An unpromising patch of land on the Isle of Skye is now home to a minimal yet clever contemporary croft, thanks to the vision of its photographer owner
The first time Nigel Rigden visited the plot of land his house now stands on, things didn’t look good. A miserable combination of driving rain and thick fog made it impossible to see the surrounding views, and there was nothing but a pile of stones where the original croft house had once stood, accessorised by lots of scrap metal and a rusty broken-down car.
Fortunately, Nigel, who works as an architectural and landscape photographer, could see past these unpromising beginnings, and he and his partner Elaine decided to buy the three-quarters of an acre just outside Portree on the Isle of Skye. “I realised that it would just be a case of some hard graft to clear it all,” says Nigel. “It was a lovely plot and I knew we had to go for it.”
The next question was what to build. “Originally, I did some research into Scandinavian kit houses,” he says. “Then, when I was out on a job with Billy Reynolds, an architect who’s based in Dingwall, I told him I was thinking of going down the kit route. He asked me why I didn’t think about taking on the build myself, as that way I’d get exactly what I wanted.
“A kit house, he told me, would inevitably mean compromises along the way. That struck a chord, as up until that point I had been unable to find a layout that matched exactly what we had in mind.
“Billy convinced us that building our own bespoke home could be as affordable and cost-effective as a kit house, and as I knew what I wanted – my idea was always to build a contemporary croft building – we decided to go ahead.”
Nigel rolled up his sleeves and, over the course of a couple of months, began clearing out the couple’s little corner of Skye, taking the scrap for recycling at Portree. As he did so, the design gradually evolved. Having already carried out major renovations on two previous properties, one in England and one in the Black Isle…
This is just a taster, you can browse the full article with more stunning photography on pages 90-96, issue 93.
White Tail Croft is occasionally available for short lets.
See www.wildernesscottages.co.uk for details