Saturday, 31 May 2014

Swim or Row?

Earlier this week the forthcoming relay swim from Harris to St Kilda was featured. Now for the return journey - rowing from Village Bay, Hirta, to Portree Harbour, Skye. These ventures, of course, combine human endeavour with charity fund-raising while the photograph above focuses on times when the boat was an integral part of travelling. Go to the Row St Kilda to Skye website in order to read the item and savour the images.

Scottish Islands Explorer - ready to raise awareness and funds

Friday, 30 May 2014

Classics at Clickimin

There's no stopping Bristol Cars, especially when parked in Kensington High Street, London, on the kerb, on red lines, close to a traffic-light controlled junction in order to be ... photographed. The company's recent business history has been difficult, but ten members of the Bristol Owners and Drivers' Association will be displaying their cars at the Shetland Classic Motor Show at the Clickimin Leisure Centre, Lerwick, on the weekend of 7 & 8 June. They are stopping while on a tour of the Northern Isles.

Scottish Islands Explorer -  strives to produce classic editions

Thursday, 29 May 2014

An Ultimate Destination

The people of St Kilda had their craft as well as their 'mail-boats', but journeys usually started from the Isle of Harris rather than from Village Bay, Hirta (above). This will be the route of a pioneering venture taking place between Saturday 28 June until Friday 4 July when a group of swimmers (assisted by three kayakers and the crew of a cabin cruiser) will attempt a relay swim to St Kilda. Find out more about this arduous event, which will raise funds for charity, by clicking on to St Kilda Swim.

Scottish Islands Explorer - pleased that there are easier ways to reach places

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Seaplane in Shetland

Enthusiasts will know whether the Cessna FR172F, above, should be termed a seaplane or a floatplane. However, one landed in Lerwick Harbour, Shetland, and then flew on to Tingwall Airport and the Out Skerries. It was the first time that many had seen this variety of aircraft. Seaplanes were commonplace in this area was when Catalinas were based at Sullum Voe during the Second World War. A full account with images is available in Shetland News.

Scottish Islands Explorer - floatplanes appears to fit island requirements

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

More One-Horse-Races

The European Election Results of 2014 certainly produced three one-horse-races in island communities. As reported yesterday, the Liberal Democrats swept to victory in Shetland with the Scottish National Party over 750 votes behind them. Labour came in fifth, with the Conservatives just behind them.The poll was comparable in Orkney where the Lib Dems secured 1,825 votes, almost a thousand ahead of the SNP. The Conservatives came third, with Labour in sixth position. In the Western Isles the SNP piled up 3,310 votes with Labour trailing some 1,500 behind. UKIP beat the Conservatives for third place and the Liberal Democrats managed only 243 votes, under half the total of the Scottish Greens who were in fifth place.

Scottish Islands Explorer - appeals to all parties

Monday, 26 May 2014

Topsy Turvy Results

This poster, featuring Fair Isle, is for a race of sailing boats, 2014 Fireball Europeans. However, the result of the 2014 European Elections in the Shetland Islands Council Area provides a welcome explosion of a fireball for the Liberal Democrats, damaged by their implosion of votes further south in the rest of the UK. They not only came top, but with over double the number of votes secured by the Scottish National Party. Their Coalition partners, the Conservatives, came sixth, while the United Kingdom Independence Party, triumphant in many parts of the country, were beaten by the Scottish Greens. Shetland does things differently.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aware of different and distinctive outlooks

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Pyramid Sailing?

When the Hebridean Princess passed the Elizabeth G off Skye recently it was obvious that two holiday companies had encountered each other. However, you could be excused when looking more closely at the photograph, taken by Christina Macaulay, of thinking that this was not of the inshore Scottish waters, but of an Egyptian stretch of the Nile with a pyramid prominently on view.

Scottish Islands Explorer - could not be accused of pyramid-selling

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Top Spot

The top spot in the UK - not for the forthcoming European Election results, but in terms of physical position - is Out Stack, Shetland. Some of us have been fortunate to see it; all who visit this site can go there, at least vicariously, thanks to Andy Strangeway who took along his video camera when visiting on 8 August 2009. So venture along with him, for looking and lingering, on Britain's most northerly point.

Scottish Islands Explorer - Should commission a complete item on this outcrop

Friday, 23 May 2014

Community Hub Plan

Plans have been made to turn the old school in Glendale, Skye, into a hub for the community - with a hostel created within the existing building; the schoolhouse restored; a bistro pub and art gallery situated within a new section. The West Highland Free Press carries the story and the three of the key campaigners are pictured above.

Scottish Islands Explorer - looks forward to being at the hub

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Memories Stirred

Sitting comfortably? Ready to return to the North Star Cinema in Harbour Street, Lerwick ... at least with memories. Alex Greig, who managed the cinema from the late 1950s for seven years, was visiting the island recently and was given a tour of the new Mareel, which opened last year. The North Star had closed in the early 1980s and so many residents were unable able 'to go to the pictures' locally for over 25 years. Alex took the opportunity to visit Ruby Lindsay, who had run the Bona Vista Guest House where he had stayed throughout the time he had worked at the cinema. He was among the last of her visitors - for she died last week, aged 105. She would have recalled the days before cinemas were built, feature films made and sound introduced.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has existed during only one century

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Become Acquainted

There are about 1,600 residents in North Uist, including the islands of Baleshare, Berneray and Grimsay. This is a decline of 35% since the 1950s and attempts are being made to revive the effectiveness of the local economy. Become acquainted with what is happening through a West Highland Free Press interview with Robert Fraser, Chairman of the North Uist Development Company, and what has happened geographically and historically through Undiscovered Scotland. The view across Loch Euphort (above) shows a construction designed to attract; the beginning of the ford to Vallay marks the start of a road that leads to a deserted settlement. 

Scottish Islands Explorer - continues to raise awareness, if not population

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Rubbing Along with Ruby

The residents of Kirkwall must have been a little daunted when the cruise ship Ruby Princess docked at Hatson Pier last Sunday morning and up to 2971 passengers and 1133 crew-members could have come ashore. It was certainly a case of all hands on retail outlets, including the post office, in the town. At least the interior of St Magnus Cathedral, although different in style, can match the dimensions of one section of the ship's design. If you want to learn more, then go to The Orcadian.

Scottish Islands Explorer - should have sold well in the Kirkwall outlets

Monday, 19 May 2014

See and Hear Berneray

The Gatliff Hebridean Hostels Trust maintains three hostels - one of which appeals to many for its attractive setting on a small island with a compelling coastline. Canvas prints (presented above and below) of Berneray are available from Photo4Me and an audio / visual tour appears here. Make your Monday morning memorable by looking and listening.

Scottish Islands Explorer - tries to take people to appealing places

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Tingwall Stalled

The Tingwall Glasshouse has not been used for some years and that state will continue, now that Transition Shetland has been unable to generate sufficient support to revive its use. Shetland News reports on this unsuccessful phase of prospective development. With solar farms springing up in the sunnier south, it's a shame that the production of food crops will not be featuring here again ... at least for some time.

Scottish Islands Explorer - endeavouring to generate support

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Top Three Trips

It's over three years ago - on 11 May 2011 - that this blog was founded and an item on Barra Airport led the way. It's a place that's always being featured somewhere, quite understandably.

A news-story in the Stornoway Gazette reveals a poll that has put the approach to the airport in the top three, worldwide. You can virtually see why here with three images - of scene, sand and sky.

Scottish Islands Explorer - top, or only, magazine about the Scottish islands

Friday, 16 May 2014

Jewel Revival?

Apparently some 1200 new jobs are being created in the UK every day at present. Some may be revived in Orkney where new buyers have acquired Ortak Jewellery which went into administration last year. The story is in The Orcadian and there could be light on the horizon for manufacturing at Hatston and for the skilled craft in particular.

Scottish Islands Explorer - always looking towards horizons

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Seeking Seven SPAs

These northern gannets, flying in formation, look like invincible creatures, but they, and many other sea birds, require additional protection and the RSPB wants the Scottish Government to declare seven new SPAs - Sea Protection Areas. These include West Foula and North Kilda as well as Pentland Firth. The item in Shetland News provides details of the decline in bird numbers and proposals for restoring them.

Scottish Islands Explorer - our catchment areas for stories, not readers

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Staying on Flannan

Not the easiest of landings, nor the most secure-looking steps, but this was the landing place for an expedition to the Flannan Isles in August 2010 by a group interested in radio activities. Follow the full and informative blog entry, from EA2TA George, supplied by

Col McGowan and relish the enthusiasm and achievement of the party. Undoubtedly as well as making world-wide contact by radio waves, the members added to the composition of the island's cairn. There is a gallery of images available through the blog and some 800 photographs are displayed - capturing the place and the essence of the expedition in a sort of latter-day, electronic cairn.

Scottish Islands Explorer - excited by enthusiasts

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Mystery Solved?

There is certainly something compelling about the Flannan Isles and Keith McCloskey hopes, at least, to solve something of the mystery surrounding the disappearance of its lighthouse keepers. His work on the topic, including some recent scientific techniques, will be the subject of a Discovery Channel documentary. Some details are revealed in a Stornoway Gazette item.

Scottish Islands Explorer - tries to encompass much interest with few mysteries

Monday, 12 May 2014

A World Apart

Last Saturday evening, Ian Leask took this photograph, which appeared in Shetland News. In the foreground of Hay's Dock is the 1931 fishing boat, Pilot Us, and leaving Lerwick Harbour is the Azores, the 528' long cruise ship that is almost 70 years old.

Scottish Islands Explorer - seen alongside larger publications on occasions

Sunday, 11 May 2014

See the Slides

Make a move and see the show of slides that depict aspects of Island Life as collected in a competition organised by the Stornoway Gazette. It takes a minute and reveals why many get a lifetime of pleasure from the scenery in this newspaper's catchment area.

Scottish Islands Explorer - keeps coming back to these places

Saturday, 10 May 2014

St Kilda in 3D

To see more of St Kilda with some 3D reconstructions follow this trail through the Stornoway Gazette to Lochmaddy, North Uist, where an exhibition is being staged. It certainly is new, in depth and presents that element of virtual realism.

Scottish Islands Explorer - also has the third dimension

Friday, 9 May 2014

An Island Enthusiast

The obituary in the Daily Telegraph of writer, Leslie Thomas, indicates his enthusiasm and fascination for islands as well as the publication of his Some Lovely Islands and A World of Islands.

Scottish Islands Explorer - indicates plenty of them to write about.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

From Defunct to Functions

This aerial view of Mid Yell, from the fine collection of images by the late Adrian Warren, shows the Shetland settlement that will soon be enhanced again. The Hilltop Bar, defunct for some time, will be opening at 19.00 tomorrow and looks forward to catering for individuals, groups, parties and functions. See what's on offer from this Shetland News item.

Scottish Islands Explorer - pleased to report on reviving businesses

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Temperance to Heritage

The Temperance Hall at Kettletoft, Sanday, was built in 1894 to encourage not just temperance, or moderation, but abstinence from alcohol among residents, in general, and seafarers, in particular. Now, 120 years later - after a period of dereliction - the building has been revived as the Sanday Heritage Centre and opened its doors to the public last weekend. More is to be found in an item from The Orcadian.

Scottish Islands Explorer - rarely tempted to abstain from consuming ... news

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Expedition & Excursion

Here is a photograph of Mealista on the west coast of Lewis, beyond Uig. It was taken in 1979 when the Schools Hebridean Society organised an expedition there. In the background is the mile-long Mealista Island to which - on Saturday 17 May - the Islands Book Trust will be running an excursion from Husinish, North Harris. The details are to be found both on its website and below. So that's 35 years between the expedition and an excursion. It is, however, 181 years since the island was permanently inhabited.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aware of the passages between islands and of time

Monday, 5 May 2014

From Air to Sea Waves

Gaelic television and radio presenter, Niall Iain Macdonald, has flown to New York this Bank Holiday weekend in order to begin an epic journey ... back to Stornoway by rowing boat.

The details of, and reasons for, undertaking the sensational solo journey are provided in an item from the BBC website. Some way to spend May, June and July! Now 39 years old, he succeeded in rowing single-handed from Stornoway to Ullapool in 2008.

Scottish Islands Explorer - well prepared to fly

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Open Sumburgh

It was 'a soft opening' on Friday when the Sumburgh Head Lighthouse, Visitor Centre and Nature Reserve received members of the public for the first time. The £5.4 million complex now leads the way - at least in the very south of Shetland - in the field of tourist attractions. HRH The Princess Royal will complete the formalities of opening, early next month. Read what Shetland News observes about local delight.

Scottish Islands Explorer - will be visiting the attraction later in June

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Author, Adventurer, Aviator

The Irish Examiner was the first national newspaper to present an obituary of Daphne Pochin Mould, a geologist by training who became a prolific author, pre-eminent adventurer and pioneering aviator. She was a frequent contributor to the Cork-based paper that circulates throughout the Republic, but which is centred on Munster. Details of her life and numerous books appear in a Wikipedia entry. Her Roads from the Isles: a Study of the North-West Highland Tracks was published in 1950 and Scotland of the Saints in 1952.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a title that applies to her perfectly

Friday, 2 May 2014

Votes Counted

May is traditionally a month when elections take place in the UK and, this year, in Europe. The result of a ballot in a far north-west part of Europe was announced last night. The residents of the Pairc community in the South Lochs area of Lewis had been asked to take part in a postal vote as to whether the Pairc Estate should be transferred to the Pairc Trust in an amicable transfer. 62.7% of those entitled to take part did so with 166 (68.3%) in favour and 77 (31.7%) against. A new era in community ownership has started.

Scottish Islands Explorer - the only national publication with an office in the Pairc