Wednesday, 31 July 2013

FT for Footsteps

The settlement of Rhenigidale in North Harris had its road link to the rest of the island completed only in 1989. The Postman's Path (above) was the main significant overland route until then and continues to attract walkers keen to plant their footsteps on a unique track It climbs to a point affording fine views of Loch Trollamaraig. An account of the area that appeared four years ago in the Financial Times illustrates much of its appeal.

Scottish Islands Explorer - from one publication to another

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Great Crowd on Bernera

The Stornoway Gazette report of the 60th Anniversary of the Great Bernera Bridge observed that some 4,000 people had attended the opening ceremony in 1953 (below). Take the year and double it for the crowd number! It was a remarkable occasion for two reasons - one was that the innovative design of pre-stressed concrete was a European first; the other was that the support for building a link was so strong that a number of local people had started to construct an improvised causeway. This, of course, met with official disapproval which soon, however, turned to active, financial underpinning for a bridge.

Scottish Islands Explorer - always wanting to create links

Monday, 29 July 2013

Remoteness Recalled

This ruin is not all of what is left at Molinginsh on Loch Trollamarig, Harris, but it represents an archetypal image of decay. These often reflect sea-shore settlements which have had no reason to be connected with road systems. It comes from the BBC Island Blogging website that is well worth a read. Places long gone, but people not completely forgotten feature here.

Scottish Islands Explorer - endeavours to record something of the forgotten

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Tidal Treks

A reader sent in the above photograph of Vallay, North Uist, and said that she had been distracted by the sight of the island. The one man and his dogs (below) were obviously attracted by it and took advantage of the state of the tide. For a full description of the walk, and what you will find, go to walkhighlands and enjoy the informative and image-filled trip.

Scottish Islands Explorer - promotes walks without work

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Howmore, How Much?

The Gatliff Hostel at Howmore in South Uist requires renovations and an appeal has been launched. It's for £47,000 and the money will help the organisation continue its work in attracting people, especially the young, to the Western Isles. The hostel opened here in 1965 and, like all buildings in this historic village on the machair shore, it has to withstand constant weathering. The Gatliff Hebridean Hostels Trust is responsible for three hostels - the others are at Berneray, North Uist, and Rhenigidale, North Harris.

Scottish Islands Explorer - weathers the years as well

Friday, 26 July 2013

Language Base

There will be much research and input into the new Scottish Gaelic Dictionary which is to be funded by the Scottish Government and others. The time-span for the project is some 30 years. Gaelic has according to the 2001 Census 58,652 speakers (1.2% of the Scottish population), a decline of 7,300 from 1991. The ancient language has underpinned the cultural life of the Western Isles and this dictionary will provide an authoritative resource that will be at hand and, undoubtedly, online.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a resource of sorts

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Foula Wool

For something different and almost 'out of this world' - consider the products of Foula Wool. Behind it are Magnus and Justyna, interviewed at KnitBritish, and they will supply you from the most remote of Britain's permanently-settled islands. So do, at least, look at what comes from these sheep which are looking at you!

Scottish Islands Explorer - going straight to those who deal directly

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Cold Spring Decline

Jane Barlow's photograph of this gannet, with the Bass Rock, gives an appropriate signal - for the bird is on its own. The cold spring-weather of 2013 has taken its toll of a range of Scottish sea-birds and the decline could have far-reaching effects. The hot summer conditions cannot compensate for major changes in the annual breeding cycle. Discover more through the BBC Website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - saved by high print-runs

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Rocky Rescued

Here is a story about the saving of a dog by a sheep on Skye. It's from the West Highland Free Press and is well worth reading - for it is about human resolve and canine endurance as well as those two features of enduring appeal, a stroke of good fortune and a happy ending. Don't miss it.

Scottish Islands Explorer - spots a successful story

Monday, 22 July 2013

Consider Corryvreckan

There's an interesting final part of the season for Yacht Corryvreckan involving castles, forts, autumn colours, roaring stags and soaring eagles. Find out more about what's on offer by clicking on.

Scottish Islands Explorer - plenty to attract as well

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Dig Diary - Day Three

The excavations at the Ness of Brodgar are continuing. Last week saw Day Three and some interesting discoveries. Among them was the unearthing of a stone with an incomplete spiral marking. This is probably the creation of a Neolithic (New Stone Age) artist and fits into the range of work found on other Orkney sites. The full details are to be found in the Dig Diary.

Scottish Islands Explorer - delves for items; occasionally unearths stories

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Glenelg Turnaround

The summer-only Glenelg - Skye Turntable Ferry has been running as a community operation for six years and as a vehicle crossing for almost 80 years. The MV Glenachulish has plied this route for 45 years and celebrations will take place on 8 August when the Chicago Stock Yard Kilty Band will be present. Read more at the BBC Website and muse on how a vessel that moves backwards and forwards across a short stretch of water should be at Glenelg, the longest place-name palindrome in the UK.

Scottish Islands Explorer - changes its word order regularly

Friday, 19 July 2013


Tribute bands are a part of the music scene, but here's a tribute festival. The remote settlement of Gluss in the north of Mainland Shetland will be hosting a two-day event (20 / 21 July) featuring 28 bands and artists. It's close to Ollaberry and is part of the promotion work of Northmavine Community Development Company. When the crowds arrive for the Glusstonberry Festival they will not feel that cut off - for temporary broadband communications are being set up. Shetland News carries the story.

Scottish Islands Explorer - also a case of bands and fans linked by broadband

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Columba 1400

It looks good and obviously does a good job. I came across Columba 1400 when travelling on a bus in north Skye and asking a fellow-passenger where I could get a bowl of nourishing soup. Within seconds I was off the vehicle and in Staffin, walking towards this centre that offers much - for the hungry traveller, the curious enquirer and the young person needing a boost in confidence or a change of lifestyle. An hour later I was back on a bus and heading towards the Outer Hebrides. Some people stayed and would have journeyed successfully on new personal routes.

Scottish Islands Explorer - encourages journeys along new routes

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Prehistory Live

There seem to be many people per square foot of archaeological dig at the Ness of Brodgar, Orkney. The Orcadian uncovers the story which brings together a team from a university in the United States, another from Channel Four and, in time, a camera crew from BBC Two. There's a wide span of time to be unearthed, research to be carried out and television slots to be filled.

Scottish Islands Explorer - take time out, by reading it

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Underground Options

This house on South Ascrib, in Loch Snizort, Skye, looks prominent, especially on an 74-acre island that rises to 135'. In the past there was a monk in residence in the vicinity, but he chose an underground cell. In the 1990s, the owner, Baron Palumbo, made application for an underground house, but although this was granted, it was not fulfilled. Above ground some 600 seals live on or around and make up 1% of the European total.

Scottish Islands Explorer - emerges once every two months

Monday, 15 July 2013

Monday Speculation

How much is a view worth? The BBC's Website has presented a series of coastal views, including island ones, together with a series of prices. Take a look and speculate, albeit mentally, on values. The three Cantick House Lighthouse cottages at Longhope, Isle of Hoy & Walls, Orkney (above) are on the market and could be yours for £350,00. Tempted, in reality?

Scottish Islands Explorer - aware of both prices and values

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Artists in Poet's Garden

Garyvard - or the Poet's Garden - is situated in the South Lochs of the Isle of Lewis. It was the small port that served the area before its road system was transformed. Now three buildings have created a very special environment there, thanks to the inspiration of Duane Mead, the Director of the Rendezvous Gallery in Aberdeen. First came the renovation of a house - Tigh Alasdair Ruariadh - providing accommodation for artists; then in the garden a workshop for them (pictured below); and now the Garyvard Gallery (above) which is the subject of a preview video in the Stornoway Gazette.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a gallery from a miniaturised workshop on a laptop

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Wide Angles

Ruby Lindsay  is Shetland's oldest resident and an account of her life and times in Shetland News has insights and lessons for longevity - for she celebrated her 105th birthday on 10 July. She and her late husband, Frank, took Lunna House, Vidlin, from being a wreck in 1964 to a thriving place by the time she retired in 1997. Her hospitality and catering, particularly her High and Cream Teas, brought visitors from far and wide. The establishment continues and a look at the Lunna House website takes you to a camera with up-to-the-minute, wide-angled images of its surroundings.  

Scottish Islands Explorer - ready  to take the wider view

Friday, 12 July 2013

Three-Generation Benefit

This week's Stornoway Gazette contains an interesting item on Theresia Bolz (62), from Nurnberg in Germany. Now that her three sons have left home, she does not want to be an 'empty nester' but to become an au pair with responsibilities for children, preferably in the Isle of Lewis, where she has enjoyed holidaying. Her husband will retire in a year's time and she would be available from the beginning of October for six or nine months. This is certainly an opportunity for a number of parties, from three generations, to benefit.

Scottish Islands Explorer - acclaims innovative thinking and planning

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Islay in Perspective

The recent Islay Blog image is of Imke, the sister of photographer, Armin Grewe. standing close to the cliffs at Bagh an Da Dhoruis in the north of the island. She is quite tall as a person, but dwarfed on this occasion. However, to put matters into perspective, here is a YouTube clip of a flight over Machir Bay from a DJI Phantom Quadcopter, where Islay is dominated by the device. Armin Grewe has captured (below) six walkers at rest, rewarded by their view of Machir Bay after individual human efforts to get high above the coast.

Scottish Islands Explorer - tries to rise to the occasion

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Going Forth

The Scottish Seabird Centre, in North Berwick, indicates that in the Bass Rock area of the Firth of Forth a family of bottlenose dolphins (above) has discovered a warm-water spot. They have probably come from the Moray Firth area, to the north, where around 130 of them have been counted. Perhaps, a mother has brought her calves to 'holiday' in these waters closer to the capital, while the dolphin below encouraged her young to show a spirited response while remaining nearer Inverness and points east.

Scottish Islands Explorer - likes to see island waters teeming with activity

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Hamnavay in 20 minutes

It's now ten days since the Islands Book Trust trip to Hamnavay and Ardveg, to the south of Uig, Isle of Lewis. Marc Calhoun, now back in Seattle, has put together an account and images of the outing to way out settlements. The Lodge (above) looks lost in the landscape, while the old house at Ardveg (below) was the destination for the visitors.

However, in the same village a new house was built in 1934 and it was a special destination for Ina Macdonald (below in the black coat) - for she was born there. Although it is an arduous walk from Hamnavay, she recalled the routes (there is no well-used track now) because after she left school as a pupil she became, for a brief time, the side-school teacher at the Lodge. When asked how long her walk to work took her, she replied - "Well, actually I ran all the way ... in 20 minutes."

Scottish Islands Explorer - relishes the thought of running

Monday, 8 July 2013


Here's an archetypal image of a Hebridean seashore residence. I was under the impression that it is a view of  Seaforth Cottage, Rhenigidale, Harris with The Pairc to the right and the fjord-like features of Loch Seaforth ahead, but have been informed that it is not. Can anyone supply me with its whereabouts, please?

Scottish Islands Explorer - always trying to find somewhere

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Spotlight on Seaweed

There comes a time and place for all things and the spotlight is becoming focussed on seaweed for a variety of products. There are the Three Fs - food, fertiliser and fuel - and then the all-important medical and cosmetics components. Research has been conducted on aspects of harvesting and its findings are reported in an item from the BBC website. It is based on the Outer Hebrides while the two images shown are of Birsay - above by Five Senses Orkney - and below from the gallery of Living Art.

Scottish Islands Explorer - relishes seaweed as a dish

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Hazard from Nowhere

An incident in Shetland yesterday draws attention to the power of words. George Mainland has been operating tours to Bressay and Noss from Lerwick for over 25 years. On Friday 5 July at 13.30 his 36' aluminium tour boat, Alluvion, ran aground on a submerged rock known as Score Head on the north coast of Bressay. The account in Shetland News supplies the full details of how the local lifeboat made one of its shorter rescue missions. Skippers of the Alluvion have negotiated this stretch of water scores of times and the rock itself appears on charts.

Here the meaning of the word 'Alluvion' has a certain irony. It is a legal term referring to the increase in an area of land, usually through the deposit of alluvium or river silt. This changes the size of land, known as 'accession', and usually its value, providing a case of 'nowhere' becoming 'now here'. For a full gallery of images from the same source as the one above, take a tour with an Album from University College London.

Scottish Islands Explorer - tries to negotiate the many hazards of publishing

Friday, 5 July 2013

Bright Clouds at Night

Rousay resident, John Vetterlein, has presented this image of the clouds at night over his island in Orkney. Nocticulent Clouds are visible only in the period straddling Midsummer and a full account of this phenomenon is given in the fascinating Northern Skies. Be transported to the north and then above it.

Scottish Islands Explorer - covers sea, land and cloud features

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Unsure, Off-shore

When the Tobermory lifeboat was called out, a member of the crew understandably had her camera at hand. Sam Jones, the owner of Islandscape Photography, took this shot of a military target that was both loose and lost at sea. Other objects found at the same time, and quite recently, are the subject of an item on the BBC's website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - tries to avoid losing copy

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Summer Residences

The school-holidays are starting and some pupils are wondering what to do. On the moors of Lewis and Harris there is evidence that young people in earlier times were actively engaged in summer employment, looking after cattle on high ground. Their shelter would have been beehive-shaped dwellings, some of which survive to this day. The North Harris Trust is responsible for many square miles of land with few occupants, but on their website  they record the lifestyles of past times when summer jobs were plentiful as well as unpaid.

Scottish Islands Explorer - pleased to have moved on

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Worth a Visit

The Ravenspoint Centre is a hub for a series of concerns - a local shop, a cafe with fabulous views, a hostel with many nearby places to visit, an exhibition centre, a soon-to-be-opened petrol station, the Angus Macleod and Derek Cooper Archives, the offices for the Islands Book Trust and for Scottish Islands Explorer. Its website has been updated recently and so please refresh your acquaintance here.

Scottish Islands Explorer - proud to have its back office here

Monday, 1 July 2013

So Near, So Far

On Friday last I was travelling from Tarbert, Harris, out to see a friend at Hushinish. On the way I came across the former Cliasmol Primary School, permanently closed in 2008. It still looks in a good state of repair. On Saturday I journeyed out to Ardveg, Lewis, and visited the house featured in yesterday's blog. That are comparatively close by sea, but an almighty distance apart by road. This is an indication of how sea routes became replaced by the road system, affecting coastal settlements throughout the islands. Centres of population became outlying and deserted. For some insights and images into Cliasmol go to Neil Tasker's blog.

Scottish Islands Explorer - features worlds apart