Sunday, 31 August 2014

Loch Seaforth En Route

Compare the image above of what the new MV Loch Seaforth will look like and the photograph of her sailing from Flensberg, Germany, to Odense, Denmark, during the final phase of her construction. More information is available through the Stornoway Gazette.

Scottish Islands Explorer - ready to board when delivery made

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Caving Climax

Clear blue skies above, at Esha Ness in Shetland; dark and cavernous below;

the ways and and means of access allows penetration to what is thought to

be Britain's largest cave. Take in the item on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - literally, in this case

Friday, 29 August 2014

Summer Ends; Now Dancing

This wintry scene of the Northern Lights is not a harbinger of swiftly changing conditions, but a reminder that the days of Summer are drawing to a close. An item in The Orcadian reflects on the appearance of 'The Merry Dancers' over Rousay yesterday. It forecasts that there could  be frequent activities in the night skies during the next few weeks.

Scottish Islands Explorer - is active every eight weeks

Thursday, 28 August 2014

No Water Stops Play

There's plenty of sea-water around Colonsay, but the island's piped water ran short when the 'Ice Bucket' craze took off. The MailOnline reports.

There were sufficient supplies in Stornoway, however, to drench both the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and his wife, who took part in the charity challenge. Read about their escapade in the Stornoway Gazette.

Scottish Islands Explorer - supplies remain undiminished

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Animal Associations

The Norse explorers would sometimes link a smaller, associated island to its larger neighbour with an animal association. Hence the Calf of Eday (above right and below) and the Horse of Copinsay - both in the Orkney group. Calf Sound can be a particularly spectacular and dangerous stretch of water

with Grey Head evident in both above images, adjacent to Red Head on Eday. The smaller island has not been inhabited in modern times, although a chambered tomb (below) and an Iron Age House are to be found on its southern shore. Orcadians would have had a taste for the 600-acre island as its now redundant saltworks supplied the surrounding area.

Scottish Islands Explorer - also provides a taste of islands

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Scenery Slideshow

Here's a glimpse of Reef Beach, Lewis, as a prelude to a slideshow of local scenes in the August series of readers' photographs from the Stornoway Gazette. The adverts may have to be endured before the images are enjoyed.

Scottish Islands Explorer - is always image conscious

Monday, 25 August 2014

Scarp Settings

The slipway at Huisinish is quite a drive from the Tarbert - Stornoway road, but it provides an entry to sheltered waters, with Scarp beyond and, in the distance the hills of West Lewis.

The beach above is opposite Scarp and the one below is on the island itself. Home-owners are permitted to stay there until the Autumn when the place becomes depopulated as happened in December 1971 when its last permanent residents left.

Scottish Islands Explorer - likes the settlements beyond the road

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Fly Orkney

The history of civil and military flying will be the focus of the five-day Orkney Aviation Festival to be held from 10 - 14 September. There will be references to the world's shortest - the scheduled flights between Westray and Papa Westray as well as to the contrast - between the ancient and and the innovative with the Old Man of Hoy being closely monitored by a Loganair Islander. More details are in an item from The Orcadian.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a frequent flyer when delivered

Saturday, 23 August 2014

CalMac Ticket Concepts

This CalMac ferry looks young beside the ancient rocks. The tickets for getting on board one of the more popular crossings (below) will soon look out-of-date as a new system is soon to be introduced. Read about the concepts for e-ticketing and mobile technology for booking in a Stornoway Gazette item.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has its own digital issue

Friday, 22 August 2014

Stones Still Surprise

The Callanish Stones continue to attract for a variety of reasons. They do continue to spring surprises. Close to them is a small collection of stones - Cnoc an Tursa - that form a small cave. One day at around noon a shaft of light appeared to an archaeologist while he was waiting for a colleague. Further investigations took place and are outlined in a Stornoway Gazette item.

Scottish Islands Explorer - issues increasingly interesting

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Not So Old

Sir Chris Bonnington, pictured here with his late wife, Wendy, has turned 80 years-of-age. He has disproved notions of old age by climbing the 450' stack the Old Man of Hoy. An item in The Orcadian marks his achievement and his raising of funds to fight Motor Neurone Disease which claimed his wife's life.

Scottish Islands Explorer - Will be 80 in about 400 issues time

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Supplies for Shiants

The Shiants, between Lewis and Skye, are home to various breeding colonies of birds, to a flock of sheep and to a controlled number of visitors - including the owners, the Nicolson family, pictured above.

The pages of The Shiant Isles website examine the island group from many different angles, but the one on visiting is particularly illuminating as well as helpful. Here is included a list of recommended supplies to keep three hungry men satisfied for four days. That's some task.

Scottish Islands Explorer - for minds hungry for islands

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Papa Stour Circular

Papa Stour (below) and its adjacent islets of Lyra Skerry and Fogla Skerry (above) provide a fascinating location for a well-documented walk in a series featuring Shetland.

Geos, voes, cliffs, natural arches, a kirk, airstrip, former fish curing station and leper colony are among many features that surprise and delight on the ten-mile walk for which eight hours should be allowed.

The places to start are WalkShetland and then, after the ferry from West Burrafirth, the waiting room and visitors' centre above.

Scottish Islands Explorer - discovering what's on islands

Monday, 18 August 2014

Shetland Reel

The impressionistic display of the above product was created for the set-up of new lines from the Shetland Distillery at Saxa Vord, Unst (below). Well ahead of whisky came the first bottles of gin when Shetland Reel  

was launched last Friday. The story is to be found in The Shetland Times item; the liquor will soon be found throughout the islands and beyond.

Scottish Islands Explorer - make it a double, too

Sunday, 17 August 2014

One Good Life to Another

Gometra lies to the west of Ulva, Mull. It is only 1.6 square miles in extent, but with a highest point of 509' classifies, just, as a Marilyn. It's name derives either from the Norse for 'good man's island' - probably referring to a priest or anchorite in residence - or from the Gaelic for 'only at low tide' - once joined just by a beach, but now by a bridge. It has an agricultural tradition and was a supplier for the monastery on Iona. Its houses have been restored since the 1980s and its residents maintain a low-impact, off-grid existence - or 'good life'.

Scottish Islands Explorer - survives off some national grids

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Ness Men Ready

St Ronan's sister, Brenhilda, supposedly lived there in the 6th Century, while Dean Munro reported that the men of Ness visited her former 'home', Sula Sgeir, in 1549. Soon it will be in the news again for the hunters will be setting off within weeks for the islet and the centuries-old annual cull will begin. To some diners the young guga will be a delicacy; to others it will not. However, take a look at a remarkable collection of images that appears on Flickr and experience something of being on a rocky outpost some 40 miles from habitation.

Scottish Islands Explorer - something of an acquired taste, out now

Thursday, 14 August 2014

None Recorded

The Moon rises over Gunna, between Coll and Tiree, and must have shone on someone there at one time. However, there are no written records of people having lived on the 168 acres that rise to 115'. There is evidence that an anchorite inhabited it once - with a spring and the remains of a small cell at Port na Cille [Port of the Chapel] on the south side and a cave that could have provided shelter on the north coast. In more recent times a CalMac vessel sails through the Sound of Gunna.

Scottish Islands Explorer - enjoyed by the occasional anchorite

Vikings in Lewis

The world's largest Viking replica ship, the Dragon Harald, is in Stornoway for a brief visit while returning to Norway from Liverpool. It's on the return leg of a voyage and has been on the open seas for six weeks with a crew of 32. Full details of the vessel, voyage and venture are in the Stornoway Gazette.

Scottish Islands Explorer - prefers to be the real thing

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Lighthouses to Luxury

The Northern Lighthouse Board's tender Fingal was built in 1963 and for the rest of the century serviced remoter parts of the Scottish coast, working out of Oban (above) for 30 years and Stromness for six. Then it was sold and became known as the Windsor Castle. Appropriately it is to be converted and follow in the wake of another well-known ship by becoming a luxury hotel at Leith, where the Royal Yacht Britannia is berthed. For full details of this story, access the item in The Orcadian.

Scottish Islands Explorer - no plans to convert, as yet

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Channel Challenge

The Knab, Lerwick, is a south-facing ness with Bressay in the distance. A group of 18 anticipates swimming across the 1200-metre stretch of water from the harbour in Lerwick early next month. It looks idyllic and will be raising funds for charity, but a Shetland News item puts the endurance event into context.

Scottish Islands Explorer - prefers shorter engagements

Monday, 11 August 2014

Stunning Stone Shots

The Old Man of Hoy is a natural phenomenon; the standing stones of Orkney are part of the constructions of Mankind. Several of the latter appear in a remarkable Daily Mail feature that presents the work of National Geographic photographer, Jim Richardson.

Scottish Islands Explorer - combines natural and human forces

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Starboard to Stornoway

When yachts in the Northern Isles head south, they could well make a starboard turn and negotiate the Pentland Firth and The Minch to reach Stornoway. Here a ready welcome awaits at the Marina. Yesterday saw the official opening of its extension with berths available for up to 85 vessels. The Stornoway Gazette reported the event. Chairman and Chief Executive of the Stornoway Port Authority, Angus Smith and Jane Maciver, toast the success of the venture for which they are responsible.

Scottish Islands Explorer - accustomed to crossing the water

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Vive La Vie

The arrival of the super yacht, Vive La Vie, in Stromness brought a touch of Mediterranean glamour to Orkney yesterday morning. The vessel had been reported in Lerwick earlier in the week. It allegedly belongs to the Swiss entrepreneur, Willy Michel, whose company makes medical equipment. A few more details and a fine photograph by Craig Taylor appear in The Orcadian.

Scottish Islands Explorer - ready to board, again.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Swiftly to Skye

The Scottish Citylink services to Skye from Glasgow have been awarded jointly to Shiel Buses and West Coast Motors. New coaches are being introduced on the popular routes, one of which operates via Fort William. The details of the improved services and facilities are in this West Highland Free Press item.

Scottish Islands Explorer - ready to get on board

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Have Blog; Will Travel

Katie MacLeod (26) from Point, Lewis, is a finalist in the blog awards presented by Cosmopolitan magazine. 'Stories My Suitcase Could Tell' presents her travels in a range of places, from New York City to St Kilda. Read all about it in the West Highland Free Press item.

Scottish Islands Explorer - plenty to write home about

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Now for ... Relaxation?

These photographs of Sanday beaches by Myra Stockton should interest island resident, William Sichel. Yesterday, in New York, he finished a 3,100-mile race that took him 50 days to complete. Soon he should be home in Orkney, possibly to relax? The Orcadian gives details of the endurance event.

Scottish Islands Explorer - 50 days is almost the time between issues

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

The Best of Beaches

Everyone has their favourite beach. Luskentyre, South Harris, has its devotees, while yesterday's image of Erraid, Ross of Mull, was nominated by its photographer as the outstanding one. Any nominations of others, please?

Scottish Islands Explorer - has nominated plenty in the past 15 years

Monday, 4 August 2014

Enter & Exit Erraid

Here is the perfect retreat, particularly on a Monday morning. Erraid is at the south-west corner of the Ross of Mull and is within sight of Iona. The latter receives tens of thousands of visitors a year; the former does not. It was a hub for lighthouse construction and servicing while now the Findhorn Community endeavours to provide enlightenment for people. The pier and buildings are approached by boat; one of its fine beaches provides a route on foot at low tide for entering and exiting. Discover more by clicking on here.

Scottish Islands Explorer - likes to be off the tourist trails