Saturday, 28 February 2015

Kilda at Uig

Here's the land gifted for the prospective St Kilda Centre at Uig, Lewis. Here, in the Stornoway Gazette, is a report on an aspect of progress for the project.

Scottish Islands Explorer - regularly features the archipelago

Friday, 27 February 2015

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Shetland Seal Freed

There are some compelling images of a young seal being freed after being trapped on a North Mainland beach in Shetland - via the Daily Mail website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - released every two months

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Landmark Illuminated

The Northern Lights provide an impressive background to the well-known Orkney landmark, the Italian Chapel on Lambholm. Take a look at The Orcadian and the work of its staff photographer, Tom O'Brien.

Scottish Islands Explorer - can always rely on a lively background

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Who's Counting?

Question: Who's counting the best beaches in Britain? Answer: Those who connect with TripAdvisor. Luskentyre, Harris, has been placed in eighth position which is certainly high considering its number of visitors is relatively low. The West Highland Free Press reports on the matter. The top three beaches were considered to be Woolacombe, Devon; Weymouth, Dorset; Rhossili, West Glamorgan.

Scottish Islands Explorer - striving to be the top island magazine

Monday, 23 February 2015

Supertides Superseded?

The BBC item on the weekend of 'supertides' has not been replaced by news of damage and distress, especially in the Scottish islands. The phenomenon is explained in the Met Office News Blog and details of tides around the British coast are available from the National Tidal and Sea Level Facility.

Scottish Islands Explorer - plenty of scope for observations about water

Sunday, 22 February 2015

A First Thursday

It was on Thursday 20 February 1472 that Orkney and Shetland joined Scotland. The Scotsman has feature article on the event and Julian Paren took this photograph of The Noup, Foula, just over 50 years ago. It is a piece of landscape that has remained unaltered since then, despite fierce weather on occasions, and during the previous 543 years.

Scottish Islands Explorer - often first appears on a Thursday

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Queen of Sweden Seen

270 years ago within the boundaries of Lerwick Harbour, the Drottningen af Swerige sank. The ship - translated as the 'Queen of Sweden' - has yielded finds and some of these are on display in the Shetland Museum. The exhibition will continue throughout 2015 and details are to be found in a Press and Journal item.

Scottish Islands Explorer - contains finds that are on page display

Friday, 20 February 2015

Total Eclipse in North

In exactly four weeks time - on Friday 20 March - at 09.30 an eclipse of the sun will be seen throughout Britain, dependent on cloud cover. The total solar eclipse will occur only in the northern parts and the Outer Hebrides will be particularly well placed to provide the complete spectacle. See the item in the Stornoway Gazette for detailed information and a forecast.

Scottish Islands Explorer - waiting for the lights to go out

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Highland Gateways

Journeying to the Highlands & Islands sometimes involves using cities as gateways. Jurys Inn Hotels has a presence in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen and they have launched a fantasy, Tolkienesque map to promote them. Click onto the hotel site, above, and be the jury of their product - in more ways than one - as as a gateway or getaway?

Scottish Islands Explorer - always ready to promote as well as to visit

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Sailing North

The CalMac vessel MV Saturn, which has been laid up for over three years, has been sold, will be refitted and in service for freight and specialist work in the Pentland Ferries fleet. A brief history of the Saturn, the last of the so called 'Clyde Streakers', is to be found in an item from The Orcadian.

Scottish Islands Explorer - always ready to sail north, without being sold

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Caisson Discussion

The caisson is a concrete structure that can minimise the impact of heavy waves. Their being built against the second Churchill Barrier will be discussed by members of the Orkney Island Council today. Read the item in The Orcadian.

Scottish Islands Explorer - new to the word 'caisson' as well

Monday, 16 February 2015

Bell Rock Railway

The Bell Rock Lighthouse is the world's oldest sea-washed lighthouse and was built between 1807 -10 some eleven miles east of the Firth of Tay. Its construction on what was also termed Inchcape Rock was supervised by Robert Stevenson and many ingenious ideas were developed on the innovative project.

Ways were needed to ensure the efficient transporting of materials during the periods of the day when lower tides allowed work to take place. The Bell Rock Railway was built and Professor Roland Paxton gives a detailed account of this engineering feat.

Scottish Islands Explorer - celebrates island achievements

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Take the Jura Road

Jura is some 30 miles long and up to seven miles wide. It has a single track road that goes from the foot to within a trek of the top. If you want to experience what the road has to offer - from wood-lined stretches to wild hazards - then take a series of video trips called Jura Excursions through the Islay blog. It presents a different kind of commute.

Scottish Isands Explorer - has a shorter commute, from bed to home office

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Lovejoy for Valentine's Day

When better to look up to the skies than on Valentine's Day to see Comet Lovejoy against the background of the Milky Way? Go to Northern Skies for in-depth observations.

Scottish Islands Explorer - comes down-to-earth in its observations

Friday, 13 February 2015

Changing Ways

Ceann Ear is the largest of the Monach Isles, some five miles off North Uist. It was inhabited, probably for over a thousand years, until 1942. For a time it contained a monastery and nunnery associated with Iona. However, even the most ardent religious recluse could, have he or she wished, walk away from this life as it was possible to pick your way over the sands at low tide to Baleshare on the ocean side of North Uist. That rite of passage finished in the 16th Century when a violent storm struck and washed away the low-lying land. Take a look at Ceann Ear through a video clip.

Scottish Isles Explorer - taking routes while the going is good

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Shining in the Sound

The brightness of these images are not to be confused with bright lights on Boreray, the 489-acre island in the Sound of Harris. At the end of the 19th Century there were 37 houses sheltering 152 residents. In 1923, all bar one family requested being evacuated. By 1961 the population was five and by the end of that decade everyone had left. The Free Church and schoolroom (below right) had been built with high hopes of arresting decline.

Scottish Islands Explorer - the distribution of the next issue begins tomorrow

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Prospective Creative Hub

At least the skies look bright above the former Ortak Workshop and Visitor Centre in Kirkwall, for sale as commercial premises. There are moves to acquire it as a prospective Creative Hub with the emphasis on an art and design centre. Details are in The Scotsman.

Scottish Islands Explorer - designed every other month

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Superstructure for Subsea

The AKOS Seafarer was moored at Hatson Pier, Kirkwall, last weekend, on its way to the tidal turbine in the Falls of Warness, off Eday. Many came to see and photo this specialist vessel with an impressive superstructure. The Orcadian carries details about the visit.

Scottish Islands Explorer - maintained by a simple business structure

Monday, 9 February 2015

Meals With Appeal

VisitScotland has judges for all sorts of awards. Last week CalMac's Mariners - the on-board restaurants - obviously appealed to them for the ferry company won the 'Taste Our Best' seal of approval. Read the account on the Islay Blog.

Scottish Islands Explorer - always looks forward to judging food

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Archaeology to Art

The Cairns Project at South Ronaldsay is one of the archaeological sites that has inspired Rik Hammond in the creation of his art exhibition at the Orkney Museum. See what's on offer at Perhaps Found (Perhaps Not). It definitely closes on the last day of this month.

Scottish Islands Explorer - to appear on the 18th of this month

Saturday, 7 February 2015

New Lease of Life?

The Royal Arch Masonic Hall in Bowmore, Islay, has not been in use for over ten years and has become dilapidated. Plans are being made to renovate it as holiday-letting accommodation. Some details of the building are featured in the Islay Blog and there is relief that an historic building, associated with Masonry may see masons at work in its renovation with a new lease of life.

Scottish Islands Explorer - welcomes the rituals of holiday-making

Friday, 6 February 2015


There is something compelling about Killegray House, the only residence on its 435 acre island in the Sound of Harris. Five people were permanent residents in 1931; two by 1971; and 20 years later the house was renovated, but it has attracted no one to live there permanently.

Scottish Islands Explorer - Understands how the idyllic is often 'summer-only'

Thursday, 5 February 2015

March On, In Portree

From March there will be a new facility in Portree, the main settlement and popular hub of Skye. The SYHA will be opening its latest hostel - with 18 rooms on the site of the former Bayfield Backpackers and adjacent Bayfield Guest House. More details will follow here, but access the SYHA website for news of the precise date when this fine facility will be ready for hostellers.

Scottish Islands Explorer - Also has interests over the Skye Bridge

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Caledonian Steam

The Waverley remains a well-known vessel along the West Coast of Scotland and its islands. A new book, The Caledonian Steam Packet Company by Alistair Deayton, gives a full illustrated history of the time when local communications depended on this business that was founded in 1889 and which merged with CalMac in 1973. Read the review in the Islay Blog.

Scottish Islands Explorer - Communicates regularly with coastal communities

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Bi-lingual: An Advantage

There are, so we are told, many advantages of being brought up or educated in a bi-lingual system. Read what the Stornoway Gazette has to say on the medium of Gaelic being taught in primary schools. All, bar two, of the schools in the Western Isles offer these opportunities.

Scottish Islands Explorer - Monoglot, alas

Monday, 2 February 2015

Struan Recipe Search

The Michaelmas or Struan Bannock is baked throughout Scotland and is associated with many customs. One is that its size is around 9 inches in diameter and half-an-inch thick. Another is that it should be produced by the eldest daughter of a family and that she should not use metal implements. In the Hebrides it is traditionally made with equal amounts of barley, oats and rye. A reader has requested a recipe. Can anyone help, please?

Scottish Islands Explorer - Enjoys the search for food

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Seahawks Support

The National Football League Super Bowl takes place in Arizona today when the Seattle Seahawks take on the New England Patriots. Marc Calhoun supports his local team in the Pacific NorthWest and has entered a fine picture of a full-supporting cast on his blog. How many other Seahawk fans are there in the Scottish NorthWest?

Scottish Islands Explorer - Bowled over by the event