Page last updated at 13:05 GMT, Sunday, 26 October 2008

Skye leopard man changes his spot

Tom Leppard - the Leopard Man of Skye (Pic by Steve Smith)
Tom Leppard said he was getting too old for living in the wild

A man made famous for his leopard-spot tattoos has left his life in the wild for the comfort of a one-bedroom house.

For the past 20 years, Tom Leppard, known as the Leopard Man of Skye, has lived in a remote bothy under a roof made from plastic sheeting.

The cabin, on a stretch of shoreline near Kyleakin, had no electricity or furniture and he had to canoe three miles for his weekly shopping.

Mr Leppard, 73, said: "I'm getting too old for that kind of life."

The London-born pensioner said he was slowly adjusting to his new life in Broadford, on Skye.

"It's certainly very strange being surrounded by four walls and a roof but I'll get used to it," he said.

"I'm getting bits of furniture together all the time and I'm getting used to sleeping in a bed at night - it's certainly more comfortable than I'm used to and electricity is very convenient."

When you're covered in leopard tattoos you certainly get noticed - I became a bit of a tourist attraction on Skye
Tom Leppard
Mr Leppard, who spent 5,500 covering his body in leopard-like spots, was the world's most tattooed man - a crown he held until recently.

In his crumbling previous home, he cooked on a gas stove and slept on a bed made from blocks of polystyrene and foam.

He said: "I had to canoe to Kyle once a week for shopping and it was getting too hard for me - I was one big wave away from disaster. It's a pretty nasty stretch of water."

He described how a friend with a boat offered to take him off a few weeks ago.

"I just decided there and then to go," he said, "I packed what kit I could into black bin liners and that was it."

The ex-special forces soldier said he had no regrets about his hermit lifestyle.

He said: "I've loved every minute and when you're covered in leopard tattoos you certainly get noticed - I became a bit of a tourist attraction on Skye."

However, Mr Leppard said his bothy days were behind him and he was looking forward to relaxing a bit more

"Everyone's been very friendly since I moved in and I'll just settle for the quiet life now," he added.



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