Saturday, 31 October 2015

Nomadic Boulders

The strong currents of the Pentland Firth regularly roll rocks around the sea bed and these rounded, nomadic boulders have become the focus of an art work. They are part of the re-vamping of the John O'Groats site and may be viewed on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - rolls around the Atlantic Ocean and North Sea

Friday, 30 October 2015

Nor(th)way by Mailboat

Two very different images have a connection - for a St Kilda Mail Boat launched at the end of August from the most distant of the Western Isles was discovered at Sotra on the west coast of Norway early this month. The details of the voyage from a former Gaelic settlement to a thriving Nordic destination are to be found in the Stornoway Gazette.

Scottish Islands Explorer - makes the most of connections

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Owl on Oil Rig

An exhausted owl came to rest on a North Sea oil rig and was flown, with returning crew members, to Aberdeen. Then the bird was transferred to Alloa, where it is recuperating. The details are in The Herald.

Scottish Islands Explorer - oil rigs are miniature, man-made islands

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Any Takers at £25k?

Windhouse in Mid Yell Shetland has been on the market for some time. Outline Planning Permission

was granted for renovation work in 2001, but only preparatory investigations were carried out.

As you get closer to the property the magnitude of the task grows. However, do take a fuller look

through the website of the newly-named agents, Harper Macleod LLP and ponder on the £25k asking price.

Scottish Islands Explorer - offered at a thousand times less at £24.97 per year

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Some Fares Down

Yesterday saw a decrease in the fares of certain ferries on the CalMac routes in the West of Scotland with the implementation of more Road Equivalent Tariffs (RET). Go to the BBC item in order to compare with what you may have paid up to last weekend.

Scottish Islands Explorer - at the same price for the past  two-and-a-half years

Monday, 26 October 2015

Drone Beached

 Take an expanse of beach, such as that of Baleshare, North Uist, and there's often nothing to break the symmetry of sand, sea and sky. However, last week a drone came ashore and indicated something of the outside, less peaceful world. The details are to be found in a BBC item.

Scottish Islands Explorer - tries to complement, not intrude

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Memorial for 'Keepers?

The geograph image of the steps and old railway track to the Flannan Isles Lighthouse is a reminder of the mystery that happened there 115 years ago when the three resident lighthouse keepers disappeared. Plans are being made, and are reported in Hebrides News, for a memorial to be created on the shoreline at Beasaclete, Lewis, close to the keepers' shore station at Cnoc Mor. Another reminder is the opera, The Lighthouse, by Peter Maxwell Davies that combines a detective mystery and ghost story.

Scottish Islands Explorer - no mystery about its appearance dates

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Shetland and Whaling

A new book, Shetland's Whaling Tradition - From Willafjord to Enderby Land, by Laureen Johnson is being launched this weekend. The development of the now defunct industry  led to whaling stations, such as the one at Ronas Voe, pictured above, being set up locally as well as Shetlanders pursuing their trade worldwide. Read about it in Shetland News.

Scottish Islands Explorer - small islands attracted leviathans

Friday, 23 October 2015

Unusual Fetlar Sale

The residential complex and chapel that is for sale at Aithness, Fetlar, commands a remarkable position and a history that is unique. The Society of Our Lady of the Isles was founded in 1988 and was a convent in the Protestant rather than the Roman Catholic tradition. The details from the estate agent need to be read in conjunction with the item in Shetland News. There is scope here for a large distinctive house, a  family home, a retreat centre or a tourist attraction. The guide price of £255k takes into account that Fetlar is a three-ferry island - to Shetland Mainland, to Yell and then the final stage.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aware that this a special place

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Argo's to Aldi

When you produce a product with appeal - such as Caramel Shortcake - there is a strong chance that retail outlets will increase. Argo's Bakery, with a store (below) in Stromness, Orkney, has been in business since 1940. Recently it has come to the attention of

the German supermarket, Aldi, and its shortcake will be on sale in the discount grocer's 62 Scottish stores. Read about the award and deal in The Scotsman.

Scottish Islands Explorer - it, too, has seen one thing lead to another

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Leaping Salmon

The profits of Grieg Seaford Hjaltland, Shetland's leading salmon provider, leapt from £148k in 2013 to £5.2 million last year. Read in Shetland News about this astonishing turnaround in the fish farming business by the Norwegian company.

Scottish Islands Explorer - not in this league of profit-making

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Just One

The population of Boreray in the Sound of Harris reached 152 in 1891, but by 1923 all residents, bar one family, were evacuated by request. For almost 40 years - from the 1960s - it was uninhabited, although from 1999 it has had one permanent resident, Jerry Cox. See more of the island through Marc Calhoun's website, including a photograph of Boreray in the St Kilda group taken from this 489-acre island.

Scottish Islands Explorer - sales are not high here

Monday, 19 October 2015

Ready for a Rousay Ruin?

There are always properties for sale and usually at least one person who feels that they are right for residence or renovation. Here at Brinian on Rousay, Orkney, are the Old and New Kirks. The former is for sale at a price of £28,000 and is featured in the property section of The Orcadian. The image below is from that fascinating website - geograph - which aims for a photograph from every grid square. Will there be a taker for the ruin on this square?

Scottish Islands Explorer - the new edition is in the shops

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Back, Barvas & Broadband

The provision of superfast broadband connections is beginning to spread through the Isle of Lewis. Homes and businesses in parts of Back and Barvas are now able to access the innovative technologies. The Stornoway Gazette provides background information.

Scottish Islands Explorer - its digital edition is hi-speed  

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Cereal Killers

The Barony Mills at Birsay, Orkney, will be one of the places visited when 15 representatives attend a meeting of the Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme Cereals Project. Details of this organisation and its purpose are in The Orcadian.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has only a three-word title

Friday, 16 October 2015

Now An Hour

CalMac's service between Ullapool (above) and Stornoway is proving increasingly popular. To such an extent that congestion has become an increasing feature at the ports. The company now requires vehicles to be ready to board one hour ahead of departure, an increase of 15 minutes. See the Stornoway Gazette for details of the change.

Scottish Islands Explorer - in demand, but without queuing

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Wir Shetland

When these Shetland ponies - on Unst - grow up there could be a different political world around them. A new movement - 'Wir Shetland' - has been launched and proposes self-governance on the Falkland Islands pattern. Read about it in Shetland News and consider visiting the isles through a bespoke guided itinerary promoted by the company that provided the photograph.

Scottish Islands Explorer - also independent and self-sufficient

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

New Series

There's a new series on Scottish Islands starting on BBC. You may need iPlayer to catch up with Paul Murton on Foula and Fair Isle, but it could well be worth watching.

Scottish Islands Explorer - its archive CD enables catching up to be done

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Foreshore Sheep

The 13-mile dyke on North Ronaldsay was designed to keep the island sheep on the foreshore. Here their seaweed-eating habits give the resulting mutton a special flavour. The process is in danger because the storms of December 2012 damaged sections of the wall. An Action Plan is being drawn up and details are in The Orcadian.

Scottish Islands Explorer - also has a protected, monopoly position

Monday, 12 October 2015

Shetland and the Great War

The War Memorial at Haggersta, Shetland, commemorates those who died in the First World War. A new book, by Linda Riddell, entitled Shetland and the Great War, has been adapted from her PhD and entwines the local, national and global aspects of the conflict. It is fully-detailed in Shetland News.

Scottish Islands Explorer - commemorates people and places

Sunday, 11 October 2015

John Norgrove of Uig

John and Laura Norgrove are photographed near their home in Uig, Lewis, by Murdo MacLeod for The Guardian. John will be giving this year's Angus Macleod Memorial Lecture at The Old School, Balallan, on Thursday 22 October. Full details are presented by The Islands Book Trust.

Scottish Islands Explorer - recommends this event

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Capering Across

The image of the Northern Lights captured by John Vetterlein and published in The Orcadian is prefaced by a fascinating headline 'Merry Dancers Caper Across The Milky Way'. Read more both here and there.

Scottish Islands Explorer - also springs into life, on occasions

Friday, 9 October 2015

Crofting Roadshow

The sheep appear to be 'as old as the hills' while the modern crofthouse on Coll is not. Learn more about the background, techniques and future of crofting at a Roadshow. It's been to Lairg, Lerwick and Stornoway, but there's time to catch it in Fort William, Thurso and Portree.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has taken time to develop

Thursday, 8 October 2015

False Catshark

Here is an unusual specie - a false catshark caught in the Indian Ocean. Turn to the pages of the West Highland Free Press to see one that was captured, surveyed and relesed 40 miles to the west of St Kilda at a depth of about 3000'.

Scottish Islands Explorer - pleased that its readers are not rare

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Jenny Gilbertson

There will be an opportunity to view screenings of some of the work of pioneer film-maker, Jenny Gilbertson (1902 -90) at Shetland venues on Sunday and Thursday of next week. She focused her attention on 'Northern Outposts' - from Shetland to the tundra areas of Canada. An assignment at Grisefiord, 900 miles into the Arctic Circle, was undertaken by her, aged 76. Details of the film events are in Shetland News.

Scottish Islands Explorer - also features northern outposts

Tuesday, 6 October 2015


Researchers from Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, will be presenting an exhibition and investigating people's views about the social, cultural and historic significance of Kirkwall Airport and the communities that it serves. There will be some who recall the days when it was RAF Grimsetter, as in the post-Second World War image above, and others for whom 'changing planes at Grimsetter' (the title of the photograph below) was a significant event in their lives. The details are outlined in The Orcadian.

Scottish Islands Explorer - links the past and present

Monday, 5 October 2015

Post Ice-Age

An archaeological dig at Staffin, Skye, has yielded many finds which give a glimpse of the lives of the first settlers following the Ice Age. Insights are available through an item in the West Highland Free Press.

Scottish Islands Explorer - looks above and below

Sunday, 4 October 2015

North-West to Westminster

The discoverer of the North-West Passage, Dr John Rae, will be honoured at a service in Westminster Abbey today. The Orkney-born explorer's achievements are featured in The Orcadian.

Scottish Islands Explorer - acknowledges a hero

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Grind of the Navir

Climbing the Grind of the Navir in Shetland can be undertaken safely only in calm conditions. Take a look at what things are like when it's not.

Scottish Islands Explorer - appears in all weathers

Friday, 2 October 2015

Gaelic Stats

The 2011 Census has revealed significant information about the extent of the Gaelic language in Scotland. Details are to be found in the Stornoway Gazette.

Scottish Islands Explorer - remains monolinguistic

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Ringing Up Numbers

There are times when the old phone boxes look neglected. However this one -on Canna - came into its own recently when big numbers started ringing up. Go to The Scotsman.

Scottish Islands Explorer - use or lose, like everything