Sunday, 31 March 2013

Easter's Hare

The Islay blog Easter photo is of a hare photographed at Ardnave in 2003. So here's the image of a creature being resurrected after a ten-year wait. I hope it had a lively existence.

Scottish Islands Explorer - ten years ago it had just introduced colour

Saturday, 30 March 2013

An Artist's Impression

The Bell Rock Lighthouse was designed and built by Robert Stevenson between 1807 and 1811. Eight years later Stevenson wanted to illustrate the cover of his Account of the Bell Rock Lighthouse and commissioned a watercolour by Turner. The artist never visited the lighthouse and based his work on drawings. It was subsequently engraved for the Account by John Horsburgh and published in 1824.

Scottish Islands Explorer - technically far advanced

Friday, 29 March 2013

Working Practices

The photograph - from The Guardian - says it all. Working practices change. A news item from the West Highland Free Press outlines how broadband speeds will be raised through much of the North-west coast and Western Isles during the next three-and-a-half-years. There was a time when the main broad-bands were roads

protected by walls, not firewalls. Perhaps the only vehicles that will need to travel them in the future will be vans to service the cables and to bring deliveries ordered over them?

Scottish Islands Explorer - constantly exploring changes

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Eagle Walk Wednesdays

Keep your Wednesdays free in order to participate in the Eagle Walks, a joint initiative between the RSPB and the North Harris Trust. There is a larger conglomeration of golden eagles in this area than anywhere else

in the UK and so you will have the bonus of incredible scenery as well as the chance of seeing these distinctive looking creatures

Scottish Islands Explorer - will be appearing next on a Thursday ... 18 April

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The Trip Tip

Trip Advisor has rated Orkney as the most attractive of the UK's islands for a visit. We can think of several reasons: from the North Ronaldsay Lighthouse, photographed here by the Devon-based, Paul Glendell; to the Northern Lights performing as the 'Mirrie Dancers' above Rousay; to the attractions of

food, such as that served at The Creel Restaurant With Rooms, St Margaret's Hope on the Orkney Mainland.

There are, of course, numerous places to see and savour throughout the group of islands.

Scottish Islands Explorer - tries to be a trip advisor, too

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Compact Living

Arran may be regarded as 'Scotland in miniature', but Great Cumbrae can claim one of the narrowest houses in the world. Wedge House is just 47" wide and more than just squeezes into the record books. Take a look at another nine houses which gain attention from the WebUrbanist for their thin appeal. If you want to continue along these lines and see how we can all, perhaps, thrive on less in everyday life, then go to LifeEdited for the 'Compact, Connected, Complete' outlook.

Scottish Islands Explorer - remains a constant size at 52 pages

Monday, 25 March 2013

Six Days to Summer Time

When you see the photograph (above) by Robert Strachan Photography or read the report of the sufferings and solidarity of Arran residents from The Scotsman, you could begin to wonder about the forthcoming start of British Summer Time on the last day of this month. The almost Antarctic look of Arran (below) shows the island between the Cumbraes. The photographer, SeaDave on Flickr, commented - 'It has to be shot in the morning, as it is a dark silhouette for the remainder of the day.'

Scottish Islands Explorer - circulates in all time-zones

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Creature Comforts

These puffins, from an image taken by Clearwater Paddling of Barra, must have their creature comforts, just as Richard Clubley had when on Mingulay. He found himself at the Schoolhouse, featured in Friday's blog, lit a fire (featured below) and was pleased to be able to use the coal supplied by the National Trust for Scotland.

When he left, he paid the boatman, Donald McLeod, to bring replacement stocks on his next visit. Not the origin of the Mingulay Boat Song, but good to know that fuel is at hand even in isolated hearths.

Scottish Islands Explorer - poor for lighting fires

Saturday, 23 March 2013

A Capital Attraction

There are few pleasures involving strolling around, looking up and then seeing much below. However from yesterday, one was easily available (and will be until 20 May) for the residents of, and visitors to, Edinburgh with the Royal Geographical Society's Britain from the Air Exhibition. It involves a number of Street Gallery sites in various central parts of the city. Two of the giant photographs are of the Scottish islands and the image above (or rather, below!) is of South Harris. The shot of St Kilda is a real stunner and it's worth visiting the Scottish capital just to see it.

Scottish Islands Explorer - worth looking up

Friday, 22 March 2013

Mingulay Opportunity

The Mingulay schoolhouse was abandoned over 100 years ago. Now there are plans to restore it fully for the use of researchers and conservationists on this island to the south of Barra and Vatersay. There is something compelling about the place and one hopes that application to work will be possible for those who want to concentrate on their studies, particularly with stunning beaches in the immediate vicinity!

Scottish Islands Explorer -  aware of the work / pleasure balance

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Look Up

The comet Pan-STARRS is causing heads and binoculars to be raised in Shetland as well as in other parts of the world. Worth finding out more from this source?

Scottish Islands Explorer - look us up as well

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Funds To Come

Three Western Isles projects have been awarded funding by the National Lottery. They are concerned with market gardening at Northbay, Barra; the Community Association at Breasclete, Lewis; facilities at the Eoropie Dunes Park, Ness, Lewis. Read more about them in a section from the Stornoway Gazette.

Scottish Islands Explorer - funded by sales and subscribers

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Current Affairs

The clouds and the currents appear to be turning in unison here at Stroma (from the Old Norse  Straumey - the Island in the Stream) off Caithness. Take a closer, moving look at the whirlpool, The Swilkie, which, according to tradition, derives from the Viking sea king, Mysing, continuing to operate a submerged millstone to produce salt for the sea.

Scottish Islands Explorer - produced on land from turning presses

Monday, 18 March 2013

Take a (Shopping) Trip

The lines of Coleridge from The Ancient Mariner - 'As idle as a painted ship / Upon a painted ocean' - come to mind with this photograph from Morag Duff's new book Land and Light. Her publisher, Blurb, invites you to a preview of 21 pages that can be accessed here. Do take the trip to see and learn about her experiences in this book that is sub-titled 'Island Connections' and, perhaps, purchase the publication directly. She focuses on Eriskay and South Uist and captures the essence of these Hebridean havens - or should that be 'heavens'?

Scottish Islands Explorer - relishes both land and light

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Fire and Light

There have been two significant events on Fair Isle. First, the South Lighthouse is now open for the public to climb the tower to gain extensive views. Then last Thursday, a new fire station was opened to deal with those emergencies of intensive heat.

Scottish Islands Explorer is always pleased to report on significant matters from this island - as it was founded here at the beginning of the month of January at the opening of the new decade in the year 2000.

Scottish Islands Explorer - tries to generate more light than heat

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Scenic Layering

This week's Friday Islay Picture, from the Islay Blog, features what could be termed 'scenic layering' - for here are strands of tidal currents, island profiles (with Colonsay in the foreground to the right and Mull behind) and then the strata of clouds and sky. It was taken from Sanaigmore Bay.

Scottish Islands Explorer - layering in the botanic sense, with propagation.

Friday, 15 March 2013

The Wonder of Wandering

It can be mainstream Europe or off-shore Scotland, the urge is what takes you there. The wonder of being able to wander with equipment suitable for the purpose is an aspiration for many. It can be realised through Kamper, a company that provides vehicles specially prepared for camping, backpacking and hostelling or parking outside grand hotels, if that is wanted. Here is the appealing combination of travelling light, with wheels, drawn by dreams.

Scottish Islands Explorer - partly driven by dreams

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Now for Wanderlust?

I was impressed by the way in which the set of 62 back issues of Scottish Islands Explorer, featured on yesterday's blog, sold within 45 minutes. If you have that passion for travel - or just like reading about it - you may well be interested in the magazine Wanderlust, established 20 years ago. I have the first one hundred issues (dating from Issue One of December 1993 / January 1994 until the Centenary Edition of December 2008 / January 2009) of the publication in fine condition. Any takers for this set, to be collected from a shop near you within the UK, at £95 including delivery? Here's how to make contact with me.

Scottish Islands Explorer - leads to wanderlust tendencies

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Back Number Bargain

The history of this magazine goes back to January 2000. Its current format of 52-pages of full colour has been existence for over ten full years. So anyone wishing to acquire the issues from that period is invited to purchase a set in fine condition - 62 copies from January / February 2003 until March / April 2013. The price, including being delivered by courier to any address within the UK, is £50. That works out at a fiver-a-year, with door-to-door service. It is now too late to apply to the Editor through the Contact Us section of Scottish Islands Explorer as someone was quick off the mark to secure this bargain at 7.45 this morning! Anyone else out there with sets of copies to sell? Then make contact with the Editor as suggested above.

Scottish Islands Explorer - currently £24.97 per year, so this was 80% off!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Eye-watering Eilean Aigas

Here's a house ... on an island ... in a river. It needs to be seen in context, perhaps through the website of one of the agents endeavouring to sell it for £15 million. Try Vladi Private Islands and you will be transported to Eilean Aigas, on the River Beauly some 15 miles from Inverness, and a property constructed over the six years leading to 2007. There are many features to absorb, including the 22 signature 20' stacked chimneys, and the  dimensions of the many rooms.

Scottish Islands Explorer - just 52 pages long

Monday, 11 March 2013

Moder-Dye Follows ...

Kev is an Outdoor Access Officer who lives in Scalloway, Shetland, and who runs the Moder-Dye Blog. His recent description of a trip to Papa Stour provides a good read and some compelling images such as the one above. The Moder-Dye reference is to a time-honoured way of navigation - from the Old Norse 'Mother Wave' and the undercurrents that apparently could be sensed moving towards the land. It was particularly useful in foggy weather and here appropriately follows ... Mother's Day.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aware of insular undercurrents

Sunday, 10 March 2013

A Million Off

Properties come and go on the market but sometimes the rarer ones wait, to be assessed for their attractiveness to contemporary buyers. According to the Evening Times, the island of Ailsa Craig, 245 acres in extent, two-miles wide and 1110' high, has seen an asking-price reduction of 40% from £2.5 to £1.5 million in the past year. It is a volcanic plug that is the source for curling stones. Full details can be found on the Knight Frank website. The notice below could be more inviting with, perhaps - 'Happy Landings - Buy Up'

Scottish Islands Explorer - copies, not title, for sale

Saturday, 9 March 2013

There's No Getting Away

CalMac will be installing broadband equipment on all their ferries to the Western Isles, partly in response to a petition by Barra Youth Council for this service.

So whether you are travelling from Ullapool (below) to Stornoway or on the other routes,

there will be connections to make sure that the internet keeps you in contact. There's no getting away from it!

Scottish Islands Explorer - knows that broadband has wide appeal

Friday, 8 March 2013

End of Sanda

Sanda is the ultimate Scottish island, at least in the south-west, with its location relatively close to Northern Island. It has been a stopping place for those sailing and, during the past two years, for those wanting to be ferried to stay and / or eat in acclaimed and luxuriously-appointed, newly-renovated premises. These opportunities have now ended with the island becoming a private place. Part of the story behind this change of status for the island is available in a Campbeltown Courier report.

Scottish Islands Explorer - its public access is both necessary and vital

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Sky, Sea and Shore

A new company has been set up to build the interpretive centre about St Kilda that is to be sited at Mangersta, Uig in Lewis. One of the factors in deciding on this setting was that it bore a resemblance

to the habitat and terrain of the St Kilda group of islands. These images of Mangersta focus on the sky, sea and shore of this remote settlement, some 41 miles by sea from Hirta and 30 miles by road from Stornoway.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a something of an interpretative centre in itself

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

You Name This Ship

Next year will see a new ship plying its way across The Minch on a 24-hour operation from Ullapool to Stornoway. Now is your chance to join in the process of naming the ship from a selected list that is featured in the Stornoway Gazette. For what it's worth, Scottish Islands Explorer goes for the MV Loch Seaforth which marks a geographical boundary between between Lewis and Harris. Take another glimpse through a window at Arnish, as photographed and displayed on Flickr by Ian Gilbert ... click on the link ... and decide.

Scottish Islands Explorer - tends to recommend places more than names

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Wave Explosion

Meteorites may have hit parts of Russia recently, but these waves exploding over some of the Earth's oldest rocks at the Butt of Lewis provide an awesome sight. Their power was captured by the camera of Ali Finlayson whose photograph appears in this week's Beautiful Islands section of the Stornoway Gazette.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aware of powerful forces when sea meets stone

Monday, 4 March 2013

A Change from Sheep

The walrus pictured above would never have come, even strayed, into British waters. It's far too south from its natural habitat. However, what is probably a young male, below, was spotted on North Ronaldsay by the Observatory's assistant bird warden Mark Warren. The Orkney island's shoreline is renowned for its seaweed-eating sheep and the sighting of this visitor from the Arctic Ocean is extremely rare. Read the BBC's report on the event.

Scottish Islands Explorer - not that rare in North Ronaldsay