Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Naturally Orkney

Raymond Besant has recently published a book of his photographs - Naturally Orkney - and tomorrow he will be talking to an audience in Kirkwall about his background, interests and techniques. Details of this event are in The Orcadian. His image of Rackwick Beach, Hoy, captures something of the northern light.

Scottish Islands Explorer - every issue reflects northern lights

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

A Saga of Switha

From the north coast of Caithness to the south coast of Flotta, Orkney, are three islands in an almost straight line - Stroma, Swona and Switha. The last one is 101 acres in extent and has no authenticated record of habitation. It does have two standing stones and place-names that are memorable - with The Kiln and The Kirn on its east coast while the headlands in the south-west are The Ool and Point of the Pool. Between these two and pictured below is The Pool. However, the legend of two brothers, Eric and Ronald Harcus, their sinister mother, and a beautiful girl from Flotta, Sibella Fea, is dramatically related in A Tale of Switha.

Scottish Islands Explorer - an unsettling story of an unsettled island

Monday, 20 October 2014

West Side Story

Most visitors to Jura take the road from Feolin (the ferry terminal at the southern end of the island) and continue up the east side to Craighouse and, perhaps, beyond. A few turn left at the ferry and take the paths and trackless sections up the west side. They deserve admiration - for habitation and facilities are either sparse or non-existent. Follow the footsteps of Peter and Fiona by reading Writes of Way. You will be transported to the remote in a few seconds ... and getting back involves a mere switch of the fingers.

Scottish Islands Explorer - likes recording trips ... from a distance

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Triangular Addition

Two new ships are to be procured for island routes and one of them will ply the 'Triangle' of Uig - Lochmaddy - Tarbert services of CalMac. Read the Stornoway Gazette account of the process and consider these routes as being your preferred ways of sailing to the Outer Hebrides. They are more protected from the vicissitudes of the weather than the exposed Ullapool to Stornoway and the long Oban to Castlebay crossings.

Scottish Islands Explorer - seeks the sheltered sales

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Full Scenarios

Three seemingly unrelated images from Shetland appear. Above is an eyeful of scenery at Sumburgh Head from a photograph showing what is described as the 'finest view from a car park in Britain'. Below is a view of Sumburgh Airport Car Park

which has become so full that passengers have been advised either to use public transport or to to arrange lifts. Full boxes of whitefish have been recorded and reported in Shetland News this week with over 10,665 (worth almost £1 million) landed, compared with the previous record of 9,435. Don't, at least, be caught out or miss out at the car parks.

Scottish Islands Explorer - boxes of the latest issue arrived this week

Friday, 17 October 2014

Go Scapa Flow

Scapa Flow Visitor Centre and Museum at Lyness, Hoy, Orkney could well be renovated soon as plans are being formulated. They appear in The Orcadian and this image comes from the gallery of Gary Doak Photography.

Scottish Islands Explorer - always keen to renovate and rekindle interest

Thursday, 16 October 2014

West Linga Waters

This is the Little Loch of Linga looking south-west towards Shetland Mainland from West Linga. Look the other way and Whalsay would dominate the view. Despite there being two land-locked areas of water on the 309-acre island, permanent residents have not been attracted since the end of the 18th Century. The reason is probably because anchorage around the coastline - guarded by the tidal islet of the Calf of Linga in the south and Wether Holm in the north - is limited and the beaching of boats hazardous.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a new issue has landed safely

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

One Hundred Acres Each

Ronay - the 'rough' or 'seal' island - is situated off the south-east of North Uist. It was once a religious haven that appealed to enthusiasts of the Middle Ages. Its population of six recorded in 1931 has diminished to no resident population, but one house now provides holiday accommodation on the island's 1391 acres. As Isle of Ronay House sleeps ten people that's over a hundred acres each! Access is speedy from Kallin on Grimsay, although the rough edges of the island give every opportunity for slow meandering by kayak.  

Scottish Islands Explorer - plenty to write home about

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Stacks of Birds

Iron Age forts or brochs in Shetland were often named brough or burgh, burra or burgi. Stacks that resemble fortifications may have similar associations. A few miles apart on South Mainland are (above) Burgi Ayre, Mousa, and (below) Burgi Stacks, Ness of Ireland. The former gives a drying place for shags in the summer sunshine; the latter is often storm lashed as it faces the Atlantic Ocean.

Scottish Islands Explorer - finds forts fascinating

Monday, 13 October 2014

More Marinas?

A joint venture on Harris for building separate marina pontoons to serve Tarbert (above) and Scalpay would mean that sailing and motor boats could be assured of shelter during diverse conditions within three miles. It would also complement the facilities recently opened at Stornoway, Lewis, and Lochmaddy, North Uist. The details of the proposals are to be found in a Stornoway Gazette item.

Scottish Islands Explorer - for reading in shelters throughout the world