Sunday, 30 November 2014

Revived and Ready

The tradition of Gaelic singing has a worldwide following and interest will be aroused by the release of a new CD from an original recording at Bragar, Lewis, made at a ceildih late in 1981. The Stornoway Gazette has a full account of the initiative of two teachers at the primary school which, 33 years later, has led to sales of of Ceòl à Bhràdhagair. At £10 here is a piece of cultural history at an inflation-free price.

Scottish Islands Explorer - maintains its subscriptions at 2010 levels

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Old-style Crossing

The ferry crossing of Loch Linnhe at the Corran Narrows, nine miles south of Fort William, is a vital link for the communities of Ardgour, Sunart, Kingairloch, Morvern and Ardnamurchan. The alternative routes involve serious distances. There is concern at present about the continuing operation of the service by the Highland Council. For an historic perspective look at the page from Undiscovered Scotland where there is a reminder that this type of ferry was at one time the norm in parts of the Highlands & Islands before bridges and causeways replaced them.

Scottish Islands Explorer - ferry dependent

Friday, 28 November 2014

Auskerry Products

One bird flies away from the lighthouse; another from its mates. Both photographs were taken on the Isle of Auskerry in the Orkney group where a family has resided for the past 30 years. They operate a mail order company and there could still be time to acquire a seasonal gift for someone not living on an island that's just the size of six football pitches. Click on above and ideas may come to you.

Scottish Islands Explorer - copies will be ready to fly in mid-December

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Best Outdoors

Angus Campbell pioneered the concept of day-trips to St Kilda and both he and his company, Kilda Cruises, have received recognition for this work. Read the Stornoway Gazette item on the Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards - Best Outdoor Adventure Experience -  and to whet your appetite for a visit to the island group, 41 miles out into the Atlantic, take in the images on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - here's the place to explore

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

In the Red

Gigha has, in many ways, been the flagship of the community buyouts since 98 islanders approved it in 2002, but the IGHT (Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust) now finds itself £2.7 million in debt. This week sees a crucial meeting of the now 170 residents. The Herald has the story of how red figures can discolour life.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aware of financial pressures

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

New Life by the Loch?

Take the spinal route south out of Stornoway on the road to Harris, go through the four-mile long Balallan and at the junction take the left-hand turning towards the South Lochs. Within a relatively-short distance you will be at Shieldinish and its main building, the Loch Erisort Inn. Stop for a meal or a drink. However, you could stop right here and consider its potential as a commercial property by clicking onto its name. Ready for a new working-life?

Scottish Islands Explorer - is in the market for looking; not on it for sale

Monday, 24 November 2014

Kit & Wit for Zig-Zag

The Postman's Path from Urga to Rhenigidale is straightforward, in parts, but does have many twists and turns. It was the main walk to the settlement on the North Harris coast until the road was finished in 1989. Occasionally people try to either cycle or take their bikes along it - an activity that is not advised. You need to have the proper kit, to have wits about you and a head for heights on the zig-zag. However, the adventurous like to show their prowess and take 'selfies' in video form. This YouTube journey will make your Monday commute to work seem tame.

Scottish Islands Explorer - downhill reading all the way

Sunday, 23 November 2014

From Port of Ness

Island Fisherman by Anthony Barber has been selected to appear at the Royal Scottish Academy Open Exhibition at the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, from Friday 28 November.

The artist, who was born in Stoke-on-Trent and trained in West Yorkshire, moved to Lewis ten years ago and now works full-time from his studio and gallery overlooking the harbour and beach of Port of Ness.

Scottish Islands Explorer - would appreciate having this outlook

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Contrasting Crossings

The MV Dagalien conveys passengers to and from Mainland Shetland and Yell throughout the day and into the evening. Some crossings are sedate and calm - as this YouTube clip suggests, and some are livelier - as a fully illustrated report from the Daily Mail indicates.

Scottish Islands Explorer - likes to strike up the band

Friday, 21 November 2014

Uttermost of Extremes

Captain Ronnie Maclean, from Lewis, has been accustomed to some remote places and positions. None more so than the most southerly recorded into the Antarctic's Ross Sea, achieved last January and recently appearing in the Guinness Book of Records. The details are in the Daily Record and a video of some of the scenes encountered is on the website of the Stornoway Gazette.

Scottish Islands Explorer - sales, not sails, throughout the world

Thursday, 20 November 2014

The Uig Hub

The road curves down the hill, around the bay and ends at Uig Pier, Skye. It appears peaceful enough here in this image - particularly with no ships in sight - but from 22 February - 7 April Uig will become something of a hub. Owing to improvement work on docking facilities at Ullapool, there will be a passenger-only service to and from there and Stornoway. Vehicle and freight carrying will be on two separate services on the Stornoway - Uig route. The crossings from Uig to Lochmaddy and Tarbert will continue unaffected. The Stornoway Gazette has the details of this six-week amendment to CalMac's changes.

Scottish Islands Explorer - services uninterrupted ... all being well

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Kit-free for Tiree

The above image was staged by a PR company in 2009 in an attempt to promote a surfing competition on Tiree. It appeared ... and did the trick. The image below also has natural attractions and indicates why Tiree has become something of the 'Hawaii of the Hebrides'. Residents of the island are aware that the popularity of the sport leads to crowded ferries and over-demand for seats on aircraft, especially in the summer months. Taking kit off may get your picture around the world, but it won't secure a ticket to Tiree.

Scottish Islands Explorer - covers waves, boards and beaches

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Foula or Corfu?

The Noup - a fine feature of Foula - looks imposing at any time of year. However, staying on Foula, the most remote permanently-settled of the British isles, requires some planning and around now is when it can well be done for next. The crofthouse bungalow, Leraback, could be a place to begin looking. If you want an alternative, by name only, then there is the Villa Foula ... in Corfu.They're somewhat different!

Scottish Islands Explorer - its preferences lie northward

Monday, 17 November 2014

Saved from the Water

The waters of North Uist are either of the wide sea or from its many inland lochs. These photographs, taken from a 1946 Auster aircraft, show how extensive they are. Recently a prehistoric basket was retrieved on the shore and it has now been been sent for analysis. The first suggestions are that it is 3,500 years old. The Stornoway Gazette item supplies more details.

Scottish Islands Explorer - preserved in a CD Archive

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Beauty and the Beach

This image of Luskentyre Beach, Harris, serves as a good introduction to a regular Slideshow that appears each week in the Stornoway Gazette. Readers are invited to send in their photographs of the 'beautiful islands'.

Scottish Islands Explorer - panoramas, places and people

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Massive Metalwork

The Fetlar Bronze Armlet (below) was found at Brough Lodge (above) as part of a hoard in 1772. It dates from a period in the latter part of the Iron Age when there was a 'massive metalwork' phase evident in the north of Scotland. It became part of a collection in the University of Cambridge, but will be on view at the Shetland Museum, Lerwick until 20 January 2015. The full story of this intricate, hinged piece of body armour is to be found in Shetland News.

Scottish Islands Explorer - requires a different type of craftsmanship

Friday, 14 November 2014

Through the Lens

Make a note - Saturday 29 November at the Kildonan Museum, South Uist - of a presentation - Through the Lens - of the photographs of Margaret Fay Shaw. This is an evening, promoted by the Islands Book Trust, in the company of Professor Hugh Cheape and others. Be prepared by reading his obituary in The Independent of the late musicologist, photographer and writer who died, aged 101, in 2004.

Scottish Islands Explorer - will be that age in 2101

Thursday, 13 November 2014

North Way to Norway

A new service opens later this month - the Bergen Air Transport link to Sumburgh, Shetland. A 12-seater Beechcraft plane will be used for both business and leisure passengers to and from Bergen and it will re-establish some of the connections that go back centuries before flying. Why not consider a couple of weeks in the Northern Isles and a long weekend in Norway? Some of the details are to be found in a BBC website item.

Scottish Islands Explorer - seeking connections between communities

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Island Hopping

The label says it all. From the Swannay Brewery, near Elvie in Mainland Orkney, comes the Overall Champion Beer winner in the SIBA Scotland Regional Beer Competition for 2014 - Island Hopping. If your browser allows you to see the smaller print - 16 smaller inhabited islands in the Orkney group are listed.

Scottish Islands Explorer - devoted to the pursuit, of island hopping, that is.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Tidal Surprises

The shores of North Uist have a way of springing surprises. Take a look at the crafted - with the Uist Sculpture Trail - and then consider the unexpected - with the remains of a 'prehistoric basket' which appears to have been washed up and is featured in a BBC item.

Scottish Islands Explorer - tries to uncover the unknown

Monday, 10 November 2014

North by Design

There's an interesting story here - in The Scotsman - about a change-of-career decision that led to Shetland for a course. This has been followed by creative flair leading to a business set-up. Now new fashion products sell to appreciative customers. Go to Nielanell to see what's on offer.

Scottish Islands Explorer - also has creativity at the heart of a business

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Walk High on Islay

There's a series of images and an accompanying text of a walk taken in sunshine earlier this November on the heights of Islay. Get up there via the Islay Blog and take in the panoramic views from on high. Below is a photograph of the Sound of Islay taken from sea level by Ewan Graham.

Scottish Islands Explorer - presents the panoramic whenever possible

Saturday, 8 November 2014

50 Years Served

Professor Donald Macleod (75) has served the Free Church of Scotland as a minister for 50 years. He was born in Ness, Lewis, the son of a joiner / carpenter, schooled at The Nicolson Institute, Stornoway, and the University of Glasgow, and was ordained on 5 November 1964. He is an acclaimed theologian, a prolific writer and continues to teach at the Edinburgh Theological College. The photograph is from The Guardian and a full-length profile is in the Stornoway Gazette.

Scottish Islands Explorer - soon to be 16 years in service

Friday, 7 November 2014

A Haven and Hinterland

Somewhere ... on North Harris ... over the rainbow ... at Rhenigidale ... is a simple hostel that is a haven in an area which provides a wilderness experience. A remarkable introduction is now available with commentary and images of the hinterland to the hostel, its history, an appropriate item of Gaelic music and, above all, an invitation. Go to the Rhenigidale Gatliff Hostel in the company of Julian Paren by sitting back and enjoying his nine-minute slideshow video. It is compelling and could well make you yearn to visit in person.

Scottish Islands Explorer - also presents places to explore, not to rush through

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Ready for Work?

The first three business units developed by the North Harris Trust are nearing completion and will soon be ready for tenants. What about making a serious enquiry in order to work in an area of outstanding beauty with levels of busyness lower than many? More details appear in a Stornoway Gazette item.

Scottish Islands Explorer - would make an idyllic partnership

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Eleven and Above

The road sign says it all - '10' - in this case, ten-year-olds, who are not eligible to attend Anderson High School, Lerwick. However, over a hundred children of eleven and above from outlying Shetland islands may be boarding there on a weekly, term-time basis. The Guardian carries the story. Apparently there is a surge of interest by the young in boarding in some parts of the UK. The plans on offer here have been met with resistance by quite a number of parents who, understandably, have misgivings.

Scottish Islands Explorer - offers boarding on islands, metaphorically

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Look Inside the Seaforth

It's time - with 75 seconds of slideshow video - to look inside the new MV Loch Seaforth, which should be sailing the Ullapool - Stornoway route for CalMac within the next few weeks. Go to the Stornoway Gazette item for your first glimpses of what's to come.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has plenty to discover inside as well

Monday, 3 November 2014

Hebridean Heaven

Some travellers in the past would have used this ancient, boulder bridge to approach Mol Ban in Harris. Now access is considerably easier and the lines of this nearby self-catering cottage indicates modernity. Enliven a Monday or any working-day

by viewing the fine video of the facilities to rent and the scenes to enjoy. Going, via your computer, to Mol Ban is a must and do flick to full screen, with the sound on, for four minutes of Hebridean heaven.

Scottish Islands Explorer - for still images that captivate

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Ten Million and Rising

DASG - Digital Access of Scottish Gaelic - started in 2006 and has studied full texts of the 20th Century as well as speech recorded in Scotland and Nova Scotia, Canada, in the three decades from 1960. Some ten million words are now brought together in the first part of establishing fully-searchable documentation. This will rise to 30 million as the work progresses. Full details of the project are in a Stornoway Gazette item.

Scottish Islands Explorer - knows well how words counts

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