Fair Isle is the most geographically remote inhabited island in the United Kingdom. It lies 24 miles from the Shetland Mainland and 27 miles north of the Orkney islands.
My role as Islands manager at the National Trust for Scotland took me to Fair Isle on two occasions. Each trip was challenging in many ways. One trip coincided with the much welcomed switching on of the island 24 hours electricity supply. The trips also included the monitoring of Bonxie behaviour that threatened to impact the life line flights to the island. The rigours of maintaining the operations of the airstrip to the ever pressing regulations was not inconsiderate. Why a charitable heritage body runs a life line airport still baffles me.
On my second trip the weather turned and I was stuck on the island for an extra five days until the weather blew through. The advantage of that is you don’t lose your bed – as the including next resident cannot get to the island, so you bed is safe!
The people of the island impress in terms of their tenacity, an essential attribute for island life. Tensions exist as you would expect. Some between islanders, towards the authorities and of course to the landlord the NTS. Job roles are shared with multi-tasking a day-to-day standard. The shop owner leads the island fire service and the skipper of the Good Shepheard is a crofter and support the fire service and so it goes on.