Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Seasonal Opening

The Mission House Studio, Finsbay, has opened its doors for the new season. This Harris gallery houses the photographic and ceramic products of its owners and is well worth a visit. The opening hours are simple: Monday - Saturday 10.00 - 18.00 and a warm welcome is assured.

Scottish Islands Explorer - mission accomplished every other month

Monday, 30 March 2015

It Started With A Kiss!

The numbers of Northern Gannets are up this year - according to surveys of breeding colonies such as Bass Rock, St Kilda, Sule Skerry and Sule Stack. Read the Stornoway Gazette report and consider the source of this photograph - It Started With a Kiss! - by Jamie MacArthur.

Scottish Islands Explorer - it all started with an idea

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Yell Waves

Yesterday it was Eday, Orkney, producing energy from new turbines; today it's Yell, Shetland. A new direct-drive tidal turbine will be harnessing power from Bluemell Sound. Edinburgh-based Nova Innovation claim that the device will be revolutionary. Details are to be found in Shetland News.

Scottish Islands Explorer - powered by ideas about locations

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Eday Surf 'n' Turf

Eday, Orkney, will soon be pioneering the production of electricity and exporting excess. at least as far as Kirkwall. The so-called Surf 'n' Turf approach will combine the sources of tidal and wind turbines. The Orcadian carries the first part of the story; the rest follows there next week.

Scottish Islands Explorer - so interested in the innovative

Friday, 27 March 2015

Junction for Tagon

Tagon Stores, Shetland, is on a significant junction where you take, if heading north, the left route for Brae and beyond or the right for ferries to Yell, Fetlar and Unst. The successful shop itself is at a commercial junction with new owners about to acquire it. The story is in Shetland News.

Scottish Islands Explorer - crosses a new junction every eight weeks

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Depicting Light

An image by Eve Graham, from Lewis, has been selected from over 21,000 to be in the top ten of the Velux 'Lovers of Light' competition. Look at her Lewis Black House and an account of the event in the Stornoway Gazette.

Scottish Islands Explorer - its readers tend to love light

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Church to Community Centre

Investment in vessels has obviously taken place in Grimsay Harbour. Now plans are afoot to raise funds to convert the former Free Church building into a community centre. The Stornoway Gazette has the details.

Scottish Islands Explorer - some change of use here

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Shared Journeys

It's now six years since these pupils from Papa Westray were photographed using the world's shortest scheduled flight that serves the neighbouring island of Westray and their school. However, they may have memories of the four times a week experience of the two-minute crossing undertaken while the ferry-boat was out-of-action. If so, there could be a suitable account for a project being run by the Scottish Book Trust which features Journeys. It's all a matter of 'inspiring readers and writers'.

Scottish Islands Explorer - shares the same trade

Monday, 23 March 2015

... or Chapel Going?

There was an opportunity yesterday to take a look into a primitive, natural church on South Rona. Today the focus is on North Rona and its Chapel - said to be the third oldest existing place of worship in Britain.

Take a look at the gallery of North Rona images presented by Charles Tait and at his website featuring his publications about the Northern Islands.

Scottish Islands Explorer - takes you places ... in comfort

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Going to Church ... Cave?

When South Rona was fully inhabited there was a demand by congregations for places of worship. Until the 1930s there were services in the Church Cave where the stone pews were certainly hard-wearing. An account of a visit is towards the end of a finely-illustrated account of a journey in walkhighlands and the photograph here was taken by Marc Calhoun, with his wife, Shawna, anticipating, perhaps, a sermon! Marc has visited the island some five times and his blog focuses on many of its features.

Scottish Islands Explorer - supports the Church of Congregational Comforts

Saturday, 21 March 2015

From Eclipse to New Light

Yesterday saw the shadow of the moon cast over the Isle of Lewis; today its Arnol Blackhouse is depicted in a new light. Go to the BBC website to see what 3D imaging technology can do.

Scottish Islands Explorer - spreads new light every eight weeks

Friday, 20 March 2015

Bark Worse Than Bite

The Viking ships, and their sailors, must have made a terrifying impact wherever they landed. However, their influence on indigenous populations was not as long lasting as once thought. Orkney residents, for example,  have some Norse DNA coding in their genetic make-up, but its limited to 25%. New studies are featured in a BBC website item.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a pedigree publication?

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Looking Up

It's a week for 'looking up' in the United Kingdom - with a fine show of the Northern Lights, a near total eclipse of the sun and George Osborne's assessment of the British economy. The photograph, by Euan Finlayson, is of Oban on what looks like a celebration of St Patrick's Day. There's a good array of Aurora Borealis images in a compilation to be found on Flipbook.

Scottish Islands Explorer - always trying to look out for interesting items

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Top Tourism

When Norse sailors first saw Muckle Flugga, the lighthouse was about a thousand years away from being constructed. It has become the most northerly building in Britain.

The replica Viking ship at the north end of Unst continues to attract attention and Tom Morton, the broadcaster and editor of Shetland Life has been appointed the island's tourism development officer for six months. He looks forward to promoting a top destination. Shetland Times reports on his intentions. 

Scottish Islands Explorer - has a vested interest in such promotional work

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Barra Hotel Sale

The Heathbank Hotel, Barra, is for sale. The last time that this establishment was on the market was in 1974 when the asking price was somewhat lower than today's £375,000 or thereabouts. Full details are in a Stornoway Gazette item where there is a reference to the hotel's trading on a seasonal basis and to its origins as a mission in the 19th Century. That architectural feature is still evident.

Scottish Islands Explorer - trading all-year-around

Monday, 16 March 2015

No Road, But Some Services

The distinctive colours of sea, shore and sky indicate an idyllic approach to Rhenigidale in North Harris. It was not connected to the road system until the late 1980s by which time the school population had dropped to one pupil. However, the school had served two other purposes for a number of years - as a suitable place for services when the Church of Scotland minister or missionary called and as an outpost of the Stornoway Library. Boxes of books containing over a hundred titles on a wide range of topics - from information to fiction - would be brought in, undoubtedly by boat. Incidentally there was a telephone service ... with just one phone, the iconic Rhenigidale 1.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aware of the settlement before vehicles arrived

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Seeking Sands

This photograph of Ham Voe, Foula, was taken by Julian Paren, whose work has taken him to the remoter parts of Britain and the Earth. People have long been attracted to such places where some have made their homes. John Sands, from Ormiston in East Lothian, lived from 1826 - 1900 and took up residence for periods of time on Vaila, Papa Stour and Foula, in Shetland, on St Kilda, Tiree and in the Faroes. He was a freelance journalist and crusader - once mockingly described as the 'Member of Parliament for St Kilda'. Does anyone have a photograph of him?

Scottish Islands Explorer - now seeking information on this Sands

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Two Headships for One

The crossing of this Sound will have to be part of the job for a Headteacher taking on The Keills and Small Isles Primary Schools in Islay and Jura. Go to the Islay Blog for details of an unusual appointment.

Scottish Islands Explorer - good reading en route

Friday, 13 March 2015

Man On A (Global) Mission

Christer Sundberg is a Swedish writer whose passion is to visit World Heritage Sites. He had seen over 250 of them when he came to Orkney and took away concepts, memories and film-clips. His video is well-worth seeing and can be accessed through The Orcadian. Take the trip with him.

Scottish Islands Explorer - relishes his role

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Skye to Colonsay

Last week Heather Dewar was at Staffin on Skye for the first in her new series of Eileanan Fraoich on BBC Alba. Tonight she presents insights about Colonsay, sometimes considered to be the most re-visited of the Scottish islands. Make it a matter of happy returns for her at 20.30.

Scottish Islands Explorer - looks forward to returning to so many islands

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Not Money for Old Rope

The Nevi Skerry Beacon, at the entrance to Scapa Flow, needs repainting. It was last coated some 20 years ago when Health & Safety rules were not so stringent. Then a contraption involving a chair was set up and lowered onto the structure. Now scaffolding will be required and the tenders for the work will probably be between £50,000 - £85,000. Read the report in The Press and Journal before getting carried away with a notion involving 'money and old rope'!

Scottish Islands Explorer - remember us if you secure the contract

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Sea Eagles Saved

The Islands Book Trust will be presenting a talk by John Love whose new book, A Saga of Sea Eagles, takes a personal look at how he was involved in their reintroduction to the Isle of Rum. It will be at An Lanntair, Stornoway, on 26 March and details are to be found in the Stornoway Gazette.

Scottish Islands Explorer - content just to see eagles

Monday, 9 March 2015

Generate and Go

There is something fascinating about the prospect of more than the 50 electric vehicles which are currently on the roads of Orkney. It would make the island group a real hub for future motoring. See what could happen as reported in an item from The Scotsman.

Scottish Islands Explorer - not need to plug in the magazine, just purchase

Sunday, 8 March 2015

A Transitional Weekend?

Two photographs from Shetland seem appropriate for this, the warmest weekend of the year so far. Winter Skies by Andrew Hutton suggest conditions of the past while Sheep on Minn Beach by Victoria Macdonald indicate something of that get-up-and-go energy associated with the Spring. These and others are featured on Shetland News.  

Scottish Islands Explorer - enjoys the passing of the seasons

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Not Worlds Apart

Joseph Sloan (below) is an engraver who was asked to illustrate Faraway World - An Orkney Boyhood by the Sanday-born author, William Towrie Cutt (1898 - 1981), will be in Kirkwall this afternoon. 24 of his engravings appear in Islanders: Orkney and the Arans and will feature in an exhibition at the Orkney Museum from today's launch until Saturday 28 March. Details appear in The Orcadian.

Scottish Islands Explorer - focuses on a relatively faraway world

Friday, 6 March 2015

Missed It?

A new series started last night on BBC Alba in which Heather Dewar visits diverse island communities. She begins in the north of Skye and met a crofter who swims his cattle across the stretch of water to Staffin Island for grazing. It is pictured above from The Quirang. Details of the contents of these programmes is in a Stornoway Gazette item. So it's perhaps time for BBC iPlayer in order to catch up?

Scottish Islands Explorer - has an Archive CD for catching up purposes

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Holiday Dreams?

Sky, sea, shore and a sporting estate make up this image of Uig Lodge in a distant part of Lewis. The facilities for letting and accommodation could well entice you as well as fulfil holiday dreams. Start the journey by clicking on and, at least, enjoying the sequence of photographs.

Scottish Islands Explorer - pinpoints places of pleasure

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Winds and Water

The notice clearly states that there is a welcome to the Isle of Skye ... except when the winds are considered to be too high. Then the Bridge is closed. Complaints have been made about what is felt to be unnecessary closures. The BBC website carries this story and another item features the leak in the subsea water pipe that is causing problems on Graemsay, Orkney, with its 12 inhabited houses and 27 residents. This hazard is put into context by Graemsay resident, Sian Thomas, in her blog, Life on a Small Island. Her home is on the relatively low-lying island (where West Hill is the highest point at 203') with Ward Hill (1572') on Hoy dominating in this photograph.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aware of features that dominate island life

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Sand and Skye

When Skye ultra-athlete, Donnie Campbell, and his running partner, Dr Andrew Murray, were completing an epic run in Nambia last month, they could have suffered from delusions about the landscape. Above is the Namib Desert and below are the Red Cuillins. The full details of their remarkable run are in an item in the West Highland Free Press.

Scottish Islands Explorer - seen as read

Monday, 2 March 2015

Sharing Walks

Walking is either a singular pursuit or a shared pleasure. An author, John Fergusson, is returning to Orkney in April to begin compiling a series of walks. He would like residents and visitors to tell him about their favourites in order for them to be shared with others. Go first to The Orcadian to read the full story and to contact the author.

Scottish Islands Explorer - features walks in most issues

Sunday, 1 March 2015

A Compelling Compilation

For a few years, in the 1850s, two men became enthusiastic about photography and soon became eminent in this pioneering field in mid-Victorian times. Their compelling images, compiled in a new book, focused mainly on Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Iona and Orkney. Dr Thomas Keith and John Forbes White specialised in their respective careers, as a surgeon and miller plus art collector, and actually became brothers-in-law. The finely-produced 144-page hardback book, pictured above and produced in a strictly limited edition of 500 copies, has recently been self-published by the Scottish-born Professor John Hannavy. It is only available directly through him at the attractive price of £20 plus postage and packing from £4 (for UK mailings) and upwards. Contact John Hannavy for full details.

Scottish Islands Explorer - will it be re-produced in 160 years time?