When our friends Jo & Mark asked if we'd like to help thatch their beautiful traditional cottage in Scarinish- there was only one answer- YES!
This was a rare opportunity to work along side one of the last thatchers on the island and see the process of maintaining a thatched roof first-hand. This is one of only 8 thatched cottages remaining on the island, so it is a very special building indeed.
Thatch was once the most common roofing material on Tiree, but as more durable alternatives became available many roofs were replaced. Now as supplies of marram grass and skilled thatchers are scarce it is mostly listed buildings on the island that continue to use thatch due to the cost and ongoing maintenance required. The severe Atlantic gales that batter the island each winter really take their toll on thatched roofs. Marram grass in a fine material and this often means that the thatch has slumped down or thinned out in places by the summer. It is common for a fresh layer of thatch to be added every year or so and replaced completely in time.
An Indian summer in October was the perfect opportunity to add another layer of marram grass that had been cut and dried by the thatcher over the summer. Over the course of an afternoon, the protective stone weights were removed, and the chicken wire rolled back and small bales of thatch were spread in the traditional Tiree method. It was fantastic to see this work in progress and it was a enjoyable way of spending time in the sunshine an fresh air.
To see more about this cottage and rent it for your visit to Tiree click here.