New documentary dives into fishy tales around Lewis

Kate Macleod has several of her own Ariel-style tails, custom-made in Hawaii to fit over her Monofin.

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A new TV series on BBC ALBA follows the adventures of a ‘real life’ mermaid on the Isle of Lewis as she indulges in her lifelong passion of swimming in the sea.

Brave Kate isn’t put off by the cold and often swims in the sea in winter.

The four-part series Miann na Maighdinn-mara/Mermaid Tales offers the ultimate escapism as viewers join Kate Macleod, 24, as she discovers hidden treasures in the beautiful turquoise seas on her own doorstep.

Brave Kate is not put off by the cold and often swims in the sea in winter, wearing her monofin – which is like one giant flipper. She also has several of her own Ariel-style tails, custom-made in Hawaii to fit over her Monofin.

Kate was raised in the Outer Hebrides by boat company owner dad Murray and mum Janet, along with brother Seumas. Her love of outdoor swimming began when she was a young girl taking part in the family’s own version of the New Year’s Day Loony Dook.

Kate explores the west coast of Lewis, and nearby smaller islands, by boat with her dad in this series and talks to knowledgeable locals about the fascinating history on her own doorstep.

Kate said: ‘I have such a strong bond with the sea. I think a lot of islanders feel the same. There’s something so special about the islands and Scotland as a whole.

‘I feel so privileged to live in this part of the world, at the edge of the sea, and in the water. When I was young, I felt that if our sea was warmer I would never leave it, I’d just be a mermaid for the rest of my life!’

Created by Stornoway based MacTV, their head of production and executive producer on this series, Seumas Mactaggart, said : ‘Mermaid Tales offers a glimpse of another world, it’s full of fantastic wildlife and impressive scenery on the west coast of the stunning Isle of Lewis.

‘This is filmed from the perspective of a young woman who has a strong interest in the natural environment and who is extremely proud of her maritime heritage. It is truly escapist, and such a tonic in these difficult times.’

Miann na Maighdinn-mara/Mermaid Tales begins on BBC ALBA on Tuesday, March 16 at 8.30pm, with subsequent episodes on Tuesday each week at the same time. All four episodes will also be available on the BBC iPlayer for 30 days.