Saturday, 19 August 2017

A Whisky Galore Bottle

Take a look at the bay on the Isle of Eriskay where the SS Politician came to grief and where a legend began. It continues today with the Stornoway Gazette covering the story of an original bottle coming up for sale in ... Cheshire. Some bottles do get around.

Scottish Islands Explorer - archive copies sometimes appear
Digital Edition: its range of availability is long; life tends to be short

Friday, 18 August 2017

Regeneration of Ruins

The perspective of looking down on North Ronaldsay is attractive; the prospect of renovating this ruined mill-house on the island is not so appealing. Look at the slideshow of images on Zoopla. Shelter Scotland has identified a significant number of such buildings on Orkney and the North Ronaldsay Trust has named 30 houses in need of complete rebuilding. Plans have been put forward and are detailed on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - uses the modern facilities of Buxton Press
Digital Edition: state-of-the-art transmission

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Speed of Stitch

The World's fastest knitter will be appearing at the International Festival in Inverness in mid-October. Between 2004 and 2008 Helen Tindall, who was born in Shetland and specialises in Fair Isle knitwear, increased her competitive speed from 255 stitches in three minutes to 262. Read more at the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - comes together quickly
Digital Edition: comes close to the equivalent of this woollen speed!

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

New Edition in the Offing

Here's the photograph - of Mid Thundergay Old Cottage and Kilbrannan Sound, Arran - that is featured on the front cover of the new issue of Scottish Islands Explorer. The digital edition is ready to be downloaded; subscribers' copies should be delivered today; retail outlets should have them on the shelves by Friday. Do remember that the word 'offing' refers to the stretch of water between the land and the horizon. Enjoy the view!

Scottish Islands Explorer - the next issue will mark 15 years in full colour
Digital Edition: accept this invitation to look 

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Three of a (Not So) Kind

You are looking into the depths in the Western Isles where Derek Mackenzie, Solicitor and Estate Agent has a wide range of properties for sale. Three of them are certainly different. There is a place to work - Harris Outdoor Adventure, at Leverburgh; a place that needs work - the five-bedroom Former Doctors' House at Gravir, Lewis; and a place that has worked - the Former Pumping Station overlooking Loch Gil Speireig Mhor (pictured above) at Achmore, Lewis. The asking prices spiral down from £139K, to £95k and on to £5k.

Scottish Islands Explorer - available at under £4
Digital Edition: yours for under a tenner a year

Monday, 14 August 2017


For an empty stretch of island coastline, consider the middle, eastern section of South Uist. The commanding point is the lighthouse

once serviced from the storehouse in the bay, photographed here by Marc Calhoun, who went on to make an intended brief visit to the Mountain Bothies Association outpost nearby outpost below,

but where he encountered a most unusual person, an unsociable and uncommunicative resident visitor. Marc made his excuses and left!

Scottish Islands Explorer - you need to have the explorer gene to visit Uisinish
Digital Edition: likely to be uncommunicative here as well

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Yell for Beer?

Running a small island business is not easy, especially when the owners live a ferry journey away and lifestyle trends change. Read the Shetland News article about the Hilltop Bar in Mid Yell and you realise the complexities of the retail trade and of finding new owners who want to continue doing business in the same way.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a high-interest, niche-market publication
Digital Edition: serves customers quickly

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Some of Scotland's Surface

It's time to take a look at more of Scotland through the BBC series Your Pictures. They feature images here from the first full week of August and are led by a compelling look at the beach at Balevullin, Tiree, captured here by Peter Dawson.

Scottish Islands Explorer - attracts comparable photographs
Digital Edition: soon to be updated

Friday, 11 August 2017

From Depth to Surface

From the depths of Scapa Flow to, at least, the surface of your screen, comes a picture of the German battleship. the Markgraf, scuttled by its own crew after the end of the First World War. Its the first 'echosound' image of its type and the details are to be found on the BBC website.

Scottish IslandsExplorer - surfaces every other month
Digital Edition: the same type of technology at work

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Trust in the Kirk

There are a wealth of features in this Orkney kirk which will soon be preserved and promoted as a visitor attraction in Burwick, South Ronaldsay. Read about the St Mary's Preservation Trust on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - promotion, not preservation, always needed
Digital Edition: soon will be piping the next issue worlwide

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Shetland Sights

There are views of Shetland - such as this one of the tombola at St Ninian's; there are companies that will take you there - like McKinlay Kidd; and there is a range of Webcams to enable you to experience many features ahead of putting your foot on Shetland soil.

Scottish Islands Explorer - will encourage you to go north and west
Digital Edition: taking items and images to you directly

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Colonsay Grand Tour

Colonsay and its neighbouring tidal island, Oronsay, are considered to be the most revisited of the Scottish islands. They exercise appeal, as does the lavishly-illustrated (48 photographs) article on Geograph by Julian Paren. If you have yet to experience the many features of these islands - from Cable Bay (above) to the Strand between Colonsay and Oronsay (below), at least take the 'grand tour' on your computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone screen. Just click here and go.

Scottish Islands Explorer - from this blog with its 4,500 visitors daily
Digital Edition: has attracted over a thousand downloads

Monday, 7 August 2017

From Devon to Heaven?

Here are two images showing the bridge to Scalpay from North Harris. It features in an article in the Daily Telegraph where the advantages of living 'off' the mainland is assessed. One couple mentioned left their North Devon home five years ago to settle here and continue to cherish their move. Others chose Alderney and the Isle of Man.

Scottish Islands Explorer - focuses on visiting, not settling
Digital Edition: available on islands everywhere

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Orcadian Exotic

Yesterday saw the opening of a new facility on Orkney - the Fernvalley Wildlife Centre. It will be the home of a range of exotic creatures that are certainly not indigenous. Go to The Orcadian to see them in their new habitat near Tingwall, in the former parish of Rendall. This account of the venture involving Lisa and Gill Farrer is worth reading, just as the centre is well worth visiting.  

Scottish Islands Explorer - always looking for something different
Digital Edition: enables visitors to find from afar, fast

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Honesty Box to Tearoom?

There is a remarkable facility at Aith, Shetland - a commercial-scale honesty box for home-baked produce. Applications have been made to 'expand' the venture from a capacious box that is well-filled to that of a tearoom, capable of accommodating 20 customers. Read on at Shetland News.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a magazine with capacity for pleasure
Digital Edition: published to supply the world's needs

Friday, 4 August 2017

Underway on Uist

The Islands Book Trust Conference is underway and to learn about its topics and themes go to the Stornoway Gazette ... unless you can reach St Peter's Hall, Daliburgh, South Uist, in time.

Scottish Islands Explorer - endeavours to be out on time
Digital Edition: prompt dispatch; instant reception

Thursday, 3 August 2017

One Hundred Years On

When the Royal Navy's newest aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, sailed into Scapa Flow yesterday, it was part of a tribute to Edwin Dunning who there, a hundred years ago, had performed the first landing of a plane on a ship, HMS Furious. The Orcadian carries the story.

Scottish Islands Explorer - lands successfully on doormats, worldwide
Digital Edition:  does similar on screens everywhere

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Sunny Side of Shetland

July saw something significant by way of weather. Shetland clocked up more hours of sunshine than Cornwall. See how the BBC website has covered this phenomenon.

Scottish Islands Explorer - helps create sunny dispositions
Digital Edition: travels to you at the speed of light

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Summer Isles by Canoe

On this first day of August it certainly sounds attractive to take a trip to the Summer Isles. Going by canoe and exploring some of the sea caves and arches as well as raised beaches give it that added twist. At least read the account by Calum, but do note that his Hamlet Mountaineering entry was published in mid-January.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has regularly featured these isles
Digital Edition: difficult to receive deliveries in caves

Monday, 31 July 2017

Barley Day on Raasay

As July came to an end, R&B Distillers held an open Barley Day on the Isle of Raasay, where some of their whisky is to be produced. The various varieties of barley were growing, being inspected by those with professional as well as amateur interests, in readiness for the top three crops to be selected at the end of August for production purposes.

It looks as though the Bere, Kannas and Iskira varieties are doing particularly well. It is exciting that a Celtic well, with high mineral content, is on site and that there are plentiful supplies of peat in the north of the island. A really-local whisky could result. The photographs at a rather special open day were taken by Gregor McLellan.

Scottish Islands Explorer - always ready to sample
Digital Edition: always available

Sunday, 30 July 2017

High Jinx

This pod of killer whales off Woodwick was photographed in 2010 by Brydon Thomason and is presented by Shetland Nature. Last week there was much comparable activity in the area and Shetland News has a remarkable image of high jinx in the water captured by Jim Nicolson.

Scottish Islands Explorer - puts on a show on a bi-monthly schedule
Digital Edition: takes pods to iPads.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Decline and Mothball

Martin Parr's photograph of the teacher and pupils of North Ronaldsay Primary School was taken in 1998. Now, almost 20 years on, read about the future of the Orkney island school in The Times. Fair Isle, which was featured yesterday, is a few miles to the north. Both islands are hoping to increase their populations. A 'moth-balled' school ready-to-open for its next pupil(s) is surely an incentive for a new family to consider resettlement.

Scottish Islands Explorer - constantly re-opens every eight weeks
Digital Edition: always turned on and ready to be opened

Friday, 28 July 2017

Powering Up

The residents of, and visitors to, Fair Isle have relatively low expectations of their electricity supplies. That's about to change as new technologies are being introduced, meaning that being switched on means just that. See how The Times covers the event of powering up being a constant factor.

Scottish Islands Explorer - supplies are on a regular basis
Digital Edition: always switched on

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Hamlet Mountaineering

Imagine that here is one of your target climbs, Stac Lee, a 'Marilyn' in the St Kilda Group. Below it is seen at the end of the day's climbing, which is described and brilliantly-illustrated on the blog Hamlet Mountaineering for 18 October 2015. Be ready to be impressed.

Scottish Islands Explorer - focus on the high points in all ways
Digital Edition: climbing out of the chair eliminated

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Passages of Time

Yesterday was when a blog-reader discovered the entry for 31 December 2012 and commented on the location of the house at Mulhagery, in the Pairc, Lewis. There is no road access to this extensive tract of land. Consequently, when a Lockheed Hudson bomber crashed close by, at Fiar Chreag, in 1942, the wreckage was never recovered.  75 years have slipped by since the aircraft was flying; perhaps a 150 since life was flourishing in and immediately around the house?

Scottish Islands Explorer - reveals some historic aspects
Digital Edition: accesses satellite links

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

View Down from a Drone

Time to relax, even if on the edge of your computer seat, and take in the images from a drone cruising down the Hebrides from North Uist to Vatersay. Just go to YouTube.

Scottish Islands Explorer - enjoy taking in an issue or two
Digital Edition: all part of the same technology

Monday, 24 July 2017

Across Out Skerries

The MV Filla, on its regular service to the Out Skerries jetty on Bruray, will not pass Bound Skerry, the most easterly point of Britain, but it will afford a good view of Easter Skerries (below) and, perhaps, a glimpse of Mio Ness, the 'narrow headland' (bottom) at the south-west end of Housay as well as of Filla, after which the ship is named.

An interesting image and item about North Benelip is to be found on the blog of Andy Strangeway who, as ever, ventured beyond the usual parameters. The names of North and South Benelip sound more like London Underground stations than islets at the east end of the Out Skerries, Shetland.

Scottish Islands Explorer - promotes the remote
Digital Edition: part of the internet mainstream

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Ulva Buyout?

The island of Ulva is well within the boundaries of Mull, but public access is currently by the passenger ferry above. It is not a large craft for the 4,600 acres that have been owned by the Howard family for over a century. Their £4.25 million sale of the island, recently announced, has been halted now that a community buyout has been proposed. The number of permanent residents is not high and so it will be a test-case to see whether monies can be raised to fund the purchase. Read all about it in The Herald.

Scottish Islands Explorer - currently for sale ... at £3.95 per copy
Digital Edition: also available at £9.99 per year

Saturday, 22 July 2017

A Great Eastern Railway

Thanks to Andy Strangeway, advocate and adventurer, we have an image of Bound Skerry, the most easterly point of the British Isles. The lighthouse, built in 1857, in the Out Skerries group of Shetland also had its means of construction and of delivering supplies - a railway. Apparently it was bombed twice during the Second World War, mistaken for a munitions factory.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a publication named after one man?
Digital Edition: delivered along the fast tracks of the 21st Century

Friday, 21 July 2017

Remote Rocks Railway

When it comes to remote railways in Britain, the one on Sule Skerry, 40 miles west of Orkney, comes into the extreme category. It is on the South Landing and was used for conveying rocks during the 1892 - 94 construction of the 88ft lighthouse on the 35-acre islet that rises 45ft above sea level. The photograph, taken in 1967 by David Glass, is now 50 years old. Read a full account of a part of Sutherland  in this Photographers' Resource. The lighthouse is the most distant from any other settlement in the UK.

Scottish Islands Explorer - likes to feature places that are remote
Digital Edition: overcomes distance effortlessly

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Take a Closer Look

Here is the lighthouse and dwelling on Little Ross, the island featured on the blog yesterday and still on the market today. The Caithness-based publisher, Whittles, is preparing for the October launch of its new book, Life and Death on Little Ross by David Collin. The author was there on the day of the murder of a lighthouse keeper and, 57 years later, gives a full account of the incident, the 117 years of devoted service by the Northern Lights Board staff as well as of the life and times of the island and its community.

Scottish Islands Explorer - will feature the book in the Nov / Dec issue
Digital Edition: acts quickly when requested

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Little Ross; Big News

Lighthouses have their secrets, but what happened on Little Ross, off the Dumfries & Galloway coast, in 1960 became a big news story. Now it is being revived with the prospective sale of the 29-acre island for an asking price of £325k. The details of the past are in the Daily Telegraph; the current features are presented by Galbraith of Castle Douglas.

Scottish Islands Explorer - few hidden secrets
Digital Edition: open to all at a moment's notice

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Currency Uncovered

The Knowe of Swandro archaeological site on Rousay, Orkney, continues to spring surprises. The latest is the discovery of a mid-4th Century Roman coin. The last to be found in a comparable position was in sand dunes on the Western Isles about ten years ago. Go to the BBC website for the full story.

Scottish Islands Explorer - deals in sterling
Digital Edition: at a reasonable price - £9.99 per year

Monday, 17 July 2017

Skye Lines

Both the design of the window and the view from this dwelling on Loch Duich are compelling. Take a look at more features of the house at Letterfearn and then learn about the Skye-based architectural company, Rural Design.

Scottish Islands Explorer - subject to design and scrutiny
Digital Edtion: delivers in a thrice