Thursday, 2 October 2014

Boreray from Boreray

Four things strike me about Boreray, in the Sound of Harris. That the Free Church building (above) still stands, having last been used in the 1920s. That the extensive central feature of Loch Mor was temporarily drained late in the 19th Century and extended by 47 acres the potentially-fertile land on the 489-acre island. That Boreray, in the St Kilda Group, can be seen, on occasions, clearly - the right-hand island on the horizon of the image below. How Marc Calhoun has described and photographed Boreray so effectively in his blog and his book, Exploring the Isles of the West.

Scottish Islands Explorer - also spotted from a distance by enthusiasts

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

From Sheep to Celebrity

The fifth Shetland Wool Week begins on Saturday 4 October and has been spun to last for nine-days.

The full details of the displays and events are to be found via an item in Shetland News and it serves as

a reminder of how many people are involved - from shepherds to spinners, weavers to wearers.

Scottish Islands Explorer - yearns for a nine-day week

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Sizing Up?

Pentland Ferries runs a fast, all-year-round service from Gills Bay, Caithness, to St Margaret's Hope, South Ronaldsay, Orkney. They are considering (and want people's views) on an alternative route to Burwick, a few miles closer to the Mainland.

At present the small port is used by the summer-only passenger service from John O'Groats. After sizing up the potential for a 30-minute ro-ro service, there would have to be an up-sizing of the facilities pictured below. The Orcadian has the details. Incidentally, 30 September is the final day of the summer season for the 40-minute crossing from John O'Groats - so hurry along as the next boat is not at 20.15, but in 2015.

Scottish Islands Explorer - surveying the scene, as ever

Monday, 29 September 2014

Drawn to the North

Doug Allan, pictured here with a husky in Greenland, is the third polar venturer featured on the blog during the past five days. Commemorative events for John Rae were mentioned; the talks by Craig Mathieson were reported; now the presentation in early December in Lerwick by the Scots-born, Bristol-based wildlife photographer, Doug Allan, whose book Freeze Frame can be partly downloaded from his website. Look into Shetland News which carries an item on the forthcoming event.

Scottish Islands Explorer - promotes exploration beyond the Scottish shores

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Two Ceremonies

Next Tuesday - 30 September - is the 201st anniversary of the birth of the Orkney-born, Arctic Explorer, Dr John Rae. This will be marked by ceremonies - one at Westminster Abbey where a plaque will be unveiled; the other at his graveside followed by a service at St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall. The former is private, by invitation only; the latter is open to the public. Details appear in The Orcadian.

Scottish Islands Explorer - available in both areas; aware of his achievements

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Whale in Weisdale

You, too, can become a whale-watcher by accessing Shetland News and clicking onto the video clip of the pilot whale which was a visitor to Weisdale Voe, Shetland, two days ago.

Scottish Islands Explorer - On a similar mission of discovery

Friday, 26 September 2014

Michelin Matters

Scotland has 15 hotels and restaurants with Michelin Awards. These now include the Isle of Eriska Hotel Spa & Island, (above) beyond Benderloch, north of Oban, and The Three Chimneys & The House Over-By, beyond Dunvegan, Skye. In 1900 there were only 3000 cars in France and the Michelin brothers, producers of tyres, wanted to assist motorists get out and about ... and burn more rubber in the process. They devised manuals, maps and guides of places to eat. In 1926 they set up an inspection system of assessing the quality of restaurants. The rest is a matter of history, acclaim and coveted accolades.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has been short-listed, but not by Michelin

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Inspiration ... Exploration

Earlier this week the polar explorer, Craig Mathieson, was in Lerwick to give motivational talks to pupils at the Anderson High School and at an induction day at Shetland Youth Enterprise. He referred, as reported in Shetland News, to his travels as well as to the charity with which he is associated. This is The Polar Academy with its endeavour to encourage inspiration through exploration. The Arctic Circle is closer to Shetland than, for example, the Mediterranean.

Scottish Islands Explorer - Also endeavours to inspire as an 'Explorer'

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

From Nigeria to Uig

Uig Sands, in the north-west of Lewis, is usually quiet and the way in which the roof of the

Uig Community Centre is raised is normally when the prevailing winds are strong. However, last Saturday saw (and heard) an 80-strong group of Nigerians come from their Aberdeen church to give a concert. The Stornoway Gazette reports on an unusual mixture of cultures.

Scottish Islands Explorer - Admires those who make long journeys

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Isle Martin

Isle Martin, at the head of Loch Broom, near Ullapool, has seen activity in recent years. In 1952 the flour mill's owner, not best pleased with the authorities' refusal to allow him to build a causeway, dismantled his plant. In the 1960s restoration of four of the 388-acre island's houses took place and they have been donated to the Isle Martin Trust. A new pontoon has been built to assist visitors.

The building below looks like the side-school that functioned until 1949. There were few of these small schools that continued in the Highlands & Islands after the Second World War and because of their temporary condition, their remains are seldom evident. The presence of Ben More Coigach does remain, as the top image indicates

Scottish Islands Explorer - Likes charting island revivals