Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Two Trails to Trek

Two lighthouse destinations or starting points may soon feature in many more lives. Yesterday saw the launch of the preparations for the 470-mile Scottish National Trail from Kirk Yetholm in the Borders to Cape Wrath  in the Highlands. That ultimate lighthouse in the far north-west of the mainland is immediately above. On top is the Butt of Lewis Lighthouse that commences or ends the Outer Hebrides Way which is a route from the Butt to Barra, or to be more precise, to Vatersay in the south, 220 miles away. Peter Clarke's long-distance walk, the research on which was spread over many years, culminated in the publication of his book, The Timeless Way. Preparations are underway for his trek to become an official trail.

Scottish Islands Explorer - trials and trails exposed and explored

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

An Radio

This somewhat plain-looking building, the Nunton Steadings in Benbecula, will soon be known further afield and radiating sound. It is to become the headquarters of An Radio, broadcasting to the Uists and Benbecula. Details are given in the Stornoway Gazette.

Scottish Islands Explorer - another part of the media

Monday, 29 October 2012


On the right is the ruin at Bholsa and on the left is Mala Bholsa in the north-west of Islay. This photograph, taken on a sunny April day, serves as a reminder of British Summer Time that ended yesterday. It appeared on Saturday in that special feature of the Islay Blog that ends the week with a fine image. Yearn for the glorious Summer of '12 experienced on and off the West Coast of Scotland as we enter Greenwich Mean Time.

Scottish Islands Explorer - tries to make time stand still

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Cloud Over Uig

When ambulance-crews are called out, there must be degrees of uncertainty as to what they are about to find or experience. On Thursday evening, two members of a crew ended up in hospital themselves when, having travelled to a distant part of the Isle of Lewis, they found themselves dealing with a case of potential cyanide poisoning. The details are in the Stornoway Gazette. The image above is of a normal cloud over Uig, the location of the incident; the one below is of the tranquil beach scene there.

Scottish Islands Explorer - usually contains nothing toxic

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Second Sighting

The Chestnut-eared Bunting, last seen on Fair Isle some eight years ago, has returned to these shores and been noted in Shetland, at Pool of Virkie. This is the second-ever sighting in the UK and the third-ever in Europe. It is normally resident in the Far East, but then other creatures have been coming to the far north, whether a humpback whale or a pod of dolphins. Ornithologists will observe; birdwatchers will be interested; twitchers will have flocked. The full account is on Shetland News.

Scottish Islands Explorer - needs more than rare visitors.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Back in the Fold

It's been 55 years since sheep were last herded on Rum. Now they are back and the breed that has been chosen by the crofter who raises them is Soay, the most primitive of the domesticated varieties. The BBC carries the  story.

Scottish Islands Explorer - tries to herd more readers

Thursday, 25 October 2012

More Activity at Sea

Yesterday's account of a whale off Shetland is over-shadowed by the tales of a pod of dolphins that appeared off Ullapool and close to the Summer Isles on Saturday last. There were approximately 150 of them, arousing fears that many would become stranded. However, this was averted. The Stornoway Gazette account will put you in the picture.

Scottish Islands Explorer - would appreciate 150 sub-mariners as subscribers

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Humpback Heads Off

The photographs by Hugh Harrop of this humpback whale that surfaced and delighted many watchers off Hillswick, Shetland, capture the size and vigour of a creature measuring some 40 - 50' in length. See and learn more of this event that took place on Monday, through Shetland News.

Scottish Islands Explorer - articles of standard length

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

New Path to Old Port

Port Grigaspul does sound quite impressive, but has not seen action for many years. Its appearance on the 1858 OS map was the last time, perhaps, that people needed directions. However, plans are afoot to construct a path to the now virtually-invisible former-settlement on the Pairc side of Loch Seaforth. Across the Minch has the details and soon signposts may direct walkers into this part of the wilderness.

Scottish Islands Explorer - opening up old 'past-ways'

Monday, 22 October 2012

Wet Weekend?

If it's been a wet weekend or the prospects for the forthcoming week are looking dismal, then consider this image from an acclaimed blog of Machir Bay, Islay, and rejoice in the visual excitement of what's on offer. Even mundane matters like puddles on the beach have a glorious aspect when photographed by experts or with fine cameras ... or both.

Scottish Islands Explorer - tries to bring out the best in islands

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Connecting Orbs?

There is something of a connection between the iconic architecture of St Basil's Cathedral at the Kremlin in Moscow and

the design of the orb in the Harris Tweed brand icon. They are also brought together by this item on the marketing of the cloth in Russia that appears on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - seeing similarities

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Tale of a Bale

Carrying a bale of Harris Tweed along the beach is an arduous business unlike wearing it in a coastal location

or on a fashion catwalk

although this romantic history involving following a piece of cloth via YouTube is rather compelling, despite making everything seem so effortless.

Scottish Islands Explorer - effortlessly-produced? It's not quite that easy.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Take Note

This week's image in the Beautiful Islands section of the Stornoway Gazette speaks for itself. You can take a dog to water and make it think ... at least in the case of Molly at the Bend Pool, River Creed, Stornoway.

Scottish Islands Explorer - wanting readers who take note

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Power Ahoy

Windswept ledges, shoreline installations and deep-water facilities could be the sites of tidal and wave power features under schemes following the findings of The Carbon Trust. It claims that up to 11% of British energy requirements could come from areas, particularly those of the Rockall Trough, where the best wave potential is well off-shore.

Scottish Islands Explorer - powered from off-shore sources

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Jura Panorama

If you enjoy wide landscapes, then do go to The Armin Grewe Homepage, sit back and be transported to the Paps of Jura and then out to sea. These are panoramas that capture the essence of mountain ranges, without your having to leave the desk, chair or sofa.

Scottish Islands Explorer - experiencing without effort

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Ballot on Buyout

When the owner of Raasay Stores put her shop on the market earlier this year, there was a realisation that finding no buyer could jeopardise the island's future. So residents were asked to vote to see whether there was support for a community buyout. The results are to be found in this item from the West Highland Free Press.

Scottish Islands Explorer - not ready to be bought out

Monday, 15 October 2012

Empty Boxes

When this postman on Eigg collects from his boxes they are emptied. When internet-users on the Small Isles tick their broadband boxes, they too have been empty. However, assistance is on the way for the new technologies, as indicated by the BBC, while the traditional trade of mail-collecting will undoubtedly continue at the same speed.

Scottish Islands Explorer - continues on its eight-week cycle

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Full Archive Wanted

This atmospheric photograph of Hoy, taken by Craig Taylor, may not be quite what is needed by a group on the Orkney island wanting to fill its archive with images of the past. They have a collection of 500, but are short of material from the second half of the 20th Century. So, perhaps, the one below of the old Garrison Theatre

may be appreciated or the impressionistic image of a picnic on the beach at Rackwick may be added?

Scottish Islands Explorer - on the look-out  

Saturday, 13 October 2012

One in Five Thousand

Here is an old photograph of residents in the village on St Kilda. Whatever their actual ages, they certainly look elderly. Life-expectancy there was low for a variety of reasons. Today one person in every five thousand  living in Scotland is a centenarian. There are 830 of them and I wonder how many live on the islands. Our expectations have risen as ages have increased, with 43% more centenarians since the beginning of the decade. See the item in The Herald and look forward to going on that little bit longer whether by the sea-shore or in a city.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a vested interest in generations ahead

Friday, 12 October 2012

Bird's Eye View

This rainbow over the Gruinart Flats, Islay, was photographed from a hide on the RSPB Reserve at Loch Gruinart. You can always rely on the Islay Blog to feature places of interest, particularly on a Friday. The barnacle geese (below) are frequent visitors to the island and will soon fill an empty sky, such as the one above.

Scottish Islands Explorer - helps fill a void

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Mega Aurora

The Mirrie Dancers have led watchers of, and for, the Northern Lights a merry dance in the past, but last Monday the show was particularly active at 2.00 in the morning. Many fine photographs were secured, including this one by Ivan Hawick from South Nesting. It appears in Shetland News. Clicking onto his gallery will present more images, save an extensive journey and, perhaps, a long night.

Scottish Islands Explorer - waiting to meet the 'dancers' for the first time

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Frights Over Flights

Directflight Ltd operates services on behalf of the Shetland Council from Tingwall Airport to Fair Isle, Foula, Out Skerries and Papa Stour. The costs are being reviewed and regular flights to the last two could be discontinued. A Shetland News item gives the details. Certainly the demand for flights to and from Papa Stour must have declined as the population has fallen to single figures in the last year.

Scottish Islands Explorer - enjoys air mail services

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The Tractor Factor

When this tractor was taken to the remote, and now abandoned, settlement of Nostar on the west side of Loch Seaforth, North Harris, it obviously fulfilled a purpose for its owner, L R Kenny. The land must have been sufficiently worth cultivating. When the croft was suddenly left by its inhabitants, the tractor was left behind and remains there. Aspects of this story are covered in an Across the Minch item.

Scottish Islands Explorer - discards old technologies, too

Monday, 8 October 2012


There is something symbolic about this isolated residence on Canna, an island that attracts much publicity as its population declines. Recent Daily Telegraph and The Herald articles feature photographs of Graham Uney, a Scottish Islands Explorer columnist, and his wife, Olivia. Next week will see them having moved from one island group, the Small Isles, to another, Shetland.

Scottish Islands Explorer - steadily increasing in circulation

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Gallery Within

Whether you are looking up from the Hebrides through the lens of Peter Leeming (above) or out to Berneray through the work of Ruth Fairbrother (below)

or into an abandoned croft with Ian Paterson (below)

then the impact is 'elemental' - as is the title of this image below taken by Steve Gosling. The work of these four photographers plus that of Paul Harris will be on show at the Gallery Within at the Joe Cornish Galleries in Northallerton from Saturday 13 October.

Scottish Islands Explorer - proud to display these photographers

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Kiosk: Chaos to Calm

Neither residents nor visitors to Kilmuir, the Black Isle, used this public telephone box for three years. No objections were initially received when BT originally proposed taking it away. However, when the time came for removal, some local people moved in, occupied the spot, blockaded it with cars and were, subsequently, offered the box for £1 under the Adopt-a-Kiosk scheme. Literally a case of quid pro quo - 'this for that'. There must have been a time when the image below caused consternation among purists concerned with the preservation of landscape. Not any longer, for over the years the box has been elevated to icon status. Read a fuller account in The Scotsman.

Scottish Islands Explorer - each copy valued 375% higher than the telephone box

Friday, 5 October 2012

Looking at You

"Who are you looking at?" - would appear to sum up this exchange of glances between bird and beast captured by a photographer in Cyprus. It could well have been taken in North Uist recently when a rare cattle egret flew into the RSPB Reserve at Balranald. Read more in the Stornoway Gazette.

Scottish Islands Explorer - welcomes new watchers

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Back to Life

An enthusiast, Bobby Gear, has brought a fishing lodge to life again - by restoring it following virtually destruction during a storm in 1900. He was assisted by a grant for the roof by the Shetland Amenity Trust and fulfilled something of a family's dream. The BBC Website has covered the story.

Scottish Islands Explorer - for past ideas, present trends, future concepts

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Last of a Line

Bobby Hogg (left) has died, aged 92. He was the last of the Cromarty dialect speakers of the Scots language. He is pictured here talking with his late brother, Gordon, in a way that had been preserved among the fishermen of that part of the Black Isle. Full details are in The Herald.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aware of long-lasting legacies of langauage

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Looking Up ... Twice

Here's a chance to look up to the skies twice. The first is obviously from where you live; the second is to regard the Orkney skies. The latter can be achieved through Sky Notes - a column that has appeared in The Orcadian for ten years. Anyway you can start here twice - by looking at the above and below images.

Scottish Islands Explorer - readers have been looking up things for 13 years


Monday, 1 October 2012

A Residential Reflection

Residents of Canna have much to reflect about as their island fails to flourish, in the sense that newcomers tend to go rather than come. The Herald reports on a the latest arrivals who will, later this month, be settled ... in Shetland.

Scottish Islands Explorer - continues to attract new readers