Saturday, 1 November 2014

High Lands, Hands-on

An exhibition, Islands and High Lands, runs at the Shetland Museum's Da Gadderie, until 23 November, featuring the work of Anne Campbell and Chloe Garrick. They have returned to the hands-on techniques of analogue photography - 'The alchemy of producing images with light, chemicals and paper has a magical quality.' A review of the show appears in Shetland News and the above image by Anne Campbell is of The Blackhouse Village. It shows the dwelling at Garenin, Lewis, that has been refurbished as a hostel twice - recently by the Gearrannan Trust and formerly by the Gatliff Hebridean Hostels Trust.

Scottish Islands Explorer - employs more modern techniques

Friday, 31 October 2014

Tennis on the Road

Judy Murray has visited the remote tennis court at Bunabhainneadar, Harris, in order to promote the sport for the organisation, Tennis on the Road. A full report features in the Stornoway Gazette. Some years ago, apparently, a group of children from nearby Amhuinnsuidhe rigged up a rope across the road in order to improvise a net on a court. They enjoyed playing and listening for the occasional vehicle. A wag enjoyed submitting their names for the first stages of Junior Wimbledon; the authorities were bemused; someone proposed building a court with lottery funding; and construction work took place at Bunabhainneadar. By the time the process was finished, the children in question had grown up and moved on ... either in person or interests!  However, the 'passing place' for a youthful game had, in this case, become a permanent feature.

Scottish Islands Explorer - many things have unusual ways of getting started

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Make a Note for '48

There appears to be a cloud question mark over the Earth's most remote permanently-settled island, Tristan da Cunha. There were questions about the island presented  on Barra and North Uist earlier this week when Alasdair MacEachen gave an illustrated talk, as part of the Faclan events, on his visit to Tristan and its only settlement, Edinburgh of the Seven Seas. This was in 2011, the 50th anniversary of the volcanic eruption that led to temporary, though complete, evacuation. A date to note is Saturday 5 December 2048, when a total eclipse line will centre on the island, giving a full two-and-a-half minutes of darkness.

Scottish Islands Explorer - should have 300 issues to its name by then

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Still On

The programmes by Paul Murton on the Scottish islands has reached the final two in the series. They may still be viewed on BBC iPlayer and details are available on Orkney as well as Coll, Tiree and the Skerryvore Lighthouse.

Scottish Islands Explorer - lasts longer than 28 days

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Copinsay Stay

The door is open to this deserted house on the uninhabited island of Copinsay, to the east of Mainland Orkney. Comforts will be few and so it is recommended that the area is visited via the newly-installed webcam. Click onto Orkney Nature Festival and you will be away as long as it's light.

Scottish Islands Explorer - webcams are another way of exploring

Monday, 27 October 2014

Extreme and At Risk

The Keil Hotel, Southend, Kintyre, is some eight miles by land beyond Campbeltown and just twelve miles by water from Antrim, Northern Ireland. It was completed in 1939, remains an impressive Art Deco building and had a different history than intended. Soon after completion it was requisitioned as a military hospital by the Royal Navy and did not fulfil its original purpose until 1947.  

That was the year of the coldest winter of the 20th Century and one when rationing of both building materials and food was evident. It is in an exposed position with sea views dominating its south side. The island of Sanda can been seen in the distance. By October 1990 it had closed, but its structure still commands attention, although it is certainly one of those Buildings at Risk.

Scottish Islands Explorer - discovered Southend and Keil earlier this year

Sunday, 26 October 2014


There is a similarity between the dimensions of the building above, in Shetland, and the hostel at Rhenigidale, North Harris, featured yesterday. The so-called bod is at Skeld and is one of a chain of nine camping barns or bothies that were set up from 1992 onwards to provide a network for those who prefer a more adventurous style of accommodation. The Sail Loft at Voe, below, indicates something of the variety of architecture and the details of all are to be found at Shetland Camping Bods.

Scottish Islands Explorer - embraces the adventurous

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Rhenigidale Recalled

When the above photograph was taken by taken by Julian Paren in 1986, the road had not reached Rhenigidale. It came some three years later and can be seen below. A project, Doomesday Reloaded, was set up in '86 and looks back from there over the history of this small North Harris settlement. More information is available from the Explore Rhenigidale item on the Gatliff Hostels website. The building featured is the first of the hostels set up by Herbert Gatliff in 1962.

Scottish Islands Explorer - changes constantly monitored

Friday, 24 October 2014

Fire Works in Shetland

The Firework Display in Lerwick returns - after the absence of this Shetland social event in 2013 - on Saturday 1 November. However, there have been reminders of the ever-present threats of fire with recent incidents on the Whalsay Ferry and at Greenhead Base.

Scottish Islands Explorer - scenic displays in every issue

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Coll and Halley

Here are two scenes in which clear skies feature. One shows Hogh Bay, Coll, and the other cosmic dust from Halley's Comet photographed above Northumberland. The Comet is not due to return until 2061, but some of its dust was evident in shooting-star displays on Tuesday and Wednesday nights of this week. An informed account appears in the Edinburgh Evening News and a recommended place to watch this type of heavenly event is the island of Coll, well-known for its low light-pollution.

Scottish Islands Explorer - wants to be read at night ... and day