If you’ve ever phoned Kinloch, there’s a good chance Rachel’s cheerful voice has greeted you on the other end of the line. A fixture at Kinloch since the early 1990s, Rachel would often bring her children – who are now grown-up - along to work with her. “The handyman would come and watch them while I showed guests around and made teas,” she says.
Rachel has lived on Skye for all of her life. She was brought up in Camard, further down the Sleat peninsula, as one of seven children. Her father was a crofter, originally from the Isle of Harris who loved music and played the box. Rachel’s upbringing on a very different Skye was idyllic. “You knew everybody. It was a smaller place then, quieter. We went to church on Sundays. We weren’t even allowed to watch television on a Sunday – at least until my dad left the house, and then my mum would let us!”
Rachel has known the Macdonalds since childhood and was in primary school with Isabella and her sister. While undoubtedly some things about Kinloch have changed since Rachel’s early days – “we used to hand-write all our correspondence to our guests,” she said, “and we didn’t have the en-suite bathrooms” – much of what she has always valued about the place hasn’t. “I love it here. I love all the guests, I love the work, I love the Macdonalds. It’s such a happy place to be.”
The feeling is mutual. Claire Macdonald might have said it best in her book, Lifting the Lid: “No one is indispensable, they say, but there are exceptions and Rachel is one of them.”
Favourite Skye Spot: "There so many amazing walks. Point of Sleat is one of my favourites, but I also love the walks at Armadale Castle, the Macdonalds ancestral home. It’s just beautiful."
Top Tip: "Pack for all weathers. You never know what to expect. But you’re not coming for the weather anyway, are you?"