Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Isle Take It!

Tanera Mor, the largest of the Summer Isles, failed to sell last year and has now re-appeared in the property market at a reduced price of £1.95 million. A comprehensive and fully-illustrated account of its position and attractions appears in the website of Mail Online. If you are interested in buying or merely browsing, just click and go. Your virtual visit will not be disappointing.

Scottish Islands Explorer - on sale, in the island shop

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Shetland Soaring

According to recent research, house prices in Shetland have doubled during the last decade. Some details and analysis are to be found in this Shetland News item. Compare and contrast a house on offer - at Liradale, Walls - through Tait & Petersen, with what is available in your area. The Scandinavian-style construction enjoys views over the island of Linga. Another view from a different angle towards the same isle is presented below, featuring two properties that are not, as yet, available.  

Scottish Islands Explorer - likes viewing islands and their housing stock

Monday, 28 April 2014

Remote Boat Building

For those who like to uncover remarkable features in remote places, the Islands Book Trust walk on Saturday 3 May has a compelling appeal. The destination is Cuiriseal, beyond Lemreway, Lewis, where a tradition of boat-building will be revealed. The details of arrangements appear on the Islands Book Trust site and an outline of what is on offer makes good reading in a Stornoway Gazette item. Here is a place that will probably be receiving more visitors in one day than over several years!

Scottish Islands Explorer - will be covering this excursion

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Almond Off Rocks

This eight-week-old otter now at the Scottish SPCA's National Wildlife's Rescue Centre at Fishcross, Clackmannanshire, was found wandering on a croft in Luskentyre, South Harris. She has been named Almond and an account of what is planned for her appears in the Stornoway Gazette. 

Scottish Islands Explorer - also appreciates a good home

Saturday, 26 April 2014


The image of this rider on Newark Beach, Deerness, could be appearing in more places within a year. An appeal for a fundraising calendar for 2015 has been issued in this Orkney parish and local photographs are wanted. Read about it in The Orcadian and consider whether you have been in camera action in the vicinity.

Scottish Islands Explorer - looks forward to seeing the selection

Friday, 25 April 2014

Five Hundred to Three

The old saying about big fish in a small pond applies to the staff and pupils at Foula Primary School. However, the current roll of three children on the island of 32 residents will be welcoming a new permanent headteacher, Shetland-born Jayne Smith. She is featured in a Shetland News item where reference is made to her leaving a position at Cults Primary School, Aberdeen, which educates 500 pupils. Certainly its from a large pool to a small pond.

Scottish Islands Explorer - always looking for increased circulation

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Millport Memories

Here is Millport, Great Cumbrae, in picture postcard format from 1904. It was a popular place for trips by Clyde steamers and its heyday as a destination resort was probably in the 1920s & '30s. Film footage of these days has been secured by Video History Scotland and presented in their Memories of Millport.

The appeal of the place can be seen in these recent panoramic views of the town and from the bay. However, to capture the the excitement experienced by throngs of people you have to be transported to a past era, not by boat, but by video history.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aware of excitement past and present

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Destination and Inspiration

The Gatliff Hostel on Berneray provides a place of destination on an island of inspiration. May I suggest that you make a cup of tea (at home or work, if you are not at the hostel), sit in front of this screen, click the button here and settle down for just under ten minutes to see, hear and experience something of this accessible and stimulating accommodation in its setting of an idyllic environment. The YouTube creation of Julian Paren will transport you from the building ...

... to the beach ... and beyond.

Scottish Islands Explorer - take the 'tube' and start your journey

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Protrusion, Explosion

The Scotsman has a full account of this mine that has just been dealt with by a Royal Navy bomb disposal unit in a controlled explosion on the island of Eigg. It was thought to have been a buoy and was used by children and animals as a plaything, until recent storms and sand movements revealed something sinister. The composition of Eigg itself, with its protruding volcanic core, makes the wartime mine appear to be a microcosm of the island's geological past.

Scottish Islands Explorer - elements can spark interest years later

Monday, 21 April 2014

No Trace of Ourmark

The Maryfield House Hotel, Bressay, Shetland, was run by David and Linda Woods for 26 years until last August. Then they leased the hotel to a Canadian couple,

Patrick and Morgan Blanch (above), on a three year arrangement, including an obligation to purchase. Local residents were soon aware of changes - for example, the hotel never opened at lunchtime.

Now Mr  & Mrs Blanch have disappeared - they were last seen two weeks ago, on Monday 7 April - leaving behind a trail of debt. Their company, Ourmark Ltd, was registered in East London, so far from the waters of Bressay. The details are to be found in a Shetland News item.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has been traced for over 100 issues

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Derek Cooper

The former BBC presenter, Derek Cooper, who founded The Food Programme, has died aged 88. This BBC item recalls his life, times and contains a clip of one of his programmes. An archive of his writing is be found in the Islands Book Trust Collection at the Ravenspoint Centre, Kershader, Isle of Lewis

Scottish Islands Explorer - a life recalled with gratitude

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Easter Exercise

Easter is late this year and so many have ventured out to enjoy Spring weather and stunning views. This is particularly true of Islay, featured here with two images from its Photoblog. Dogs have ground-level views and the camera has ways of showing sand-waves in Machair Bay.

Scottish Islands Explorer - tries to focus on a variety of angles

Friday, 18 April 2014

Nice Work ... Get It?

Recall the George Gershwin number, 'Nice Work If You Can Get It'? Well, there are a hundred permanent jobs coming onto the employment market, through BP, at their Sullum Voe Terminal, Shetland. The upside is that they will be on the offshore pattern of two weeks on / three weeks off; a downside could be that they demand the right, specific skills. More information is available through an item in Shetland News. Gershwin repeated the line - 'And you can get it - if you try' - four times. Revive memories with Peggy Lee and Frank Sinatra in performance.

Scottish Islands Explorer - Working to promote islands

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Tongue Twisters

The Abhainn Dearg (Red River) Distillery, at Carnish, Uig, Isle of Lewis, is the most westerly distillery in Scotland. Its owner and founder, Marko Tayburn (below), looks forward to an event - from 26 - 31 May - to celebrate Homecoming Scotland 2014. An item in the Stornoway Gazette features the local MSP, Dr Alasdair Allan, who is the the Scottish Government's Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland's Languages. That's not a job title to be pronounce faultlessly after a dram of malt whisky. The tongue twister - 'The Leith police dismisseth us' - is, however, marginally more difficult.

Scottish Islands Explorer - easy on the eye

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Lo Lo to Ro Ro

The conveying of cars to and from CalMac ferries was - until 50 years ago - always undertaken by the Lo Lo method of Lift On; Lift Off. Then on Wednesday 15 April 1964 the first of the Ro Ro - Roll On; Roll Off - services was introduced on the triangular route linking Uig - Tarbert - Lochmaddy. The details are in this Stornoway Gazette item and the image below is taken from an early 1980s postcard of Tarbert, Harris, by which time the Ro Ro practice was widespread through the company's routes.

Scottish Islands Explorer - changed from three to multiple colours in 2002

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

More To Come

The week started well for Shetland, in general, and Sumburgh Airport, in particular, with the maiden flight of Loganair's 50-seater Saab2000 on services to and from the mainland. The full details are at Shetland News, but, suffice to say, the increased capacity of 40% means that more passengers will be flying the routes for both business and pleasure.

Scottish Islands Explorer - always keen to increase those on board

Monday, 14 April 2014

Speak Up; Talk On

There are enclaves of longevity throughout the world where people attain remarkably high ages. Among the factors to be found in them are living close to the sea, having a diet of fish and residing in an area with a strong sense of community. Now research is being undertaken into the effect of being bi-lingual. Apparently it keeps the memory working and resists the onset of such conditions as dementia. See the Stornoway Gazette item on a prospective study of some Lewis residents.

Scottish Islands Explorer - remains young in years

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Bag the Bruck

Some streets of London will have been cleaned for today's Marathon. The beaches of Orkney are being cleaned this weekend for the annual 'Bag the Bruck' campaign that is now in its 20th year. 'Bruck' is the Orcadian word for rubbish and by this evening some 500 volunteers will have combed 50 beaches in an effort to preserve the environment and to prevent damage to wildlife. The booklet Bag the Bruck is excellent and can be downloaded by just clicking. It's somewhat easier, but less satisfying, than picking.

Scottish Islands Explorer - Its intention is never to become litter

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Sheltered Accommodation

The new-opened Stornoway Marina is ready to do business for the Summer months and beyond. The facility has an urban setting and a rural outlook (the grounds of Lews Castle are a short row away) with provision for 70 craft, up to 24 metres in length. Being on the east side of Lewis it provides sheltered berths and with its situation in the town centre many facilities are available on the doorstep ... or gangplank. Read more via the item in the Stornoway Gazette.

Scottish Islands Explorer - looks forward to being accommodated there

Friday, 11 April 2014

'Cloth and the City'

'Heritage, style and durability' are words that have been used to describe the production of Harris Tweed cloth and could well be applied to the development of New York City. The two have come together in the launch of a promotional campaign that deserves to be called 'Cloth and the City'. Read more in the Stornoway Gazette item and consider the appeal of this iconic 1959-style, New York Yankees baseball cap.
Scottish Islands Explorer - not yet big in Manhattan

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Still Sorting

The modern postcode system was devised in 1959, and tested first in Norwich. Then 40 years ago it was established throughout the UK. Some factors have still to be sorted according to some residents ... particularly those in Caithness and parts of Sutherland who were allotted KW codes.

KW refers to Kirkwall, the administrative centre of Orkney, and people who, for example, live in KW13 - Forsinard (above) - feel that they are in the dead centre  of the mainland. Sometimes they are requested to pay additional delivery charges

as though goods ordered have to be flown first into the main Orkney airport. It can seem confusing and be expensive. This BBC News item gives further insights.

Scottish Islands Explorer - depends on postcodes for effective deliveries

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Glimpsed on Scalpay

The distance between Scalpay, with its bridge, and Kershader, with its Ravenspoint Visitors' Centre, is, as the crow flies, some 18 miles. The road route is a little further. The two places were brought together for a few tantalising moments during BBC Alba's Eilean Fraoich programme when, among the background features during an interview in the Scalpay Community Shop, were copies of Scottish Islands Explorer magazine. Its back office is to be found at the Ravenspoint Centre.

Scottish Islands Explorer - in place, exactly where it should be

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Diary for Dairy

Milk production in the Western Isles ceased relatively recently and all dairy products are now imported. That is about to change as Gordon and Scott Mackay, from Shawbost (below) are planning to bring sources of fresh milk to their croft on Lewis. Four Guernsey cows have arrived from the South of England and the Isle of Wight. The rest of the young stock will be coming from Wales in September. Nine dairy farms a week are closing in the UK as profit margins have become eroded. The trend is being resisted here. The details are in a Stornoway Gazette item which indicates certain connections between island interests.

Scottish Islands Explorer - Guernsey and the Isle of Wight not usually covered

Monday, 7 April 2014

Heather on Islands

Heather Dewar was born on Islay and from tomorrow, Tuesday 8 April, will be introducing eight other islands through a series of programmes on BBC Alba. The Stornoway Gazette has details of her insights, through the appropriately-named Eileanan Fraoich (for Fraolich is Gaelic for 'Heather'), about Scalpay, Rum, Tiree, Gigha, Eigg, Raasay, Rathlin and Lismore. If you are able to do so, tune in at 20.30 on Tuesdays for the next eight weeks or see what BBC iPlayer can provide.

Scottish Islands Explorer - in its case, every eight weeks

Sunday, 6 April 2014

A Singular Existence

The Aurora Borealis - known in the Northern Isles as 'The Mirrie Dancers' - gives this tin shed at Haroldswick, Unst, a distinctive look. Obviously the most northerly of the British Isles is unique, but yesterday's item about a person leading a singular existence on Fair Isle prompted another response. Last year some readers of the magazine were visiting the island and met a man, probably in his 80s, who claimed never to have left Unst in his life. For him, even Yell was a step or sail too far. Any more examples of restrictive practices?

Scottish Islands Explorer - tries to step it out

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Straight and Narrow

Some people have comfort zones in which they spend much of their lives. There are infinite routes to follow in life, but the appeal of the 'straight and narrow', the 'well-trodden trail' or the 'customary routine' can dictate and form psychological bonds as well as boundaries. A reader responded to the recent Fair Isle item and described how he had, some years ago, met a resident, in her 90s, of that island. She claimed never, ever, to have seen the North Lighthouse (above). She was the eldest in a family, her parents had died young and she prepared meals as well as undertake housework for her younger siblings. When they went to cut peat, within sight of the lighthouse, she stayed at home. Other tales of 'restricted horizons' - please.

Scottish Islands Explorer - Tries to extend horizons    

Friday, 4 April 2014

Cnoc On Effect

The Toravaig House Hotel (above) on the peninsula of Skye with the Sound of Sleat coastline is an award-winning establishment. Soon it may be joined by another enterprising development - the Torabhaig Distillery - which is planned to be set up at

Cnoc on a former farm steading (above) that will look like the architects' concepts (below). A full and highly-informative account of the project and the involvement  of Finlay Calder, capped 34 times for Scotland and British Lions' captain, is to be found in the West Highland Free Press.

Scottish Islands Explorer - Here's to a new malt on the block ... at Cnoc

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Firsts on Fair Isle

Undoubtedly, Fair Isle can claim a number of firsts. Some varieties of birds on their first visit to the UK have been sighted and recorded here. Now the first television drama to be set in this northern isle will be presented on BBC1 on 8 & 15 April at 21.00. It's the location for the next two episodes of Shetland, the crime thriller based on the the books of Ann Cleeves. Full details appear as an item in Shetland News, but do remember that reference is made here on the blog of Scottish Islands Explorer, a national magazine with international sales which was founded on the island on 2 January 2000. So maybe it was the first publication to be set up anywhere on the first working day of the new millennium?

Scottish Islands Explorer - now in its 15th year