Sunday, 30 September 2012

Salt Sea Setting

This photo could come from anywhere in the world, but it does have something slightly different. It is, in fact, of a church belonging to the Latter Day Saints - or Mormons as they are usually called. A suburb of Salt Lake City, perhaps? No - it's close to the edge of the natural harbour of Stornoway. One would have thought that this urban area, the largest in the Western Isles with a population of around 9000, has sufficient places of worship - some 15 or so - but in 1999 this American religious organisation 'came to town'.

Scottish Islands Explorer - needs missionary endeavours  

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Out Stack; Outsize

From a distance they look like skimming stones. However, the penultimate feature is the Muckle Flugga Lighthouse and the ultimate piece of land is Out Stack, the most northerly piece of the British Isles. Well beyond are ... the Arctic waters ... and just beyond was the the habitat of this record-breaking turbot recently caught by Robert McMillan, who happens to be a local fisheries enforcement officer. The full story of this big catch is in Shetland News

Scottish Islands Explorer - looking for record-breaking circulation

Friday, 28 September 2012

Paddling in Harmony

When two parties can paddle together - in this case, close to the Summer Isles - then there's hope for a suggested community buyout of Tanera Mor off the Coigach peninsula beyond Ullapool. There's more on the BBC Website about this and other projects on and off the West Coast.

Scottish Islands Explorer - not looking for a buyer, except in terms of copies

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Prices Going Back

A few years ago we would have been astonished to learn that in 2012 the prices of fuel would reach £139.9 and £143.9 per litre anywhere in Britain. Today we are amazed that a petrol station at Back, Isle of Lewis, has set its gauges below that of some petrol stations in British cities and supermarkets. That is what has happened, thanks to the selling techniques of Gordon Maclennan of Gordon Diesel. Will the road to Back, and beyond, be busier as a result? Read what Iain Maciver writes in his blog.

Scottish Islands Explorer - maintains a steady price in the face of increasing costs

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

iPod from Islay?

We are accustomed to ageing goods - like malt whisky - to come from Islay, but now innovative products are being made there. These include Storm-pods which are comfortable accommodation units at reasonable prices in ways that are customised to suit the needs of both owners and users. Ready for something neat from Lagavulin?

Scottish Islands Explorer - ready to sample anything  

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Halo Effect

Maybe the Buddhist monks who reside on Holy Island, off Arran, do not aspire to have the sort of halo that the cloud effects bestow upon their island through this image. Getting there is straightforward - by a regular ferry service - although there are people who prefer a more arduous method, courtesy of the 'Lamlash Splash'. The eleventh holding of this event took place in mid-September and The Arran Banner, the local newspaper with the deepest penetrating circulation in the UK, had a video camera and commentator in attendance. "Read All About It!" as paper-sellers used to shout in the streets or, perhaps, as it should be proclaimed now, "See for Yourself!"

Scottish Islands Explorer - enabling purchasers to see for themselves

Monday, 24 September 2012

Spin and Skim

Here is Easdale, a short ferry-crossing across the Firth of Lorn, an island that had a long tradition of quarrying, but has now hosted the World Stone Skimming Championships since 1997. Yesterday saw this notice in place

and the crowds gather to watch many competitors take part where once stones were hewn on a large scale.

The entrants had plenty of smaller, ideally-shaped stones from which to choose and then to give them

strong spin and surface skim to take them up to 64 metres across to the back wall. Excerpts of the preparations, and from the event itself, appear on the BBC Website and is a must-see for those who like to witness people taking pastimes and making passions. If I recall correctly the narrow channel from Seil to Easdale is less than the distance achieved by some of the stone-skimmers.

Scottish Islands Explorer - plenty of stories to spin

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Kilmuir Cow on File

A postman from Uig, Skye, was in nearby Kilmuir some two years ago when he spotted this cow and photographed it. The image he captured will be appearing in next year's BBC Country File Calendar. The details are to be found in the West Highland Free Press and serves as a reminder to consider diaries and calendars for 2013. There are exactly 100 days until it starts.

Scottish Islands Explorer - getting ready for 2013

Saturday, 22 September 2012

CalMac's Attraction

The CalMac ferry-ship, the Hebridean Isles, was journeying from Oban to Islay when it attracted the attention of a pod of dolphins. One of the passengers must have had his or her ipod ready for action and took a video that is reproduced here.

Scottish Islands Explorer - sails with and attracted by CalMac

Friday, 21 September 2012

Small Islands in Context

It's appropriate to mark the 500th item on this blog by referring to a piece on ten tiny British isles. Its section on Berneray, however, does not appear to have effective links and so above is an image of the remarkable beach on the west side of the island and below a visitor's photograph of the Gatliff hostel on the east side.

Scottish Islands Explorer - it will reach its 500th edition in 2081

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Taking the West-bound

Here is Queen's Beach, Gigha, with the Paps of Jura in the distance. The sun is setting and it's time to take the west-bound .... on 2 June 2012 when John Albiston took a time-lapse video that enables us all to be present at the event. Get on board to recapture something of that evening.

Scottish Islands Explorer - brings things to life

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Photo Hebrides

There is a gallery of images to enjoy at Photo Hebrides which displays the work of Donnie Mackay of the Isle of Skye. Above is of a house at Scarista, Harris, and below is the church at Howmore, South Uist. Enjoy the contrasting shades of colour and light.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a range of images to explore

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Sky to Skye

This is an aerial view of the airstrip at Broadford, Skye, which may have scheduled services if the forthcoming survey by the Highlands Council declares them to be viable. Below is the view from the airstrip to the range of mountains beyond. The links are growing with trains to Mallaig and the Kyle of Lochalsh; two ferries in operation; a bridge, a seaplane service from Glasgow and now, possibly, links to airports on potentially profitable routes.

Scottish Islands Explorer - looking for soaraway sales, too

Monday, 17 September 2012

Shades of Blue

Mingay, in Loch Dunvegan. Skye, is one of a chain of islands. The others are Clett and Isay. They are often set in shades of blue from the sea and sky. However, Mingay has an extra dimension for it is often referred to as the 'Bluebell Isle' owing to the profusion of these flowers on the island in the Spring. It is pictured here featuring a former lime kiln on its eastern shore. Ten years ago the island was for sale at £40,000.

Scottish Islands Explorer - not for sale, at present. Maybe in ten years time.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

To Go Over the Eight

These sheep on the Shetland Mainland can look over to Papa Stour where the current human population is now only four times their number. The ferry from West Burrafirth (below) operates daily, but with the opportunity of day-trips on only Fridays and Saturdays. Shetland News carries an informative and passionate plea for something to happen to boost numbers and restore an old, or create a new, pattern of life. Here is an island that could be either at the end of its tether or getting things together. There is land, houses, a road, an airstrip, terminal ports to serve it, an efficient ferry to reach it, a 'moth-balled' school, a church and centre of information, internet connections and a way of life waiting to be revived. Who can resist?

Scottish Islands Explorer - proposing an opportunity

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Uig Dig

You can understand why people of the Mesolithic times, over 6000 years ago, settled in Reef, Uig, North-west Lewis. Some of their materials have recently been excavated by archaeologists from the University of Durham. There is an Open Day at the site today.

Scottish Islands Explorer - uncovering the past and announcing the present

Friday, 14 September 2012

Commerce Is Back

This is the changing face of Stromness, Orkney. The Commercial Hotel will be re-opening shortly, as a modern office to serve the island's important entry port. The development of this part of the town continues and is a far cry from the days of the late 19th and early 21st Centuries when the same building was photographed.

Scottish Islands Explorer - considering a facelift

Thursday, 13 September 2012

From Two to Six

Two whooper swans at the Loch of Spiggie RSPB reserve in the south of Shetland Mainland have produced four cygnets. This stretch of water has seen prospective breeding activities since 1907, but this is the first successful family to appear. The full details are in a Shetland News item.

Scottish Islands Explorer - intends to stay single

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

If Only ...

If only government schemes had been available for the benefit of communities in the early 20th Century, then the St Kilda islanders could, perhaps, have remained and flourished. Crofting communities in the Western Isles, indeed throughout the Higlands & Islands, could grow again according to speakers at a recent conference organised in Lewis by the Islands Book Trust.

Scottish Islands Explorer - wanting to grow

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Fell 133 Feet Short

When Sir Hugh Munro classified the peaks of Scottish mountains, he chose 3000' as entry level. Goat Fell on Arran fell 133' short of that height. Would it have been that tad taller, think of the additional visitors Arran would have attracted over the years - the Munro-baggers, in particular. However, climbing to the summit does provide views of distant Ireland.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aims to be that little higher in circulation

Monday, 10 September 2012

A Celebration

There will be a photographic celebration called Hebridean at the Joe Cornish Galleries in Zetland Street, Northallerton. It is to be held between 13 October and 8 December 2012. If you can get to North Yorkshire it will save you journeying on to the Western Isles in order to savour the distinctive and remarkable images of a fascinating area.
Scottish Islands Explorer - Ruth Fairbrother and Peter Leeming feature

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Term of Trouble

The school term at Shetland's Skerries School was halted on Friday when a disagreement involving the head teacher and some pupils and parents led to the closure of the school. There are only six pupils at this all-age establishment, with three at primary level and three at secondary. They could have an island each, it would appear from the Out Skerries aerial view (above). Read about the educational matter in Shetland News.
Scottish Islands Explorer - aspires to have six members of staff

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Whale Watch

This Northern Bottlenose Whale is being watched by a listing boat, full of enthusiasts. The antics of the creature are being enjoyed. However, a similar whale is probably lost and confused  half-way up Loch Long. Full details are to be found on The Hebridean Whale & Dolphin Trust website and information is required to assist an animal in distress.

Scottish Islands Explorer -  ready to help

Friday, 7 September 2012

Team-work in the West

The West Harris Trust administers a large tract of land with some of the most compelling coastal scenery in the UK. The John Muir Trust has a long record of conservation activities. Now they will be working together in a variety of ways.

Scottish Islands Explorer - likes to see co-operation

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Pentland Road Centenary

For many visitors to the Western Isles, the Pentland Road from Stornoway to Carloway is the first taste of the natural scenery of Lewis. This stretch of the awesome and, at times, desolate was constructed in 1912 and next Saturday there will be Centenary Celebrations.

Scottish Islands Explorer - celebrating its centenary in 2100

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Sun Setting Scenes

The final reflections of the sun over Talisker Bay, Skye, serves as a reminder that we are over ten weeks off the midsummer phase of 2012. A gallery of sunset images from Skye serves as a reminder that some spectacular things happen on our hotizons daily.
Scottish Islands Explorer - perspectives above and below

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Side-School to Mainstream

Loch Hamnaway (above) is certainly remote, close to the west-side boundary of Lewis and Harris. However, it had residents and they had children who had to be educated. An account of the side-school there is available in the archives of the Uig Historical Society.

Scottish Islands Explorer - capturing recent history

Monday, 3 September 2012

Drive In; Drive Off

Here is the eighth hole on the Askernish Golf Course in South Uist. The Open Tournament there saw record numbers last week. A side-event, the Uist Shopping Experience, brought together 22 local suppliers to market their products. The 'score cards' of these two attractions appear in the Stornoway Gazette.

Scottish Islands Explorer - open to all

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Gold for Islay

Both staff and visitors at the Port Charlotte Youth Hostel in Islay have reasons to look pleased. The hostel has achieved gold star status for a number of its features. The details are outlined on the Islay Blog and they certainly encourage people to take advantage of the facilities of both the island and its hostel.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aspiring to a gold standard

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Westray Artistry

Some 5000 years ago there was, perhaps, a colony of artists in Westray, Orkney. Their legacy first came to light with excavations in 2009, again in 2010 and now, when a third figurine has been discovered. The details of this astonishing find - among the oldest works of art to have been brought to light in Britain - are on the BBC Website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - its Archive CD could come to light in 2512