Highlands & Islands

Coronavirus: Author Neil Gaiman's 11,000-mile lockdown trip to Scottish isle

Neil Gaiman and wife Pamela Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Gaiman left his wife Amanda Palmer and son behind in Auckland

Author Neil Gaiman has admitted breaking Scotland's lockdown rules by travelling 11,000 miles from New Zealand to his holiday home on Skye.

The Good Omens and American Gods writer left his wife and son in Auckland so he could "isolate" at his island retreat.

He wrote on his online blog: "Hullo from Scotland, where I am in rural lockdown on my own."

The science fiction and fantasy author has since been criticised for "endangering" local people".

The SNP's Westminster leader Ian Blackford, who is the MP for the island, told the Sunday Times the author's journey was unacceptable.

He said: "What is it about people, when they know we are in the middle of lockdown that they think they can come here from the other side of the planet, in turn endangering local people from exposure to this infection that they could have picked up at any step of the way?"

Mr Gaiman - whose main family home is in Woodstock in the USA - has owned the house on Skye for more than 10 years.

The English-born author wrote on his blog that until two weeks ago he had been living in New Zealand with his wife, the singer Amanda Palmer, and their four-year-old son.

He said the couple agreed "that we needed to give each other some space".

'Masked and gloved'

The 59-year-old said he flew "masked and gloved, from empty Auckland airport" to Los Angeles.

He then caught a British Airways flight to London before borrowing a friend's car and heading for Skye.

"I drove north, on empty motorways and then on empty roads, and got in about midnight, and I've been here ever since," he said.

"I needed to be somewhere I could talk to people in the UK while they and I were awake, not just before breakfast and after dinner. And I needed to be somewhere I could continue to isolate easily.

"It's rough for almost everyone right now - some people are crammed together and wish they weren't, some are alone and crave companionship, pretty much all of us are hurting in one way or another. So be kind."

Mr Gaiman was criticised online for heading to Skye from overseas when tourists and second-home owners were being urged to stay away.

'Save lives'

One person tweeted: "Neil, we're in lockdown in Scotland. Maybe don't encourage folk to travel to a second home - especially in small island communities.

"I'm sorry for your troubles and sympathise with your situation but we are doing our best to save lives right now and that means everyone stay put."

He replied by insisting he would remain quarantined until lockdown restrictions were lifted.

Mr Gaiman's arrival on Skye came as the island community learned of a major outbreak of coronavirus at a care home at Portree.

Ten elderly people at Home Farm care home have died, and almost all of the 34 residents have tested positive along with 29 staff.

Local MP Mr Blackford commented: "To descend on this island at this time, when we have a serious outbreak which has resulted in such tragic circumstances - it pays scant respect to the families of the bereaved and the people who live here."

Mr Gaiman, whose best known works include American Gods, Good Omens and the children's novel Coraline, has described Skye as his favourite place in the world and the best place for him to write.