Skip to main content

Help Wanted: An Idyllic Scottish Island Is Looking for a Sheep Dike Repairman

If you love sheep, idyllic islands, Scottish accents, and mending walls, there may be a job in Scotland with your name on it. If you have excellent people skills, a penchant for dike work, and a lack of any serious life commitments for the next three years, the Sheep Dyke Warden position in North Ronaldsay could be yours.

Scotland’s North Ronaldsay Island takes its native sheep population very seriously. The rare breed of seaweed-eating sheep is an essential part of the island’s economy with much of their wool and mutton being exported around the world. The future of the herd depends on ensuring it remains on the island’s foreshore. A 13-mile dike is all that corrals them there. Thanks to abnormally high tides and storm surges, however, the barrier has crumbled beyond critical levels. This leaves the herd open to cross-breeding which could threaten its gene pool. They also cannot feed on terrestrial plants from local farms as they’re hyper-sensitive to copper-poisoning when feeding on anything but seaweed. All of which is why the North Ronaldsay Trust put out the call for one hardworking, self-motivated Sheep Dyke Warden.

North Ronaldsay Orkney sheep
North Ronaldsay sheep (also known as Orkney sheep) is a unique breed that almost entirely lives off of seaweed. Ben Queenborough/Getty Images

On paper, the 35-hour-a-week job sounds like a ticket to early retirement with paid benefits to boot. In reality, the trust is clear that it promises to be both physically and mentally demanding. Daily responsibilities revolve around rebuilding and repairing the damaged dike. It’s sure to be taxing, tedious work that’s not for everyone. Much like Liam Neeson, candidates must possess a unique skill set. The job demands solid project management, communication skills, and a willingness to lead and foster local volunteer tourism. Dry stone dyking experience and the ability to work with and take constructive criticism from the local community are also essential. They’ll need to be in excellent physical shape as well.

On paper, the 35-hour-a-week job sounds like a ticket to early retirement with paid benefits to boot. In reality, the trust is clear that it promises to be both physically and mentally demanding.

In the last few decades, many of the world’s most rural and not-so-rural destinations have faced economically devastating depopulation. Young people are seeking the hustle and easy conveniences of urban living, and fewer and fewer people overall are content to work blue collar jobs. Many small towns, villages, and islands have taken to the Internet to woo potential residents to their corner of the world. Last month, for example, Arranmore Island announced that it’s part of an initiative by the Irish government to become the country’s first offshore digital hub.

The North Ronaldsay Trust is accepting applications until Friday, August 9, 2019, and expects to interview qualified candidates beginning at the end of August. By the pay scale of any mid-sized U.S. city, the salary is a mere pittance at just £21,840 (approximately USD $27,000). It does, however, include four weeks of paid vacation time. Plus, the life experience of spending three years as a Scottish shepherd will make for one hell of a chapter in your forthcoming autobiography.

If you’re looking for an idyllic, off-the-beaten-path island to slow down for a while — but can’t hack the shepherd and stone-dike-building lifestyle — Scotland’s Stronsay island is still looking for a few good expats.

Mike Richard
Mike Richard has traveled the world since 2008. He's kayaked in Antarctica, tracked endangered African wild dogs in South…
Round up your golf buddies — these are the best golf trips in the U.S.
Head to these great locales with your golf buddies
Ocean hole at Pebble Beach Golf Links

Pebble Beach Golf Links Noah Rosenfield via Unsplash

Golf lends itself to a fun, relaxing vacation. In the morning, hit the links with your buddies, try and break par, and take in stunning landscapes. When your round’s over, relax at the clubhouse or try world-class eateries, where you can savor and recharge. Then, do it again the next day.

Read more
These are the hottest summer travel spots in the U.S., according to Airbnb
2024 airbnb summer travel destinations packing mans suitcase for

As the weather heats up, so do travel plans for many people! Airbnb just released a list of the hottest summer travel spots in the U.S., and it has something for everyone. Airbnb based these top U.S. summer destinations on where people were searching to book rentals for the summer months of June through August 2024.
Top U.S. summer travel spots
Ouray, Colorado

If you’re an adventure seeker, Ouray, Colorado, might just be your perfect match. Nicknamed the "Outdoor Recreation Capital of Colorado," this mountain town offers hiking, rock climbing, and off-roading adventures with stunning views. Heads up -- you might see more bighorn sheep than people!
Eugene, Oregon

Read more
The newest hotel trend is… staying in an Airstream?
Airstreams are about to get way more luxurious
Hilton Airstream

In recent years, a new trend has taken the travel world by storm: glamping. Gone are the days of roughing it in a flimsy tent or cramped RV. Instead, travelers are opting for a more luxurious and comfortable outdoor experience that combines the best of both worlds. In 2022, luxury and traditional camping accounted for a staggering 32% of all vacations, according to Kampgrounds of America.

Glamping allows travelers to experience adventure without sacrificing comfort. And it’s not just outdoor enthusiasts embracing this trend; even hospitality giants like Hilton and Hyatt are hopping on the glamping bandwagon, offering renovated Airstreams and decked-out cabins as alternative accommodations for their guests. 
What is glamping?

Read more