Saturday, 30 November 2013

Party to Particles

A party of pupils from Shetland will be travelling to Switzerland to observe the workings of the Particle Collider. Funds to assist their trip are being raised, but information and awareness will be the purpose of a free public lecture to be given this evening by Dr Pauline Gagnon in Lerwick.

Scottish Islands Explorer - produced with many parts

Friday, 29 November 2013

Lonely and Unknown

Several lonely islands are very well-known and often visited - St Kilda, for instance. Some are, for obvious reasons, infrequently visited - like North Rona. Some are regularly, though not frequently, visited - Sula Sgeir, for example. Eilean nan Ron, featured here earlier in the week, is both relatively unknown and unvisited. The Lonely Islands website does, however, have some compelling images of the place and its derelict houses and it is well worth a visit. That is the website - for the island, off the north coast of Sutherland, is somewhat inaccessible at this time of year!

Scottish Islands Explorer - not remote and relatively known

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Weather Eye

If you are interested in the conditions on the Isle of Lewis, then a visit to Hebrides Weather is a must. The forecasting is centred on a station on the Eye Peninsula. The image above makes being transported there a delight; the one below suggests that transportation can have its drawbacks.

Scottish Islands Explorer - prepared to forecast

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

The Last Evacuation

The last of the Scottish islands to be evacuated was Eilean nan Roan, a 'mainland' island off the north coast of Sutherland, close to Skerry. Nine residents left 75 years ago and since 1938 it has been home to no one, at least during the winter months. The decline came quickly - for in 1881 there were 73 inhabitants, but the number had declined to 30 in 1931.So the population halved in 50 years and then diminished by two-thirds in the next eight. From certain angles, such as the camera position above, it looks like two islands joined.

Scottish Islands Explorer - readership is climbing steadily

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Hooked on Books

These rocks at Elgol, Skye, have the look of books leaning on a shelf. They may have inspired The PhotoHebrides Book Collection by Donnie Mackay. Open them up ... the website volumes, that is.

Scottish Islands Explorer - always contains a book feature

Monday, 25 November 2013

Bird, House, Following

You may recall the item on the pursuit of the Cape May Warbler which arrived unexpectedly on Unst, the most northerly of the Shetland Isles.  The full story and its background are on the Finders Report together with some images

in and around a ruined house at Hillside, Baltasound. Also covered are the parked planes which assisted some of the enthusiasts in pursuit of their sightings. It's surprising how a small flying creature can attract a number of chartered aircraft, pictured here at Unst airport.

Scottish Islands Explorer - Oh! for the wings of a dove

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Edging Closer

The residents of The Pairc are gradually edging towards a community buy-out with a decisive vote taken at a meeting last week. The sum involved is £500,000 and the process relatively simpler. Read more at Hebrides News. The image here is of Lemreway, on the coastal edge of the land involved in the prospective purchase.

Scottish Islands Explorer - open to comparable offers!

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Current Affairs

Scottish Islands Explorer has an interest in that stretch of water between Sumburgh Head (above) and North Ronaldsay (below) - for it was established here, on Fair Isle, in the year 2000. The magazine deals, to a certain extent with current affairs, but the Brahan Project is concerned with this matter in the literal sense. Find out more about what has recently been monitored and is available to all through its website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has moved away, but maintains interests

Friday, 22 November 2013

Tying the Knot

The venue - Modesty, West Burrafirth, Shetland - and the occasion - a registrar conducting her final wedding ceremony that had a Hindu element. Confused? Then go to this Shetland News item for full clarification.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aware of changing traditions

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Land Gifted

St Kilda comes a little closer or, rather its interpretive centre does, with the gift of a piece of land at Mangersta, Uig, Isle of Lewis. The BBC item carries some details of how this part of the island may become much more visited. Its remoteness in some ways replicates a feature of the island itself. The donation itself is a case of a giveaway by Hamnavay!

Scottish Islands Explorer - copies will be offered to the Centre

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Where Shadows Dance

If you like the photograph (above) of Northton Sands, South Harris, by Ruth Fairbrother, you will certainly enjoy the exhibition (below) that she is promoting jointly with Peter Leeming at Danby, near Whitby. It is to be held on the forthcoming weekend which straddles November and December.

Scottish Islands Explorer - likes shadows dancing on islands

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Fair or Foula

The landing of aircraft on Fair Isle, Foula and all remote islands requires special skills, especially at this time of year when weather can be treacherous. Take a trip onto the airstrip at Foula (above) through a you tube clip posted on 4 November 2013. You almost appear to be in control.

Scottish Islands Explorer - editors share some sensations with pilots

Monday, 18 November 2013

Right Royal

Ready, and sufficiently rich, for a move to Eilean Righ, a royal island? Knight Frank has the details, including information about its helicopter pad and flight time of 25 minutes from Glasgow Airport. Get away! However, first consult the Wikipedia entry recommended this morning by readers, David & Margaret Gartside.

Scottish Islands Explorer - pleased to cover this island

Sunday, 17 November 2013


The numbers from the 2011 Census reveal how the prevalence of Gaelic in its heartlands is contracting. Take a look at a BBC website item and take in the figures for key parishes in the Outer Hebrides. Then turn on BBC Alba to enjoy the sound of the language, even if your understanding of it is limited.

Scottish Islands Explorer - in an ideal world, a bilingual edition

Saturday, 16 November 2013


Fonn is Gaelic for 'Melody' and is the title of a book from the publishing house, Achair, about a remarkable family with musical talent. This is the Campbells of Greepe, a small settlement on Skye, near Dunvegan. The West Highland Free Press has a full account of the family and its many members who share similar gifts.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aware of gifted people on islands

Friday, 15 November 2013

Pairc Sale?

There could be a significant change imminent with the Pairc Community - South Lochs, Isle of Lewis - being sold the land on which its residents live. Read this BBC item on some of the decisions which will be made next week.

Scottish Islands Explorer - compulsory purchase or sale at a price?

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Female Goes Short

It looks different to have a female pilot on a Loganair flight, but Rebecca Simpson is training for the Orkney Islands Outer Service and looks forward to undertaking the world's shortest schedule flight between the two islands below. Read all about it in The Orcadian.

Scottish Islands Explorer - wishes Rebecca well

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Seventy-five Years On

It is 75 years since Frank Fraser Darling, with his wife and son, stayed on North Rona to study the island, in general, and its seals, in particular. You can take a look at aspects of their work through a BBC clip. Alternatively study the close-up of the 'rough island' (above) or the distant view of it from Sula Sgeir (below).

Scottish Islands Explorer - covers this most remote of the UK's islands

Tuesday, 12 November 2013


The time was 03.45 on Sunday last and The Orcadian correspondent was up, ahead of his alarm clock, to survey the skies. During mid-November, there will be not one, but three comets, including Comet Lovejoy (below), visible above Orkney. Read the account, Northern Skies, and then when the time comes either get up and look up ... or sleep on.

Scottish Islands Explorer - tends to be up early, but not always at that hour

Monday, 11 November 2013

Squids In

A BBC item reports on the first consignment of squid being sent from the Western Isles, in general, and Barra, in particular, to Paris. They emerge from restaurant kitchens to grace tables and may signal the start of a trend.

Scottish Islands Explorer - would like to be part of a trend

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Against the Tide

A Toothed Rock Crab was caught off Muckle Flugga last week, having wandered far from its native habitat of the West African coast, in the Mediterranean or around the Azores and Canary Islands. The account in Shetland News gives further details of a creature going somewhat against the tide ... at least in terms of human holiday movements.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aware of the contrarian

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Business Intent

Here is an ultimate invitation which will possibly, in time, come from the West Harris Trust. Rent a business unit at Horgabost. Can you imagine how business and pleasure would be combined by going to work at this location? Go so far now by reading about the proposal and seeing an artist's impression at the BBC - and that does not stand for Brilliant Business Concept!

Scottish Islands Explorer - ready to re-locate

Friday, 8 November 2013


The excavations at Udal, North Uist, yielded a timeline of occupation from the Neolithic to the contemporary era and will be kept as well as displayed in the Western Isles, according to this BBC item.

Scottish Islands Explorer - already laid down for posterity.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Under a Tenner

"Go on, give us a break," as they say. The annual subscription for Scottish Islands Explorer print edition is £24.97 and it has remained at that for over two years. However, the digital issue is now fully-launched and although individual copies are £1.99, you can secure an annual subscription for £9.99 - 'Under a Tenner'. We are keen to test the market for this product and so, do please forward this item to your friends. Tablets and iPads are shipping fast and people need to have their screens filled ... with something attractive. If you or they want a 'test-drive' then click onto the same website as above and download the free issue, featured below.

Scottish Islands Explorer - the future is print ... and modern technology

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Counting Sheep

Aspects of animal arithmetic feature in a Stornoway Gazette item which indicates that sheep numbers have dipped; cattle herds have declined; pigs have risen. Ten years ago there were 100,000 more sheep in the Western Isles, averaging ten per resident. However, some say the quality has increased and certainly prices are up.

Scottish Islands Explorer - also concerned with circulation figures

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Past Postcards

Take a look at this view of Ardbeg School, Islay, and then go to a gallery of postcard photographs from the 1900s that puts architectural and historical matters into visual context.

Scottish Islands Explorer - wonders how it will look in years to come

Monday, 4 November 2013

Townscape Signs

Stromness, the second largest of Orkney's urban areas, has its Townscape Heritage Initiative. During the winter months the signs to its many streets, lanes and closes will be receiving treatment - painting or replacement. There has been an evolving of these place-names since the mid-19th Century, but the formal recognition of them has declined as the signs have weathered and become dilapidated. That's about to change with this initiative and re-aligning of an element of 'townscape'. Read more in The Orcadian.

Scottish Islands Explorer - more on landscape, seascape ... and escape

Sunday, 3 November 2013

A Great Entry

There are few CalMac terminals close to such an iconic feature as Kisimul Castle at Castlebay, Barra. Renovating and archaeological work is about to be undertaken and the full details are available on a BBC item.

Scottish Islands Explorer - always re-designing and digging

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Getting Ready To Go

From Tuesday 12 November, through much of the winter months, there will be a revived CalMac service in place. A three-year pilot is being run to judge demand for the Mallaig - Lochboisdale route. Consider the CalMac timetable and the positive news item from the Stornoway Gazette about coach links to and from Fort William. This is potentially a great way for foot passengers to get from the south to South Uist - with a relatively short walk from Glasgow Central to Queen Street or a walk around Buchanan Street Coach Station / direct access to and from the rail station and the bus stance at Fort William / the proximity of train, bus and ship terminals at Mallaig. Then the crossing in relatively sheltered waters on the designated ship, the MV Lord of the Isles,  passing the Small Isles en route. Get looking ... and booking!

Scottish Islands Explorer - promoting journeys with a difference

Friday, 1 November 2013

Shetland Food Fair

The Clickimin Centre, Lerwick, is the venue for the Shetland Food Fair from 15 - 17 November when members of the Shetland Food Producers Group will be holding their second annual event. 15 stalls with a variety of products and a cafe will be providing delicious fare alongside the Craft Fair where seasonal goods, also from local suppliers, will be on sale.

Scottish Islands Explorer - also a useful supplier of presents