Sunday, 31 May 2015

Hiking and Hitching

Here's man engaged in doing something differently. Arjen Ulrich is 'walking' from this home in The Netherlands to New York City - or at least tracing an aircraft route where possible at ground level.  He is currently in Shetland, having travelled on foot through Belgium, France, England, Wales and the mainland of Scotland. He should, by now, have found accommodation in Yell and Unst, but he needs to hitch a lift from a trawler or boat to the Faroes and then do similar in Iceland and Greenland. Anticipation of walking through Manhattan in August or September keeps him going. Read, see and hear more in Shetland News.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has subscribers on the ground en route

Saturday, 30 May 2015

A Pit, Strip and Chapel

Lamb Holm, an island linked by the Churchill Barriers in Scapa Flow, Orkney, appears from this photograph to have just three significant man-made features. They are the quarry pit used for the construction of the causeways, a grass airstrip, and the Italian Chapel. A Frenchman was relieved to reach it earlier this week after a two-day flight from Paris in a home-made aircraft. Some details are on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - flies occasionally, but in purpose-built craft

Friday, 29 May 2015

Kenneth Toop

Kenneth Toop (second from right) has died, aged 91. He was a 16-year-old Boy sailor on the HMS Royal Oak that was sunk in Scapa Flow, with the loss of 834 men, in 1939. He was a stalwart in attending the annual memorial service in Orkney and this photograph, with fellow-survivors, was taken in 2006. Further details appear in The Orcadian.

Scottish Islands Explorer - reports and records

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Ultimate Shelters

These beehive dwellings are in the vicinity of Hamnavay, close to the Aird Bheag Estate featured earlier this week. They are described in his book by Marc Calhoun, who, during the last few days, has been in that area again, but this time visiting the most remote of these simple shelters, at Bothan Ruadh. We look forward to learning more and to seeing the photos. They will save us a long journey.

Scottish Islands Explorer - ready to go anywhere, especially via technology

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

New Lease of Life?

Turn to The Scotsman for an item on a proposed distillery to be situated in the derelict Victorian hotel, Borodale House, Raasay. The plans are to create 11 jobs - that will be almost 10% of the current resident population of 120 - on this island of 24 square miles situated off Skye. Accommodation and a visitors' centre will also be provided, if planning permission is given.

Scottish Islands Explorer - looks forward to featuring this facility

Tuesday, 26 May 2015


It's worth returning to the Aird Bheag Estate, Isle of Lewis. Above is an interior shot of one bedroom in the house while below is the expanse of some of the 2754 acres. However do go back to the Knight Frank website (via yesterday's page) or on today's YouTube view from a helicopter - going south to Scarp and back with Loch Resort to the east. Even more compelling is to stay on, after the nine-minute ride, for the next feature where suburbs, towns and transport links in and beyond London are featured. The company could be marketing different planets!

Scottish Islands Explorer - makes light of arduous journeys

Monday, 25 May 2015

Two Views of An Estate

The Aird Bheag Estate to the west of Uig, Lewis, has come onto the market with 2,754 acres and an asking price in excess of £375k. The full details and a fine gallery of images can be seen by clicking onto the website of Knight Frank. They indicate that access is by boat or helicopter. If I recall from a visit on foot to the house featured above, the route was trackless. However, Marc Calhoun writes clearly about and illustrates his trek to the settlement on Loch Hamnavay (below), presenting some memorable features of a place that is certainly 'at the back of beyond'.

Scottish Islands Explorer - will cover anywhere within the hinterland

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Three Hours ... or Minutes

The Old Man of Hoy is not quite as old as it looks and until relatively recently was part of an arch. The weather had a role in reducing it to one-legged status. The RSPB advises three hours for the journey while we have a special trip of three minutes (plus some 23 seconds) via aerial views taken by Jason Baxter and available through The Orcadian.

Scottish Islands Explorer - keeping up on, if not over, islands

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Back in the Day

Here the pupils at Loch Croistean School, Uig, in 1959.  Their identities will be revealed in the June issue of Back in the Day, published by the Stornoway Gazette. Their school was built in about 1875 and continued for just over a hundred years.

Following 30 years of disuse it was purchased and converted into a coffee shop and tea room by Marianne Campbell. The story of her acquisition of the property appeared in The Sunday Times.

Scottish Islands Explorer - every building (and issue) tells a story

Friday, 22 May 2015

Smooth Surface?

The former ferry crossing to Eriskay from South Uist could occasionally be 'bumpy' - now the connecting causeway has as smooth a surface as possible. That 'smooth surface' does not extend to the island's football pitch, as illustrated on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has smooth surfaces of high paper quality

Thursday, 21 May 2015

See Swona

The grass looks lush on Swona, in the Orkney group. It was inhabited from about 500BC until 1974 when its last residents moved away. They left a herd of beef cattle which have survived and become feral. About 17 creatures are to be found on the 227 acre island with a population in the mid 19th Century of over 50. Take a look around through a YouTube presentation.

Scottish Islands Explorer - monitors changes; records the passing of lifestyles

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Long Life

A quarter-acre piece of land, with planning permission, is yours for £27k through the Hebridean Estate Agency. It's at Urgha, on the road from Tarbert, Harris, to Scalpay. The Inverness Courier carried an interesting piece about a 112-year-old man who led an active life - born near Uig, Lewis, in 1734 and dying in Urgha. Once he had settled there, he never ventured far.

Scottish Islands Explorer - content to cover the islands

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Flagging the Difference

Last Sunday was ... Norwegian Constitution Day and celebrations took place throughout the world from Seattle (above) to Shetland (below). The formal independence of Norway from Sweden did not occur until 1905, but the concept of a nation goes back until the first millennium. Followers of Scottish Islands Explorer may be interested that one of its main stockists is Conochies, in Commercial Street, Lerwick, where the parade took place.

Scottish Islands Explorer - sold in shops throughout the UK

Monday, 18 May 2015

Basic Distinctions

The use of the word 'skydiving' on this site has been corrected. It should refer to jumping from an aircraft, not from, for example, the sea-cliffs of Foula or, as here, from the sea-stack of the Old Man of Hoy. These activities are 'base-jumps' and BASE refers to descending from a fixed point such as a Building - Antenna - Span - Earth.

Scottish Islands Explorer - likes distinctions about distinctive pleasures

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Runic Reads

Rune Rede - an annual event - will be attracting an international audience to the Highlands & Islands' Centre for Nordic Studies in Orkney for three days, starting next Thursday. Catch up with what's happening through the typeface of The Orcadian.

Scottish Islands Explorer - values clarity of content and design

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Skydiving Sensation

This is a sensational activity in which to participate, albeit vicariously through a video clip, on a Saturday. Two skydivers go to The Nose, Nebbifield, Foula and undertake their base jumps. Read all about it and go along with them through an item in Shetland News. You will not be disappointed ... alarmed maybe!

Scottish Islands Explorer - flies off the shelves ... occasionally

Friday, 15 May 2015

On the Edge

If you have a few moments to spare or an hour to sit back and enjoy, consider dipping into the BBC Coast - Outer Hebrides programme. It will transport you literally and metaphorically to these many islands 'On the Edge'. As David & Margaret Gartside say, "It will whet the appetites of those visiting the islands this summer or compensate those who can't make it this year." The image is of a typical stretch of the Lewis coast.

Scottish Islands Explorer - always ready to stand and stare

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Jaws Hunters

"We're coming to get you!" The Great White Shark may well be hunted - for research purposes - off the Hebrides. Read how 'occasional vagrants' of this fearsome species are stirring interest by accessing The Herald. Then consider the depth of your interest.

Scottish Islands Explorer - always ready to venture ... so far

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Sands of Sound

The Shetland Nature Festival will be held from 4 - 11 July and there is much to inspire. See what's on and consider the exploration of the Sands of Sound (above) and the investigations of the Our Dynamic Earth team who will be looking for rock crystals and much more. The piece from Balta Sound (below) certainly has appeal.

Scottish Islands Explorer - revelations about the lands on islands

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Work or Play?

The erection of two tents at Pairc Niseaboist, Horgabost, is one thing, but the construction of the West Harris Community Enterprise Centre there is something different altogether. Read about this prospective venue, restaurant, office / business / studio / exhibition area in the Stornoway Gazette. When the play-ground becomes the work-space, something has to give. The views, however, will remain.

Scottish Islands Explorer - imagine this as its view from the office-window

Monday, 11 May 2015

See Birds and More

The Third Orkney Nature Festival begins on Wednesday. Some events are fully-booked already, as symboloised by the queue in today's image, but much remains to be explained and explored.

Scottish Islands Explorer - prepared to wait in line for the story

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Twin Otter Spotter

A tip-off led to a visit to the Twin Otter Spotter website and to an item on two brand new aircraft, now parked at Glasgow Airport ready for service on the Campbeltown, Tiree and Barra routes. One is pictured here during trials in Canada and, with its 'twin' will replace the two 30-year-old aircraft currently employed.

Scottish Islands Explorer - ready to receive the flag at at least two island airports

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Making Your Mark

British Airways flights can  have an advantage for those who like to see landmarks. The airline's magazine High Life is asking people to nominate their favourite formations and the Old Man of Hoy has come into the frame. Make your mark by finding out more at The Orcadian.

Scottish Islands Explorer - plenty to choose from here

Friday, 8 May 2015

Almost Wiped Out

Alex Salmond has spoken about 'the roar of the Scottish Lion' following yesterday's General Election results. However, this dog, outside a polling station in the Orkney & Shetland constituency was not fazed. Its owner may have helped the Liberal Democrats retain their only seat in Scotland when Alistair Carmichael, the sitting member, lost 20% of his 2010 votes, but was still the victor by 41.4% to 37.8%. That shows something of the 'island difference' - and, perhaps, many voters not considering this to be a part of Scotland? Labour retained one seat, in Edinburgh; the Conservatives held on to their one, in the Borders.

Scottish Islands Explorer - devoted to these parts

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Looking Up and Beyond

Looking up from a campsite at Calgary Bay, Mull, and beyond from Quirang, Skye, are two of the island photographs featured on the BBC's Your Pictures of Scotland. Take in the panorama - for as votes are cast across the country so there are views to cherish.

Scottish Islands Explorer - devoted to recording denoted areas

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Frost in Spring

The weather of winter has continued for weeks beyond its usual patterns in the Outer Hebrides. The temperatures at the beginning of May in Stornoway were at almost a record low. Dr Eddie Graham gives an account of the features at around the Gaelic festival of Beltain (the first day of May) and explains what has happened.

Scottish Islands Explorer - at a constant temperature except when lying around

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Royal Princess Coming

The Hatson Pier, Kirkwall, will be welcoming the Royal Princess later this month when the vessel, with a potential of 3,500 passengers, will be visiting Orkney. It's one of the 83 visits by cruise ships during the course of the season. The details of this annual invasion are in The Orcadian.

Scottish Islands Explorer - prospective purchasers throng the streets of Kirkwall

Monday, 4 May 2015

Weekend for Birth Days

It was a weekend for a Royal birth in London and for a ewe to produce triplets at Cunningsburgh. The latter is the lead picture in today's Shetland News while the picture below is of another lamb born earlier at a croft in Aithsetter, Cunningsburgh. It must be Spring-time.

Scottish Islands Explorer - some six weeks wait for the next issue

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Waiting and Waulking

Life in the Outer Hebrides is the title of a 15-minute film made in 1941 by the British Council. It focuses on a family waiting for a sailor to return from an Atlantic war-time skirmish and shows how the women of a Western Isles settlement

continued to work at the production of Harris Tweed and the crafts of spinning, dyeing, weaving and waulking. The film is almost 75 years old and its colour has an authenticity. However, its presentation has dated considerably. David and Margaret Gartside located this item in the archives.

Scottish Islands Explorer - it too will look dated by the end of this century

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Four-Minute Ferry

Easdale is about eleven miles south of Oban. In its heyday, as a producer of slate for roofs throughout the British Empire, there were 500 working in seven quarries. The last cuttings were made in the 1950s and within ten years the population of the island had fallen to four. Now it is has become the smallest of the Inner Hebrides with a permanent resident population and that numbers a remarkable 60. Their access is by the ferry with its crossing-time of four minutes.

Scottish Islands Explorer - continues to quarry away at information and illustration

Friday, 1 May 2015

Kelp for Keeps

The old Kelp Store at Nouster, Papa Westray, has been awarded further funding from the Orkney Islands Council for the second phase of turning it into a heritage and craft centre. Past as well as future artefacts will be kept here and draw attention to island life. Details are in The Orcadian.

Scottish Islands Explorer - heritage recorded in crafted publication