Monday, 29 February 2016

Lighting Up Stornoway

Chris Murray Photography shows how light is cast over Stornoway, while Melinda Gillen, Editor of the Stornoway Gazette, writes about the new businesses that will be lighting up empty premises in the town's centre.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has two retail outlets in the town
Digital Edition: reaches to any island community, easily

Sunday, 28 February 2016

In Depth on Sanday

Archaeological investigations of a most intensive kind will commence at Cata Sand, Sanday, next week. What was thought to be an extensive Bronze Age settlement on this Orkney island was initially uncovered last year. Read more in The Orcadian.

Scottish Islands Explorer - covers from geology and prehistory to current affairs
Digital Edition: perfectly replicated

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Lone Walker

This photograph of a lone walker on Tolsta Beach, Isle of Lewis, is from the latest BBC selection of images sent in by viewers during the past week.

Scottish Islands Explorer - tries not to walk alone, but likes readers' company
Digital Edition: can be accessed alone, without buyiing the print issue 

Friday, 26 February 2016

Heavens Above

Looking up at night has its rewards and West Highland Free Press reader, Ewen MacKenzie, has done just that.

Scottish Islands Explorer - well aware of both Skye and sky
Digital Edition: available through the internet and in the clouds

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Swan Trust Skipper

The Swan Trust has appointed a new skipper, Thorben Reinhardt, for its 2016 season with a new programme for sailing the restored fishing vessel, LK243. Here's a man and a boat that will be going places and Shetland News carries the details. Thorben will need to acclimatise to the transition between his customary assignments in the Caribbean waters and those at the convergence of the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aims to keep the same crew for '16
Digital Edition: internet-powered on a continuous basis

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Chess Pieces

This Lewis Chessman may not be looking best pleased, but a colleague of his, Berserker, has been been re-created in the National Museum of Scotland, using 90,000 Lego pieces. Read about it on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - contains well over 90,000 characters
Digital Edition:  available wherever chess is played

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Ferry News

There's good news for South Uist residents and visitors with CalMac making its service from Mallaig, on the Mainland, into an all-year round operation. The details are in an interesting Letter from Europe that looks at other features of ferrying in Britain and Ireland.

Scottish Islands Explorer - helps getting around
Digital Edition:  operates continuously day and night

Monday, 22 February 2016

Love or Leave?

Will it be 'Shexit', 'Orknexit' or 'Wexit' this time, when Shetland, Orkney and Western Isles residents vote in the EU Referendum? The result there in 1975 was 'Out' rather than 'In' and so the forthcoming 'Love' or 'Leave' decision will indicate whether changes of thinking have taken place in these island communities. An item on the BBC website assesses what will happen over 40 years on from that significant vote.

Scottish Islands Explorer - wants to be 'in' people's hands
Digital Edition: out there and always ready to be invited in

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Good to Google in Gaelic

When picking up a language, there's nothing like having a translation at hand. Scots Gaelic has now joined more than a hundred languages that are available on Google.

Scottish Islands Explorer - bi-lingual version not planned
Digital Edition: fluent in transcription

Saturday, 20 February 2016

The Missing One?

Here is the Iron Age Wheelhouse on Grimsay, which was photographed by Bob Jones. The island is one of the ten through which cyclists will be wheeling their way on the designated route through the Hebrides. It escaped me when compiling the blog for last Tuesday until one reader inserted a comment, but is home to 169 people. Some of them would just recall the time when Grimsay was not a stepping stone on the North Ford Causeway linking North Uist with Benbecula, but subject to the difficulties associated with tidal islands.

Scottish Islands Explorer - accustomed to linking islands
Digital Edition: the internet will bring it seamlessly to your device

Friday, 19 February 2016

In Top Ten

A poll of people's island preferences - among the British Isles - led to five Scottish ones being chosen. So Arran (pictured above), Mainland Orkney, Skye, Lewis and Harris have their devotees. Take a look at the Travellers' Choice.

Scottish Islands Explorer - feels justified as a publication
Digital Edition: can be acquired within seconds

Thursday, 18 February 2016

No Place To Be

The rocks of Skerryvore Lighthouse is no place to be in February .. in a yacht .. with no command of the English Language, especially when you are supposed not to have ventured beyond Norwegian territorial waters. That's where 35-year-old Russian, Evgeny Dorofeev, found himself on Tuesday and in need of rescuing. Read about it on the BBC website and feel grateful if you are safely at home.

Scottish Islands Explorer - March / April 2016 edition now in the shops
Digital Edition: ready to access now

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Miscellany of Images

This image of Seilebost, Harris, was taken by David May, but another, by Peter Maciver, appears on the gallery presented by the BBC in Your Pictures of Scotland 5  - 12 February. The one above gives that serene summer impression; the other was taken during the weekend of Storm Imogen.

Scottish Islands Explorer - covers islands in all weathers
Digital Edition: look for the free issue that's available

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Ten Islands in 24 Hours

Preparations for the 2016 launch of the Hebridean Cycle Way are being made. Go to the Stornoway Gazette item to read about Mark Beaumont's planned ride through the 185 miles, ten islands en route, in 24 hours. If you have trouble naming the ten, then return here tomorrow for a feature on what was, for me, 'the missing one'.

Scottish Islands Explorer - goes on a ten-plus island-journey in each issue
Digital Edition: cuts delivery-time from hours to seconds

Monday, 15 February 2016

Sands of Doomy

Here's an attractive way to spend a few minutes on a Monday - focusing on a beach with a distinctive name. Take a YouTube look, lasting under 60 seconds, at the Sands of Doomy on the west side of Eday. These Orkney images could set the tone for the working week ahead - serene and stimulating, expansive and enjoyable.

Scottish Islands Explorer - March / April 2016 issue out later this week
Digital Edition:  the new issue already available here

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Gold or Glaid?

There is a solid-looking stone on the summit of Great Cumbrae, 417' above sea level. It is not to be confused with the allegedly gold-bearing rocks that have recently been found and which are featured on the BBC website. However, it is known as 'The Glaid Stone' although its name derives from the Scots - glaid - literally for the common kite or, metaphorically, for a person of a greedy disposition who is prone to prey on others.

Scottish Islands Explorer - contains nuggets of information
Digital Edition: March / April 2016 issue is now available, ahead of the print form

Saturday, 13 February 2016

New Issues

The Summer Isles, photographed here by Angus Bruce, has been issuing its own stamps since September 1970. These 'carriage' sometimes known as 'Cinderella' varieties have currency on Tanera Mor, but need to be supplemented by Royal Mail stamps to get anywhere on the Mainland. The last issue was in 2013 and the next will be a week on Friday - 26 February. So find out more through the Summer Isles website check out the 2016 designs and be ready to acquire your own carriage-collection.

Scottish Islands Explorer - conveyed by the Royal Mail
Digital Issue: carried by the Internet

Friday, 12 February 2016

'Wonder of the World'

'The wonder of the world, the beauty and the power, the shapes of things, their colours, lights and shades; these I saw. Look ye also while life lasts.' [North Country Tombstone]

Make your morning by going to the section - From the Land Came the Memory - of the blog of Mark & Deb. It's a good read about the Outer Hebrides with images that will rock your sensations.

From the Berneray West Beach which, as they say, resembles a Japanese embroidery to gable ends on Vatersay and to the Gatliff Hostel with the most commanding of views.

Scottish Islands Explorer - tries to cover them all, at some time
Digital Edition: the current issue is there in full

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Seeking Protection

An application to grant European Protected Geographical Indicator (PGI) status has been made on behalf of North Ronaldsay wool and mutton. The seaweed-eating sheep of the most northerly Orkney island (below) have been considered distinctive for centuries, but their products now need to be 'ring-fenced' from brands that imitate. Read The Orcadian account and consider the work of aerial photographer Adrian Warren (1949 - 2011) who, alas, lacked protection against aggressive melanoma.

Scottish Islands Explorer - protected by copyright laws
Digital Edition: certainly worth considering

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Skye Shot

This fine blue-grey image of Skye from Lynne Kennedy Photography appears on Twitter and comes via the West Highland Free Press.

Scottish Islands Explorer - well aware of the range of colours
Digital Edition: looks radiant on smartphones, tablets, netbooks and computers

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Total Supplies

There's an occasional irony in timing - for when the Total innovators of the Laggan and Tormore gas fields first planned extractions, the price of fuel on the world markets was sky high. That no longer applies. However, the depths of the sea in the area to the west of Shetland - more the North Atlantic Ocean than the North Sea - started to provide significant amounts, starting yesterday. 8% of the UK requirements should be met. The BBC has the full story.

Scottish Islands Explorer - copes with all demands for island information
Digital Edition: powered through the internet

Monday, 8 February 2016

A School Imported

Going back to school on a Monday gives some pupils reservations, but facilities have improved over the years. Here's a reminder of what things could be like. There were 47 residents on Isle Martin, Loch Broom, Ullapool, in 1891 and by 1925 it was felt that the 'old school' needed replacing. So a hut from nearby Strahain was imported to the island and here was the 'new school'. It lasted until 1949 when the island became depopulated. The photograph of pupils, taken in the 1940s, below may be purchased from Ullapool Museum which re-opens for the new season on 25 March.

Scottish Islands Explorer - records changes as the years pass
Digital Issue: an annual subscription at less than the value of an old hut

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Visualising the North

Note the conference flyer as well as the dates before clicking onto the details of Visualising the North. There's plenty on offer for a Spring break for you at the 3rd International St Magnus Conference.

Scottish Islands Explorer - confers on comparable topics every eight weeks
Digital Issue: appeals to international readers

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Happy to Move?

Yesterday's item drew attention to the 'happiness factor' evident in the Scottish islands. So if it motivates you to consider buying a property to become a resident, an hotelier or a renovator, then consider a house being presented at a reported £40k below market value in Lemreway, South Lochs, Lewis;

an hotel with six bedrooms for a figure in excess of £365k in Pierowall, Westray;

and the lowest figure found in searches today, the requested invitation for offers over £20k for North Banks, Papa Stour, with a closing date of 25 February.

Scottish Islands Explorer - covers the Western and Northern Isles
Digital Issue: read on islands worldwide, at the same low price of £9.99

Friday, 5 February 2016

The Search for Happiness

Those who search for happiness should consider the researches of a team working at the National Office for Statistics. Their findings for the UK put island groups in the top positions for this attribute among residents. See the Stornoway Gazette for details. Pictured here are two places to consider - just a few miles apart as the crow (or whatever flies).  Above is Garyvard ('the poet's garden') and Kershader in the South Lochs of Lewis. Scenery, neighbours, a good road, shop, cafe and 24-hour petrol at the Ravenspoint Centre. Below is Eishken, with a large house, massive estate, fishing  and ... no neighbours in any direction.


Scottish Islands Explorer - a passport to happiness
Digital Edition: available at under a tenner

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Tagon Goes Lower

Tagon Stores at Voe, Shetland, has a reputation for being innovative. Almost four years ago their former owners reduced petrol to a then unbelievably low price. Today the same stunt is being repeated and the price quoted above is being beaten, but it's just for today. Go to Shetland News for the story and consider how the volume of water at Lower Voe (below) dwarfs the capacity of the two Tagon tanks, each with their 4000 litre capacity. Hurry along!

Scottish Islands Explorer - yours for four litres
Digital Edition: fill up for the year for £9.99

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Nacreous Clouds

Nacreous or mother-of-pearl clouds are usually to be seen in the Arctic and Antarctic as well as above Iceland and Scandinavia. Yesterday they featured in different parts of Britain. Those above are over Whitley Bay, Northumberland, and appeared in the Daily Mail. Those in The Orcadian were photographed by Jenny McElroy from Stenness, Orkney. It so often pays to look up.

Scottish Islands Explorer - endeavours to be down to earth
Digital Edition:  up there in the clouds

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Site at Sleat

Sleat, Skye, looks empty from this image, but there are 180 residents and they look forward to the completion - by Easter 2017 - of their £1.9 million community hub. The first sod was cut on the site last month and was reported in the West Highland Free Press.

Scottish Islands Explorer - looks forward to being sold there
Digital Edition:  costs a fraction of this and of its print subscription

Monday, 1 February 2016

One Thing After Another


Storm Gertrude leaves Shetland quietly and in comes ... snow. Reports (from Shetland News) come in about treacherous conditions despite these somewhat idyllic photographs. The one above above is not a current image, but from a Daily Mail feature during Easter; the one below of Lerwick, from Sea Road looking towards Hillhead/Scalloway Road, is from the gallery of Ben Mullay and was taken on 23 February 2010.

Scottish Islands Explorer - relates to the present and past
Digital Edition: Is there for you via the internet regardless of weather conditions