Doubtless you have never heard of the remote crofting settlement of Skerray, very few people have.
Hidden on a looping side road on the far north coast of Scotland, roughly halfway between Tongue and Bettyhill it is, at first glance, a charming picturesque crofting village located next to the beautiful vista of Torrisdale Bay. It looks like an idyllic location for a holiday but woe-betide you when you meet the residents.
There are three kinds of people in Skerray; angry unfriendly crofters, angry unfriendly retirees and angry unfriendly “artists” (in Skerray the term “artist” is primarily used as a euphemism for “bored menopausal housewife”).
It boasts a post office and ‘shop’, where one can buy cans of apple tango, stamps, hippie arts & crafts cack and NOTHING ELSE; no bread, no milk, no tourist maps, but if you want a hand-carved model of a boat dipped in three kinds of purple glitter and painted with wobbly spirals, then you’re in for a treat.
Driving through Skerray is best confined to the daytime, even then it isn’t recommended. The closure of the police stations at Tongue and Bettyhill have effectively decriminalised drink-driving in the area as evidenced by the comically strong smell of alcohol wafting forth from the pick-up trucks and Range Rovers that habitually swerve and screech about the place safe in the knowledge that the nearest police are nearly two hour’s drive away. At night the roads are like Mad Max, only with 1980s zip-up cardigans instead of leather.
It is the people who really make Skerray the hellhole it is though. In stark contrast to the friendly folk who live across the river in Bettyhill, the people of Skerray are insular, small-minded and suspicious of anyone outside their own tragically denuded gene pool.
Speaking of the gene-pool, or gene-cup, in this case. Skerray is home to a level of inbreeding that makes the Forest of Dean seem almost cosmopolitan by comparison. People in urban areas seem to think that the occupants of villages like this engage in brother-sister matings, I can tell you from experience that this is not the case. In Skerray, at least, the incest is overwhelmingly of the uncle-niece variety and it is all too common for a 13 or 14 year-old girl to suddenly announce that she will be “staying with relatives down south” for a year, eventually returning with stretch marks and a sadness in her eye that never quite fades.
Visiting Skerray in the summer will inevitably bring you into contact with local “characters” like the feckless simpleton who [does a job we can’t mention due to possibly being identified]. This gaunt corned-beef skinned dullard may be seen shambling about the village in his filthy overalls and should, on no account, be engaged in conversation unless you wish to be aggressively stalked for the rest of your holiday.
Leaving your car you may wish to explore the area and get to meet some of the vicious unrestrained collies that inhabit its environs. Please be aware that, while it is considered perfectly acceptable for the local collies to roam the village at leisure attacking anyone or anything they wish, any non-local dog will be shot on sight, irrespective of whether it was worrying sheep or not. So it’s probably best to leave Rover at home.
According to local legend the settlement of Skerray was formed during the clearances when people evicted from the Strathnaver region headed north to form the new village of Bettyhill and decided to use their displacement as an opportunity to cast out all the people in their community that no-one could stand, thus the arseholes were sent across the Naver to found Skerray and Bettyhill went on to become one of the most famously friendly and welcoming tourist destinations in the Highlands.
By all means visit Skerray, but fill your tank in Bettyhill or Tongue, keep your windows closed, keep moving and DON’T FEED THE LOCALS!