Saturday, 31 January 2015


The North Harris Trust has plans, and has secured permission, to harness power from the Maraig River. It will involve a micro-hydro scheme and is featured in a West Highland Free Press item.

Scottish Islands Explorer - powered by ideas

Friday, 30 January 2015

Mirror and Herald

Earlier in the week the Holm of Huip, Orkney, was featured in this blog. Now take a look at an article in the Mirror, which compares its price with those of London properties and at one in The Herald where five Scottish properties of around £300k are surveyed. They make interesting points of comparison and contrasting.

Scottish Islands Explorer - available at 395p

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Up Helly Aa

It's Up Helly Aa time in Shetland. 'Up' refers to end of an event; 'Helly' is linked to holiday; while 'Aa' covers all. These images were taken by David Gifford and a further range of photographs is on the BBC website. Fire your imagination!

Scottish Islands Explorer - burns with enthusiasm

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

From 'Not' to 'Hot' Spots

There was a time when Brough Lodge, Fetlar, would have been a most significant construction on the island. Now with internet access, it's the phone mast, the broadband facilities and their power that count. Vodafone is continuing to focus on 3G coverage in five of Shetland's more rural communities. See what's being rolled out by reading the Shetland News item.

Scottish Islands Explorer - digital editions available through pocketmags

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Seal Home to be Sealed

It lies to the north-west of Stronsay, in the Orkney group, and is opposite that island's airstrip. Here is Holm of Huip, home to Atlantic grey seals, an islet that is up for sale through Vladi Private Islands. Take a look at what's on offer and the price being asked through this Daily Telegraph article.

Scottish Islands Explorer - likes to publicise private islands

Monday, 26 January 2015

Islay Perspectives

The sunrise over a fishing boat in Loch Indaal, Islay, is a fitting start to the week, but for a really different perspective go to the the two winter panoramas on the Islay Blog. They present remarkable perspectives when enlarged on your screen.

Scottish Islands Explorer - devoted to the islands and to new dimensions

Saturday, 24 January 2015

From the Sea by Sky

The Irish fishing vessel, the Iuda Noafa, found itself in very different waters last Tuesday when 48 miles off the Butt of Lewis. The Stornoway Coastguard helicopter came to the rescue of its crew and here is a dramatic video of some of the operation from Sky News.

Scottish Islands Explorer - leads a calm and sheltered existence

New Haven for Huskyan

There will soon be a new boat in a new haven, Stromness. It's the MV Huskyan, a dive boat built for Radiant Queen Charters. It has been launched at Newhaven on the south coast of England and will soon be sailing north to be ready for the 2015 diving season. 'Huskyan' is an old Orkney word for 'strength' which sounds as though it could refer to the powerful dogs associated with sledge-pulling. However, huskies are apparently  a contraction of 'huskimos', a variation of 'eskimos' once used by English sailors. For a reference to new a crew job on the Huskyan go to this Facebook page and for more details of the vessel go to The Orcadian.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has had features on Scapa Flow diving

Friday, 23 January 2015

Stornoway Warming

Stornoway in the Autumn sun is pictured above and at the end of day is glimpsed below. The temperatures here have been significant during 2014 by being ... above the average in every month except December. In fact, the year has seen records broken. Survey the details in this Stornoway Gazette item.

Scottish Islands Explorer - warms readers' interests

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Protecting Bere

The Barony Mills at Birsay, Orkney, produces beremeal (from bere, a variety of barley which is often called 'corn' locally) for bannocks and beer. It has a following beyond the island from where moves have been made to safeguard its identity with Protected Food Name status. The details are in The Orcadian. The name used for bere in the past was bygg, still a term for barley in Norway.

Scottish Islands Explorer - relished and purchased the product when in Birsay

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Top of (and in) the UK

Frankie's of Brae, Shetland, is the most northerly of Britain's fish and chip shops and has now been voted the top in the UK within the independent takeaway category. Read about the National Fish and Chips Awards 2015 presentation at the Lancaster Gate Hotel, London, in Shetland News ... and then make your way there ... to Brae.

Scottish Islands Explorer - proud to have eaten in at Frankie's

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

St Kilda Diary

The Church and Manse on St Kilda are where Alice MacLachlan would have written her diaries about life on the island from 1906 - 1909. She was the wife of the minister and teacher at the school. Her observations were published only yesterday. Go to the Stornoway Gazette item and click onto the extracts from the National Trust for Scotland.

Scottish Islands Explorer - still read in 106 years time?

Monday, 19 January 2015

Seaforth at Kirkwall

Here's CalMac's latest, MV Loch Seaforth, at Greenock, while by accessing The Orcadian you can see the ship moored at Hatson Pier, Kirkwall. It is there and will be a Scrabster, near Thurso, as part of crew familiarisation exercise with different types of docking equipment. Its ultimate, regular destinations will be Stornoway and Ullapool.

Scottish Islands Explorer - familiar already to thousands of readers

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Great Value on Sanday

Three Orkney properties were featured in last Friday's Bricks and Mortar section of The Times. One was the Newquoy Guest House and Writers' Retreat on the island of Sanday. It has evolved from the Victorian-built Burness School and offers a wealth of interesting features. It's at least worth a visit to the Bell Ingram website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has featured this fine residence and retreat

Saturday, 17 January 2015


This weekend the Northern Lights Board vessel, the Pharos, will be taking advantage of a lull in the weather in the Pentland Firth to investigate the wreck of the cement carrier, the Cemfjord. It capsized in 70 metres of water on 2 January. The details are to be found in The Orcadian.

Scottish Islands Explorer - always searching for stories

Friday, 16 January 2015

Short Walks; Long Life

The second Friday Islay Picture of 2015, taken last year on Machir Bay, is a timely reminder that one of the components for longevity is, apparently, a brisk short walk of around 20 minutes, a day. These walkers certainly went for a longer stroll, but the resolution to get out and about could well be adopted as part of our daily routines. However strong the resolve, the chances of such stunning scenery is not so high.

Scottish Islands Explorer - produced through a series of daily routines

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Shepherds' Warning

The 'red sky in the morning, shepherds warning' certainly applied on Islay. Here is a sunrise photograph taken on Tuesday and the sequence of images and words from the Islay Blog for Wednesday (yesterday) is a natural sequel.

Scottish Islands Explorer - hails the red at night for delight

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

A Day Makes A Difference

The Hanseatic Booth in Symbister Harbour, Whalsay, has seen many changes over several centuries. Ivan Reid captured the change there in 24 hours from last Saturday's storm. See his images at Shetland News.

Scottish Islands Explorer - changes observed from time out of mind

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Domestic Tower House

Shuna is set in Loch Linnhe - the sealoch route from Oban to Fort William. It is farmed, with an attractive farmhouse, visible centre left, looking towards Lismore. At the most southerly end is Shuna Castle - which was built as a domestic residence incorporating a tower, not as a fortress. Spectacular views of the building abandoned over 200 years ago can be accessed and purchased through FP Videos.

Scottish Islands Explorer - keen to view, usually from a distance

Monday, 12 January 2015

Uncertainties Ahead

The storms of the past week came and went, but the residents of Out Skerries, one of Shetland's smallest communities, have concerns about the future of its main employer, the salmon business.

Skerries is very much 'out on a limb' and many feel that having the ferry based there instead of at Whalsay would bring permanent jobs and more accommodating schedules. Read the report in Shetland News.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aware of the significance of bases

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Scotstorm Impact

The 'Scotstorm' of the past 48 hours has left its mark. Winds rattled the Western Isles at speeds between 79 - 106 mph, peaking at one gust of 113 mph. There is an irony in the 'EasyJet' markings of the aircraft coming into land;

a fearful presence of a high water mark impacting upon a passing vehicle; and something sinister about the surging force of waves off the west coast of Islay captured by James Deane.

For a 45-second video of the western shores of Mainland Orkney go to the BBC website. Share the experience ... in comfort and safety.

Scottish Islands Explorer - contends with material, not meteorological, pressures

Saturday, 10 January 2015

The Viking Wave?

Is the Viking warrior dismissing or challenging the waves? His gestures were needed yesterday afternoon when NorthLink's Hamnavoe took advantage of a lull in the storm and set off for Scrabster from Stromness. Sit in comfort and view the images from The Orcadian.

Scottish Islands Explorer - enjoys a benign time, for the most part.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Go Yr No for Info

There's no alternative to the weather itself - especially when approaching or exploring such places as North Rona, renowned for its high winds. However, there are different ways of accessing forecasts / conditions. A website - - may be maintained by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation and the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, but supplies information about seven million places worldwide. Here's what's happening on North Rona. 'Yr' means light drizzle, although it can convey the impressions of giddy, joyful and wild; 'No' is Norway abbreviated. Still want to go cruising in the Atlantic waters - like the party above? See what Northern Light Charters has to offer.

Scottish Islands Explorer - takes a different view ... of weather

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Trek and Treat

Getting to Hushinish, North Harris, is quite a trek, but every foot of the way is worth it. The metalled road commands unrivalled views and the beach is among the most highly-rated in the UK. There's a recently-finished, self-catering, sea-shore cottage, Ceol na Mara, that deserves consideration and, at least, a website visit. Occupants find themselves 'a world apart' - with Scarp and Loch Resort around the corner - and yet with home comforts and pleasurable treats right there.

Scottish Islands Explorer - comes with the cottage  

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Challenging Plots

Portrait of a garden or a landscape to relish - either image of Lea Gardens, Shetland, indicates that it has been a challenge to create them. This was recognised by Alan Titchmarsh in his recent ITV series nominating Britain's 30 Best Back Gardens. Time to catch up on viewing or of planning yours?

Scottish Islands Explorer - involves creating a product with intensive labour

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Rock Solid

Ailsa Craig certainly has a dominating presence (above) - with that wintry look - and an inviting element - with summer excursions in mind (below).

If you want to see more of the latter then consider the Ailsa Craig Photogallery of Davie Law.

Scottish Islands Explorer - planning for trips in '15

Monday, 5 January 2015

Set in Sand

Here is a timely reminder of the ways in which the sea has taken its toll of shipping - with an old shipwreck that still features in the sands of Machir Beach, Islay. It is one of a series of images from across Scotland that have been selected by the BBC website and happens to have been taken by a young photographer, aged 13.

Scottish Islands Explorer - also acts as a marker

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Down in the Sea

The alarm was raised at 14.30 yesterday when the overturned hull of the bulk carrier Cemfjord was spotted from a passing NorthLink ferry, the Hrossey.

some ten miles to the east of the Pentland Skerries. Full details are to be found on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aware of dangers at every turn

Saturday, 3 January 2015


The long festive season draws to a close over this weekend and the realities of life become more evident once again. The financial state of the Clan Donald Lands Trust, based at Armadale Castle, Skye, is featured in the West Highland Free Press. It serves as a reminder of the consequences of having to 'pay the piper', even where they are born and bred.

Scottish Islands Explorer - manages, but on a much smaller scale

Friday, 2 January 2015

St Kilda Down Under

The residents of St Kilda left their homes almost 85 years ago. By then the name of their settlement had been applied to seashore developments in both Australia - near Melbourne - and New Zealand - in Dunedin. For a 'compare and contrast' feature go to the item by William Cameron that appears in the current Stornoway Gazette.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

New Year; New Find

The Rockall Trough have been known about for many years. However, HMS Rosemary discovered what is now called Rosemary Bank, an extinct volcano, while surveying there in 1930. Now this is found to contain an extensive deep-sea sponge reef. Much is revealed in a BBC website item.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has readers accustomed to something new