Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Work on Words Ahead

The Gaelic language has its 'heartlands' in the north-west of Scotland. It has received a boost from new funding of £2.5 million for the next phase of a full Gaelic dictionary that will take up to 30 years to compile and feature some 100,000 words. Read (in English) about it on the BBC Website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - looks forward to covering its completion by 2048
Digital Edition: undoubtedly new technologies will be used in compilation

Monday, 23 April 2018

Milk from Lewis, Again

Although milk production ceased in Stornoway in 2012 and ended a long Western Isles tradition, it was only a temporary break. A 60-head herd of Guernsey and Ayrshire cattle is now producing at Moorpark Dairy in South Braggar, Isle of Lewis. Details are in The Press and Journal.

Scottish Islands Explorer - in production since 2000
Digital Edition: now supplying demand continuously

Sunday, 22 April 2018

The Modern House

Yesterday was viewing day for The Shed, at Tokavaig, Isle of Skye, a property designed for her own use by the architect,  Mary Arnold-Foster. It is featured here by The Modern House.

Take a look at her work and locations of properties by accessing her website here. What a stimulating way to spend part of a Sunday morning ... or any day for that matter. 

Scottish Islands Explorer - loves exploring properties
Digital Edition: a full-read, through the latest technologies

Saturday, 21 April 2018

A Photo to Frighten

Two of our most regular readers, David and Margaret Gartside, researched the internet following yesterday's blog. They discovered this Google image of The Windhouse. It, let alone the house, is haunting.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has a low fear-factor
Digital Edition: impresses with its speed of impact

Friday, 20 April 2018

A Haunting Image

One of our readers, Mark Stockdale, has sent in this 'atmospheric' image of The Windhouse, on Yell, Shetland. It is apparently among the most haunted houses in Britain. It was originally built as a laird's house and is still featured as being 'on the market' with Harper Macleod, a local estate agent.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has readers on Yell
Digital Edition: connects to houses by internet

Thursday, 19 April 2018

New Edition Out

Digital subscribers received their copies last weekend; print-versions to subscribers started arriving from Monday; all retail outlets had been stocked by yesterday. So the May / June 2018 edition of Scottish Islands Explorer is out and there to be enjoyed. Do join in.

Scottish Islands Explorer - from £24.97 a year
Digital Edition: just £9.99 for the six issues each year 

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

An Atmospheric Scene

The atmospheric conditions at Uig Beach, Isle of Lewis, are captured here by Diane Scott and published in the BBC's Your Pictures of Scotland series. There is, as ever, an interesting range of photographs in the gallery.

Scottish Islands Explorer - the BBC series always incorporates island images
Digital Edition: would come through despite the cloud build-up

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Daily Paper Delivery

Yesterday saw the re-introduction of a service, last seen in 2013, for the residents of Benbecula and the Uists - daily newspapers on sale in the morning. Loganair's 07.15 flight from Glasgow to Benbecula brought newspaper supplies ahead of the times linked to ferry services. See the Stornoway Gazette for details, but wonder whether in the past five years digital deliveries direct to devices must have been taken up from 04.00 daily.

Scottish Islands Explorer - not tied to such tight schedules
Digital Edition: usually days ahead of the print edition

Monday, 16 April 2018

Shetland Bus - 75 Years On

The Norwegian wartime vessel, the recently-restored Hitra arrived at Scalloway on Friday morning as part of the anniversary of going into service, 75 years ago, with the Shetland Bus operations. Full details are in Shetland News.

Scottish Islands Explorer - in service for a quarter of that time
Digital Edition: conveys information at the speed of light

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Destination Dibidil

The MBA bothy at Dibidil, Isle of Rum, was the destination of a backpacker whose blog is particularly well-illustrated. It also features on the cover and in the contents of the new Scottish Islands Explorer magazine. Copies will be in the shops on Wednesday 18 April, but digital subscribers have already received theirs. Why not consider joining them? See below.

Scottish Islands Explorer - encourages all levels of accommodation
Digital Edition: ahead of the print format

Saturday, 14 April 2018

... and the Winner ...?

In a recent competition to identify the world's most iconic / scenic airport, Barra was a leading contender. In the poll it came ... second. The winner was Donegal, pictured both above and from above. The details are in The Press and Journal.

Scottish Islands Explorer - where would it come among island publications?
Digital Edition: subscribers received their copies yesterday

Friday, 13 April 2018

From Concept to Comfort

First came the concept of a distillery on Raasay, then came the reality. Now there is a visitor centre, with tours available, a private members' club and ... luxury accommodation. The last feature is something of an ultimate and well worth seeing by simply clicking here.

Scottish Islands Explorer - makes island-going easy
Digital Edition: a simple way of accessing the print issues

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Rare Find on St Kilda

When a rare bird, a Hooded Merganser, finds one of the only two ponds on St Kilda, there's bound to be excitement. Go to Jill Pilkington's account in BirdGuides. You will not be disappointed.

Scottish Islands Explorer - this bird appears to be a seasoned explorer
Digital Edition: the new issue in this format will soon be out

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

MacAskill Goes Swiss

Watch Danny MacAskill, from Skye, performing his cycling stunts in Switzerland. It's here on YouTube.

Scottish Islands Explorer - occasionally goes abroad
Digital Edition: comes from on high

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

CalMac Retirement

CalMac's MV Eigg started service, albeit in different Scottish waters, when the last residents of Swona were living on their Orkney island. (See yesterday's blog). The ferry-ship, the oldest in the company's fleet, has served small island communities on the West-coast routes for some 45 years, mainly on the Lismore run, near Oban. It has been retired. The details are on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - ferries usually do not explore
Digital Edition: ideal for distant, small communities which have broadband

Monday, 9 April 2018

The Haven, Swona

When Neil Oliver had an article published about Swona, one of the smallest Orkney islands, it was August 2016. He looked back to the last residents sailing out of The Haven (above) for a new life on South Ronaldsay in 1974. The house where he stayed for a night was last occupied in 1927. His account, in The Sunday Times, is well worth reading.

Scottish Islands Explorer - in its 19th year
Digital Edition: still available on Swona, with the right kit

Sunday, 8 April 2018


You are looking through the windows of an eco-property on a remote peninsula on the Isle of Skye. Explore a little further, here, and find out more about Fiscovaig and The Hen House, built for £123k with fuel outgoings of £40 per month.

Scottish Islands Explorer - one month's bill for almost two year's subscription
Digital Edition: alternatively four years of access to the magazine for under £40

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Aerial Activity

The Press and Journal has some outstanding film footage taken from a drone above the Highlands & Islands. Here's a way to spend a stimulating two minutes - with full screen access - this weekend. 

Scottish Islands Explorer - looks into islands and occasionally down on them
Digital Edition: accesses the magazine with similar pinpoint accuracy

Friday, 6 April 2018

Fire on Rum

Here is Rum on a calm day with the cloud formations giving the illusion of smoke. Go to the BBC website for dramatic pictures of the fire, which started on Wednesday, on 50 acres of the island's mountains.

Scottish Islands Explorer - surrounded by water, but not protected
Digital Edition: accustomed to spreading quickly

Thursday, 5 April 2018

What Goes Up ...

Rapier missiles are fired regularly from Europe's busiest rocket range, on North Uist. One of them, possibly from that source, has been propelled and then brought down to Earth. It has eventually been washed up on a beach close to the River Howmore in South Uist, not that far away. An account appears in The Press and Journal

Scottish Islands Explorer - fires off every other month
Digital Edition: the internet delivers it far and wide

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Best of Rural Life

This image of Rosebank, Birsay, Orkney, by Max Fletcher, may feature a derelict house, but communicates space, peacefulness, scenic-views and a distant community. These, and other attributes, are reasons why living on the northern archipelago has been named the best rural place to reside in Britain for the second consecutive year. The details of the Rural Areas Quality of Life Survey, promoted by the Halifax Building Society, appear in The Orcadian.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a good addition to every island home
Digital Edition: become a subscriber within seconds

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Dinosaurs on Skye

A headland on Skye at Brothers' Point, on the Trotternish peninsula, has been a place for scientists to trek to assess the significance of the dinosaur tracks found there. Their findings are detailed on the BBC website and suggest that they are of global importance.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a print format, well beyond the dinosaur era
Digital Edition: the latest version, available globally

Monday, 2 April 2018

Neave or Coomb Island

It's time to take a trip, half a mile across the narrow channel of Caol Beag, from the settlement of Skerray, Sutherland, to Eilean Neave or its alternative name, Coomb Island. All is explained in a highly-informative account by Kris Erskine.

Scottish Islands Explorer - here's a publication ready for exploration
Digital Edition: here's access that's broad and encompassing

Sunday, 1 April 2018

April in Paris in Lerwick

Da Street in Lerwick will soon have a new shop on the block when C'est La Vie opens and brings a taste of French cuisine to the town. The details are in Shetland News and next week should see residents and visitors responding to the advice of 'allez vite'!

Scottish Islands Explorer - a French edition is a long way off
Digital Edition: available internationally at a uniform price

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Architectural Trail

To celebrate the RIAS Festival of Architecture, Western Isles Architects Group and An Lanntair have teamed up to create the 'Buildings our Islands' project to increase awareness of architecture in the Outer Hebrides. Take a look at the 29 notable places selected by clicking here. The Gatliff Hostel at Berneray (above) is included.

Scottish Islands Explorer - well aware of innovative designs through the ages
Digital Edition: the innovative way to subscribe

Friday, 30 March 2018

Oldany Island

Here's an archetypal image of a bay, beach, summer-house, sea and a self-propelled way of access. It's of a 500-acre tidal island in the south-west entrance to Eddrachillis Bay, Sutherland, and has a Norse name, Oldany. Perhaps it's that time of year - Good Friday - to make good intentions to visit during the Summer of '18?

Scottish Islands Explorer - certainly much to discover
Digital Edition: available every hour of every day throughout the year

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Island Games

The image of the football field on Eriskay, captured by Andrew Bulloch, won a category in a leading photographic competition that can be accessed here.

Scottish Islands Explorer - rarely covers soccer
Digital Edition:  passes from supplier to viewer fast

Wednesday, 28 March 2018


Taphonomy - the study of how organisms become fossilised - is not a word generally used. Its processes will be examined in relation to the large number of Neolithic bones that have been found in Orkney. Consider the article on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - various topics regularly unearthed
Digital Edition: studies revealed at speed

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Back Later, for Some

The last residents of Eilean nan Ron - off the north Sutherland coast - left in mid-1938 and it has been permanently uninhabited ever since. I saw it yesterday, but from a distance. The 70th anniversary of the evacuation will soon be commemorated. Watch this space.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has covered the island in past issues
Digital Edition: ready to run at any time 

Monday, 26 March 2018

Caught on Canvas

Beverley Chapman has caught Eilean Shona, a tidal island in Loch Moidart, on camera, perhaps ahead of her work on canvas. See more images in the BBC Your Pictures of Scotland series.

Scottish Islands Explorer - images proliferate
Digital Edition: items and images on demand

Sunday, 25 March 2018

A Great Bernera Buyout?

Great Bernera is to the right; Little Bernera to the left. The history of these islands off Lewis is somewhat different. Find out a little more about the background to a prospective buyout of the former that is featured in The Press and Journal.

Scottish Islands Explorer - subject to buying, not buyouts
Digital Edition: sells easily through the internet

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Hunt, Shoot & Fish Snip?

Do take a look at the selling points of the Barvas Estate, Isle of Lewis, for it offers hunting,shooting and fishing at what appears to be a reasonable asking price - £800k. It could be the right move through rightmove.

Scottish Islands Explorer - also good value
Digital Edition: is a snip at £9.99 for a year's subscription

Friday, 23 March 2018

South and West Walrus

The walrus, photographed here by Russell Neave, was spotted off North Ronaldsay, Orkney, earlier this month and featured in the blog on Saturday 10 March. Now sightings have occurred off Dunnet Head, Caithness, and 30 miles west of Thurso at Armadale, Sutherland. Is Wally heading for the Western Isles? An account of his trail is on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a walrus living up to the magazine's name
Digital Edition: also tracked by many

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Splash Out for Summer

Aircraft landing on the beach at Barra usually create a splash of interest with watchers. Now the operator is increasing the services for the Summer 2018 season involving flights to and from Barra and Tiree. So be prepared to splash out for a trip later this year. Read about the flight bonanza in the Stornoway Gazette.

Scottish Islands Explorer - pick up a magazine to take along
Digital Edition: can increase delivery services on demand

Wednesday, 21 March 2018


The Visitors' Centre at the Torabhaig Distillery on the Sleat Peninsula, Skye, opened last Monday. Here's a chance to take a look around before sampling - with each tour limited to eight people and lasting for 45 minutes at £10 a head. The distillery has been fully operational since January 2017, making a single-malt Scotch whisky.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a well-distilled product
Digital Edition: contains the spirit of the magazine at speed

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Fund Fair Isle Heat

Fair Isle, where Scottish Islands Explorer was first published in 2000, can be bitterly cold. However, residents do not have to don traditional knitwear products every time they visit their Community Hall, although there are occasions when dressing up in warm clothing is needed. The boiler is not functioning properly and funding has become necessary. Read about it in Shetland Times and if you feel able to help, please donate.

Scottish Islands Explorer - remains cool until opened
Digital Edition: travels through ether to reach readers

Monday, 19 March 2018

Ulva Buyout

The ferry to Ulva could be coming to fetch you to live on the island. At present only six people, including the landowner, live there. The plans are for more to take up residence if the community group that is interested can raise the money to purchase. The Scottish Land Fund has announced an award of £4.4 million for the property - covering the island and a part of Mull. The details are on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has covered the island
Digital Edition: well within reach of those who target it

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Spring into Life

A sign of springtime is evident at Melbost Borve, Lewis, from a photograph taken by Derek MacLeod. It appears in the BBC's Your Pictures of Scotland series. Of the 24 images on display, only three have immediate 'island connections', but two-thirds are linked with water.

Scottish Islands Explorer - renews every eight weeks
Digital Edition: can be brought to life within seconds

Saturday, 17 March 2018

In the Black

These properties on the Black Isle may well leave their owners in the black, rather than the red, according to an article in the Bricks & Mortar section of The Times on house-prices in the Highlands. See why the market for homes, not holiday houses, has grown.

Scottish Islands Explorer - demand for its pages develops
Digital Edition: 'hotspots' replacing 'notspots' in the Scottish Highlands

Friday, 16 March 2018

Accommodation Concepts

The West Highland Free Press carries an item on a proposed development in Portree. It illustrates how the dynamics and concepts of accommodation have changed - with a hub, pods, pool plus more. Skye has enjoyed a demand for places to stay as the numbers of visitors have increased in recent years. The prospective developers already run The Cowshed - a boutique bunkhouse - at Uig.

Scottish Islands Explorer - provides the luxury of both print ...
Digital Edition: ... and electronic formats

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Getting Up and Away

Here are two of Orkney's islands - Papa Westray (above) and Sanday. If you want to descend to see a couple of properties on sale - each needing renovation - then go to Kimbland and Benziecott. They could be secured, separately, for close to £100k and have fine sea views. It may be difficult, however, to find a house without such an outlook on these islands.

Scottish Islands Explorer - likes looking up places to live
Digital Edition: good to have copies at hand

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

A Seaweed Tonic

A carrageen seaweed pudding helped during a process that led to creating a distinctive gin on the island of Barra. Follow what happened from an item in the Stornoway Gazette. It's also in order to raise a glass to this, the 2,500th consecutive daily blog item. The series is now almost seven years old, having taken longer to distil than whisky, four years minimum, compared with gin-making, four days!

Scottish Islands Explorer - gives a fillip to many subscribers
Digital Edition: takes the air rather than the sea route

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Compare & Contrast

There's a somewhat misleading element about this photograph of a cruise ship in Lerwick Harbour with, apparently, four passengers strolling off. The season begins this week. When, later in the year, the MSC Maraviglia (171, 598 gross tonnes) arrives, one could see 4,500 passengers and 1,500 crew disembark, if all left the ship. Read the item in Shetland News, compare and contrast the numbers involved and, perhaps, be grateful that you are not in the town centre or at a tourist site on Shetland mainland. It could be crowded.

Scottish Islands Explorer - sales in Shetland could soar
Digital Edition: cruise ships must have internet connections

Monday, 12 March 2018

A Site / Sight to Behold

Go to the Property Section of Saturday's Daily Telegraph and take in the views out to sea. The Black House, Skye, is one to savour, in particular.

Scottish Islands Explorer - always promotes great views
Digital Edition: offers the full picture without hesitation or deviation