Saturday, 30 June 2012

Lightest Week is Over

The lightest of the year's weeks is over and  its good to celebrate those long hours with a couple of sun-shots  from Graemsay in the Orkney group on Life on a Small Island.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aware that the lighter months lead to higher sales

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Ducks and Drakes

The old pebble-skimming game of 'ducks and drakes' takes on a new look at Machir Bay on Islay. The image comes from the Islay Blog, a site that gives pleasure and information about an island that has its many enthusiasts.

Scottish Islands Explorer - ducks and dives between islands

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Thousands from on High

17,000 images from historic aerial photographs of Scotland are now available from Above Online of RCAHMS (Aerofilms Collection). Here is one of the Forth Bridge that uses the islet, Inchgarvie, as a straddling point.

Scottish Islands Explorer - straddles hundreds of islands

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Bag a Bargain

These greetings cards produced by Colin Baxter cost just £1.25 each. The scenes are from the Highlands and Islands and they represent what's best on or off shore and up or down land. Select, collect and send.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aware of good scenes

Monday, 25 June 2012

What Would They Say?

The male attenders at this St Kilda Parliament would not have comprehended talk about 'an interpretative centre' to be found almost 50 miles away, some 80 plus years after their island was 'evacuated'. So take a look at the facebook site of the St Kilda Development Group and add your contribution to this debate about ways of commemorating and promoting study of what is now a World Heritage Site.

Scottish Islands Explorer - interpretations of islands around the Scottish coast

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Ready to Lighten the Day

The day with the maximum length of light is over for 2012 and so more darkness will feature for the rest of the year. Maximum preparation goes into whisky production and the new Abhainn Dearg Distillery, beyond Uig, looks forward to its current blend becoming an established malt. Information about this first commercial venture of its sort on Lewis is to be taken in small quantities, in readiness for the time when it will be widely available and enlighten the darkest of evenings.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a similar acquired taste  

Saturday, 23 June 2012

What a Ness!

Here is a stretch of the Shetland coastline, the Ness of Ireland near Maywick. It may be viewed in a far more extensive way by accessing  the informative and illustrative blog, Moder-Dye. Just a click and you are there.

Scottish Islands Explorer - just a credit card click away

Friday, 22 June 2012

Buried Treasures

Breanish is some way off, on 'a road to nowhere' beyond Uig, on Lewis. It, of course, has much to offer, including peat, a beach and ... books. It is the location of a publisher making a really remarkable offer - of two books for £9.99 with postage and packing at no additional cost. Save a long journey by clicking on to Two Ravens Press and browsing their list of sale items.

Scottish Islands Explorer - also contains treasures

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Getting Around

An ascent of Wideford Hill, Mainland Orkney (above), could give spectators a glimpse of the appropriately-named, Richard Walker, making his way today around the island. He is on a 146-mile trek which he hopes will raise substantial funds for charity. Consider his progress from the comfort of your chair and computer screen.

Scottish Islands Explorer - making progress, too

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Doom and Gloom

Doom comes from the Anglo-Saxon word for judgement and gloom refers to a dull and depressing level of light. Some religious groups are particularly associated with matters of decisions and darkness. The Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, which has a presence on Lewis and Harris, tends to be uncompromising and one of its ministers has spoken out against an independent Scotland. His arguments are outlined on the BBC website. The photograph is of the Stornoway Free Presbyterian Church - one of six rival presbyterian denominations in that town.

Scottish Islands Explorer - united in most respects

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Walk This Way

The prospect of a new long-distance route in the Hebrides is exciting. Look at the brief details about the proposed Way and then proceed to The Timeless Way where an existing book on the topic is to be found and secured.

Scottish Islands Explorer - wanting to walk the walk

Monday, 18 June 2012

Shopkeepers' Paradise

Saturdays are usually fairly busy in Lerwick and especially so when a cruise ship calls. Last Saturday saw the Costa Pacifica in port and up to 3000 potential shoppers come ashore. There's no accounting for people's interests, but probably many chose to see historical Viking boats in the museum rather than the current Boots, or whatever, in Commercial Street.

Scottish Islands Explorer - on sale in high streets everywhere

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Way Out West

Vatersay has a population of 94 and is Britain's most westerly island to be permanently inhabited. It also has what is perhaps the smallest post office in the country. Behind it is the ruined island residence of Lady Gordon Cathcart (1845-1932), who was an infamous owner of vast tracts of land that she visited infrequently while encouraging her tenants to emigrate.

Scottish Islands Explorer - currently being mailed from a larger post office 

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Flame on Kilda

The cliffs of Hirta seem to be alight, at least symbolically. An Olympic Torch re-enactment recently took place on the island and was reported in the Stornoway Gazette. The former St Kilda residents were evacuated mid-way between the 1928 Games in Amsterdam and those held in Los Angeles in 1932.

Scottish Islands Explorer - keeping island interests alight

Friday, 15 June 2012

A View with a Room

The attractions of Skara Brae, obviously big in their time, have been enhanced by contemporary facilities. Recent figures have shown an increase to almost 70,000. Some appeal?

Scottish Islands Explorer - would like similar circulation numbers  

Thursday, 14 June 2012

'Not Spots'

Blog constuction is running late today owing to so-called 'not spots' in the Western Isles. Phone calls and texts can be exchanged - thanks to 2G - but internet access requires 3G and this has not been immediately available, until this evening on Barra. Tomorrow should see action similar to that apparently being undertaken by the young man above.

Scottish Islands Explorer - keen on hot spots

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Beach Walking

The benefits of broadband are many, although there is something special about getting someone to go on a walk for you. So if you fancy a stroll on Machair Beach, Islay, an option is to accompany someone who walked it last April. If you enjoy the experience, then respond via the Islay Blog where it is featured.

Scottish Islands Explorer - shares visual as well as verbal experiences

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Higher Fire Required

This empty fire station is on Foula. The appliance must have been out on action, of some sorts. A recent report has placed the stations at Sleat on Skye, Flotta on Orkney, Out Skerries and Foula on Shetland in what can only be termed as 'a difficult position'. The BBC carries the story.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aware of emergencies

Monday, 11 June 2012

Lighthouse Stevensons

The Bell Rock Lighthouse, some 11 miles off Arbroath, looks impressive and a blog-follower advises us to watch the BBC episode on The Lighthouse Stevensons. He maintains it is both 'interesting and informative'. So these three 'i-adjectives' add up to a 'fabulous' programme.

Scottish  Islands Explorer - tries to have the 'three-i-adjective' approach

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Until Next Time

It was not to be yesterday for the proposed Islands Book Trust trip to The Pairc. The excursion was called off because of early, heavy sea-swell. A chance encounter with a local fisherman had prepared me for the journey up Loch Claidh, pictured here, with its fjord-like dimensions.

He felt that the place has an eeriness, but the 24 disappointed visitors will have to wait for a re-arranged visit in order to see the view from the head of the loch out into The Minch and to feel any sensations for themselves.

Scottish Islands Explorer - ready for real exploration

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Back in Time

Yesterday was when I was cut off by a technological failure caused by human weakness. Today I hope to be in an area - The Pairc, South Lochs, Lewis - which has always been cut off. Former settlements, and there were many of them, were always on the coast because the hinterland has never been developed. The Islands Book Trust has arranged an exploration up Loch Claidh, around to Baigh Reimsabhaigh and Bagh Ciarach before heading up Loch Seaforth to Ceannmore (above). These were places characterised by human endeavour and resilience.

Scottish Islands Explorer - travelling to ultimate destinations in the UK

Friday, 8 June 2012

Normal Service Resumed

Apologies for the delay in hoisting today's blog, but I have travelled over from Skye to Lewis and was affected this morning by a breakdown in communications cause by an attempted theft ... of underwater cables at Loch Carron (above). Telephones, broadband, cash machines and credit card transmissions were disrupted. The BBC report is here. I look forward to being back on time tomorrow.

Scottish Islands Explorer -  influenced by human as well as technological failure

Thursday, 7 June 2012

North West Connections

Marc Calhoun lives and works in the Pacific North West of the United States - in Seattle. He has long been fascinated by the North and West of the United Kingdom and is a frequent visitor to the outer islands. He and his wife are currently in the Western Isles and he will be launching his new book in Stornoway on Tuesday next - 12 June at 18.00. Details are in this Stornoway Gazette item. Do come along to the County Hotel if you are able - for Marc is a regular contributor to Scottish Islands Explorer and will be giving an interesting presentation.

Scottish Islands Explorer - also features on the North and West

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Northern Lights for You

The view from the Northern Lights Cafe and Art Gallery in Haroldswick, Unst, suggests that it's a place which attracts custom. If it attracts you, then you may wish to respond to its coming onto the property market in September 2012. The Shetland agents, Tait & Petersen, have it on their books and the details will appear on your screen. It couldn't be easier ... to see for yourself.

Scottish Islands Explorer - interested in property as well as places

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Canna Onward?

In the distance is Compass Hill, Canna. It is usually approached by the CalMac ferry from Mallaig on the Mainland, but the company is under pressure to restore its service to Lochboisdale on South Uist. The population on Canna has recently risen and there are moves, reported in the West Highland Free Press, to give tourists as well as residents greater flexibility in their travel options.

Scottish Islands Explorer - always wanting to go places

Monday, 4 June 2012

8000-Year Span

There is something of a paradox when an organisation, committed to studying the traces of human settlements from comparatively recent times to the ancient of days, launches a new website. The Orkney Archaeological Society , which endeavours to explore a local timeline of some 8000 years, has a new portal opened on 1 June. The Stones of Stennes, above, indicate how broad are their bands.

Scottish Islands Explorer - looks forward to revelations of the past

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Look Then Listen

At the end of a long road, at either end of the Uists, there will be a radio mast. From next Autumn they will be broadcasting programmes, 20% of which are scheduled to be in Gaelic, to the communities of Berneray, Baleshare, North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist and Eriskay. Details of An Reidio (The Radio) indicate that some 60 volunteers will be required.

Scottish Islands Explorer - looking forward to listening

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Summer Dangers

This image of the Summer Isles from Outer Loch Broom, taken by Fraser Ross, looks idyllic. However, a recent event on the islands pinpoints a problem. When the hours of daylight are extensive and the weather is hot, there is a danger of wildfires breaking out in exposed areas. When that happens on an island, there are very special needs required. Read about what happened on Tanera Mor.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aware of the need for action stations

Friday, 1 June 2012

He Could Be There Now

Rockall may not be large, but it is formidable. Nick Hancock hopes to be there this morning as part of his way of celebrating the Jubilee and raising both funds and awareness. The BBC Website carries today's story; the birds were probably carried away, momentarily, by fear when a human came onto their territory.

Scottish Islands Explorer - keeping a weather-eye on achievements