted that Camping Skye continues to operate on such a successful basis and I am delighted again to see that 2022 has again been a very busy year. I am also pleased to note their ongoing ambitions for expansion which I am sure, knowing their record of delivery, will again become a reality, while also supporting so many aspects of the local economy.

“I was shocked to hear of the large number of visitors that Camping Skye were forced to turn away throughout the season. It was excellent that they logged those statistics because it gives us a picture of the demand that exists on the island for such facilities. We don’t want to see visitors turned away from Skye and nor do we want to see holidaymakers in motorhomes having to resort to ‘wild camping’ with all the implications that has for local communities.

“I’m sure these figures from Camping Skye will help to inform future discussions on motorhome and camping provision.”

If it can secure the necessary funding, BSCC hopes to open its extended campsite in April 2023.

Article by Jackie MacKenzie