Thursday, 30 April 2015

As Time Goes By

It's 1937 and a visiting Royal Naval officer talks with sub-postmaster, Peter Gear.

27 years later and what has become a disused building is captured in this image of 1964 by Julian Paren.

Then by 2010 the word 'derelict' is applicable to the long-closed, former post office on Foula.

Scottish Islands Explorer - taking time to evolve

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

A New Island in The Minch?

What appears to be an new island in The Minch came into view and was photographed by Dr Eddy Graham last Wednesday. The details of this phenomenon are to be found in his Hebridean Weather Blog.
There are, perhaps, sufficient Scottish islands already, without pop-up ones emerging!

Scottish Islands Explorer - tries to keep track of  what's on the horizon

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Scapa Flowing

Take a step back from this distillery and you are in Scapa Flow. Take a step towards it and you will be welcomed - if adult and until Friday 13 November. Read about how things are opening up - in The Orcadian.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a product that has been distilled for some 16 years

Monday, 27 April 2015

Creating Waves

There's an exhibition at the Peerie Cafe, Lerwick, until the end of May. It displays the work of Floortje Robertson, a young photographer, who was brought up in Shetland, has moved to Mull and Fuerteventura and now back to Shetland. Much of her work is concerned, as the exhibition name suggests, with Islands and their surrounding Atlantic waters. Follow the details in Shetland News and see her work in a different light.

Scottish Islands Explorer - tries to see them in a different light, too

Sunday, 26 April 2015

One in Ten Thousand

If you cannot fly over or direct a drone above the Great Polish Map of Scotland in the grounds of the Barony Castle Hotel outside Eddleston, Peebles, in the Borders, go there to visit on the ground. It's a 1:10,000 scale replica and has a memorable history that was featured through yesterday's blog and which appeared in the BBC's Secret Britain programme - from which the image below was captured by David Gartside.

Scottish Islands Explorer - here's a way of exploration that's also fairly painless

Saturday, 25 April 2015

On Arran Again

Arran has already featured twice in the past four days on the blog, but here is something exceptional. It's a concrete representation of the island and is from what is claimed to be the world's largest terrain relief model, the Great Polish Map of Scotland. Click to read full details of this exciting structure that was decaying, but which has recently been restored. Thanks again to David and Margaret Gartside for once again pointing us in an interesting direction.

Scottish Islands Explorer - also tries to stand out on the shelves

Friday, 24 April 2015

Far from Westminster

Elections are often conducted on dull days in polling stations that are meant to look austere. Here. at the Gibertson Games Hall, Lerwick, it was no exception. However, every constituency is different and none more so than Orkney and Shetland. It is the farthest from Westminster and voting seldom follows national trends. A magazine-style report through the BBC puts it into context and provides images of what faces the candidates there.

Scottish Islands Explorer - wants to be represented in your reading

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Arran for All Seasons

You can see the appeal of Arran - voted the top island in Scotland by those who like advising on trips - with this winter panorama.

Scottish Islands Explorer - covers top and bottom islands

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Ten Top Trip Islands

TripAdvisor gathers statistics as well as recommendations. Their Top Ten UK Island destinations has Scotland dominating, although the first place goes to the English Channel and Jersey. See how some members of the public have rated those beyond, including Arran, looming above.

Scottish Islands Explorer - keeps plugging away with its preferences

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Some Dun!

Two of our regular readers, David & Margaret Gartside, first drew attention to the fortress on Dun, St Kilda, featured in yesterday's blog. They had been impressed by the detail and illustrations through Canmore. It was from this source that they came across the above photograph of the wall which illustrates the size and intricacy of its construction. The builders of the fort were allegedly the Fir Bolg, translated as 'the men who bulged, swollen with battle fury', and who were, in pseudo-history, among Ireland's founders. The image below shows how the name of 'The Dragon's Tail' was suitably applied to this configuration of land on the part of the archipelago stretching from Hirta to Dun.

Scottish Islands Explorer - tries to bring land to life

Monday, 20 April 2015

Dun Looking and Finding

Dun, is a mile-long island in the St Kilda archipelago and was once joined to Hirta by a natural arch, destroyed probably in one of the frequent gales coming in from the south-west. It has plenty of vegetation by local standards, no sheep, and a large colony of fulmars. Its name derives from the Gaelic for 'fort' and its walls remain, somehow preserved against the elements and certainly recorded in Canmore by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. The image below was taken by Mary Harman in 1977; the one above during a trip organised by Northern Light Charters.

Scottish Islands Explorer - enjoys going off the beaten track

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Heed Him; Trace Them

They (the Vikings) came, went and left their mark. Now the EU Creative Europe Culture sub-programme will come and leave their euros. In fact, 1.9 million of them ... to Shetland Amenity Trust as part of a four-year investment to boost awareness of the transnational Follow the Vikings project. Take your first steps on this venture by going to Shetland News for background information.

Scottish Islands Explorer - covers a fraction of the following

Saturday, 18 April 2015


A proposal is being made by Argyll and Bute Council to operate scheduled services from their airport at Oban (OBN) to Barra (BRR). A 45-minute flight would be somewhat shorter than the sea-crossing. At present Oban is used for flights to Colonsay and Islay, Coll and Tiree. However, if services were also introduced to Glasgow then it would become something of a hub. There are plans, detailed in the Stornoway Gazette, to create a business park adjacent to the airport which is at North Connell, six miles north-east of Oban.

Scottish Islands Explorer -  acts as a hub of information

Friday, 17 April 2015

Pictish Finds

This stone with Pictish engravings was found on the Dunnicaer Sea Stack,  to the south of Stonehaven, in the 19th Century. It was then embedded in a wall at Banchory House. Some exciting recent finds on the sea stack are now coming to light as shown in an item and video clip on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - few off-shore settlements on Scotland's east coast

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Endurance Displayed

Would-be Soay visitors have limited opportunities to cross from Hirta in the St Kilda group of islands. Some authorities claim that there's a safe passage on only three days a year. The indigenous sheep have been there since 5000BC and until the 1930s were confined exclusively to the island. The young men of Hirta were tested for their rock-climbing skills on Stac Biorach and Stac Soay (below). There was no recorded climb by an outsider until 1883. 50 years later there were no locals to display their prowess.

Scottish Islands Explorer - challenges such as quizzes and crosswords

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Centenary Craft

The Dutch sail training ship, Tecla, arrived at Kirkwall last Friday and should now be on her way to Ullapool and Oban, if good weather has set in. This vessel was built in 1915 for fishing, carried cargo and now gives people the opportunity to learn the ropes. For the past few years she has circumnavigated the globe and later this year will be back in these waters to visit St Kilda. Read more about this tall ship in The Orcadian.

Scottish Islands Explorer - tall ships make good stories

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Ready for Dunvegan?

Here's the older jetty at Dunvegan, Skye, that has long been de-commissioned. However, to the north there is a good, sheltered anchorage and facilities for upgrading. Proposals have been made for this to become the terminal for the Lochmaddy service, leaving Uig to the north to connect with Tarbert. North Uist is only 18 miles away from Dunvegan which had regular sailings to Oban in the 1890s and a service to the Outer Hebrides until the 1950s. So see what has been suggested in this Stornoway Gazette item.

Scottish Islands Explorer - always ready for a revival

Monday, 13 April 2015

Gen-up on Unst

Read about the potential production of hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen by Pure Energy on the island of Unst. If the community can produce sufficient quantities, it can only be shipped / piped / pumped one way and that's southwards. Shetland News has the story.

Scottish Islands Explorer - printed in Hastings and so mainly goes north

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Dualchas Designs

Dualchas Architects was started as Dualchas Building Design in 1996 by brothers Neil and Alasdair Stephen. Three years later they were joined by Mary Arnold-Foster. Their designs have been gaining attention and winning awards. The Kayak House is above and, apart from its colour, appears to have the structure and location of  

The Golden Cabin, which was recently featured in a Daily Telegraph article. Read more and be ready to dream or, while in the master bedroom, realise your wish to live or stay in a remote location.

Scottish Islands Explorer - its kind of residence

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Linga Lingering

Linga , an island near Walls, Shetland, is 64-acres in extent, has been uninhabited since Captain James Fraser died in 1931, came onto the market last year and remains on the books of Solicitor and Estate Agent, Neil Risk. For full details, and an interesting six-minute long video, go to his website; for plenty of background information and images take a look at the Daily Mail item.

Scottish Islands Explorer - for the full range of islands sold and unsold

Friday, 10 April 2015

Three-View Preview

The aerial view of Great and Little Bernera, on the west coast of Lewis, has a certain appeal as does an aspect of Kirkibost Pier that is situated on the former. For a third image go to A Loom with a View and see whether you can picture yourself running your business from commercial premises for sale by Ken MacDonald & Co.

Scottish Islands Explorer - its premises are within a computer

Thursday, 9 April 2015

In Focus on Islay

For a fascinating look around Islay, go no further than its Photo Blog and take in what's on offer.

Scottish Islands Explorer - here's exploration with the lens of a camera

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Warmth and a Welcome

Even on the bleakest of days, the Butt of Lewis Lighthouse signals something reassuring, as captured by this Cody Duncan photograph. Visitors who have made the journey to the north of the island may feel like refreshment and nearby is a newly-opened tearoom, at Lionel. It's the appropriately named The Buttery and is sure, during opening hours, to provide both warmth and a welcome.

Scottish Islands Explorer - ready to refresh readers

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

A Good Look-Out

The Dwarfie Stane, Hoy, is some 5000 years old. It is, apparently, a good place to be in order to see a pair of breeding

 sea eagles. The last time they nested in this vicinity was 142 years ago. For details go to The Orccadian. So here's the place for an effective look-out.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aware of time-scales

Monday, 6 April 2015

Business, Power & Views

Two down; one to go. The three business units, promoted by the North Harris Trust, have tenants for two of the premises.. See who will be doing business, keeping overheads low with solar-powered energy and enjoying views - in a Stornoway Gazette item.

Scottish Islands Explorer - ready for a Monday start, like many other businesses

Sunday, 5 April 2015

The Westray 4

The work of four artists from Westray is being displayed at the Orkney Museum, Tankerness House, Kirkwall until Saturday 25 April. The island is 18 sq. miles in extent; has a resident population of 600; and among them are at least four artists who are inspired by aspects of their environment.

Scottish Islands Explorer - presents plenty to paint

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Golden and Rare

The Shiants are to be found in The Minch, some four miles off the coast of Lewis. Recently a rare plant, the golden-hair lichen, has been found there and lichenologists consider this location to be its most northerly habitat in the world. A BBC item supplies further details. Local myths often feature the Blue Men of the Minch or storm kelpies - some of whom had striking red hair.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a subscriber gained from a copy left in the bothy

Friday, 3 April 2015

Defence of the Realm(s)

It's a hard turn for HMS Diamond and there will be many similar, arduous manoeuvres during the forthcoming Joint Warrior Military Exercise for members of the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and British Army. The coasts of Scotland will see some of these bi-annual military operations taking place from 11 - 24 April, involving 55 warships and submarines, 13,000 personnel as well as representatives from 13 countries.

Scottish Islands Explorer - involves operations on a smaller scale

Thursday, 2 April 2015

A Sign of Change

It is now 17 years since the Scalpay Bridge was opened and the sign by this shop in Tarbert, Harris, became redundant. So a generation of children has grown up unable to recall when their island was not connected to Harris and comings and going became a matter of decision rather than planning.

Scottish Islands Explorer - records changes of lifestyle

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Power Assistance

These power-assisted, electric bicycles are assisting cyclists in The Lake District. Soon similar will appear for hire in Kirkwall - for visitors and residents. The Orcadian has the story.

Scottish Islands Explorer - most readers require no assistance