Sunday, 31 January 2016

Make Sunday Special

If you have ever heard hymns sung in Gaelic you may well want to purchase a CD for £10 (with £1.50 post and packing) through this Church of Scotland website. They have been produced by members of the Kilmuir and Stenscholl Parish in North Skye. Buy now and your future Sundays will have a different dimension.

Scottish Islands Explorer - believes in making changes
Digital Edition: the annual subscription fee is a penny less than the CD

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Hitting the Hundreds

Here's a satellite view of Storm Gertrude bringing fierce conditions to the North coast of mainland Scotland and the southern parts of Orkney. According to the information on various news channels, there were gusts of up to 110 mph in Shetland and 144 mph on the east Cairngorms. The highest ever recorded, but classified as 'unofficial', was of 177 mph in 1962 at RAF Saxa Vord, Unst. The photograph of a rugby match here at Saxa Vord, with the most northerly recreation ground in the UK, was taken in 1972 when the players obviously found it just a breeze.

Scottish Islands Explorer - would like to hit record circulation
Digital Edition: is there come wind or rain, without leaving home

Friday, 29 January 2016

Cold War to Storm Force

RAF Aird Uig, north-west Lewis, is to be transformed from a Cold War spy base to a listening station for whales. It's part of a development to attract visitors by the Gallan Head Community Trust. The details are on the STV website and the official handover of the former installation takes place today. There will probably be no need to listen out for the signs of weather as Storm Gertrude is forecast to impact imminently with this exposed headland. At least the gates will not be closed.

Scottish Island Explorer - listening out for more readers
Digital Edition:  always ready to be downloaded

Thursday, 28 January 2016

The Outrun

The Outrun by Amy Liptrot is a compelling series of autobiographical insights concerning addiction and recovery. Much of the former took place in London; the latter in Orkney and on Papa Westray, in particular. Consider looking more into the book through Amazon.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has some addictive qualities
Digital Edition: offers much at a reasonable price

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Thirsty Work

The Up Helly Aa Fire Festival is underway in Shetland with the burning of replica Viking boats

to herald the re-appearance of the sun after the winter interval. So much marching and intense

heat means that the need refreshment and re-hydration has to be heeded. Read the BBC item.

Scottish Islands Explorer - unsold copies could have their uses

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Design for Centre

Plans continue for the building of the St Kilda Visitor Centre / Ionad Hiort - at Mangersta, Isle of Lewis. The specialist design company, Metaphor, has been appointed to undertake the work. Read more about the arrangements in the Stornoway Gazette and see more of Metaphor, in general, and their Aston Martin Visitor Centre, in particular. When were the words 'St Kilda' and 'Aston Martin' last used in the same sentence?

Scottish Islands Explorer - design features are on-going

Monday, 25 January 2016

Georges Dif (1946 - 2015)

Do take a look at the obituary of Georges Dif, naturalist, ornithologist and photographer (aged 69) in Shetland News. His passion for the island group gives us something to dwell on.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aware of The Land of Winds

Sunday, 24 January 2016

The Sketch

Study the profiles of Stac Lee (above) and of Boreray and Stac Armin (below) in the St Kilda Archipelago. The pinnacles could well have inspired a hand-drawn sketch which became the motivating feature in a short (seven-minute) film The Sketch. Just click on and view. This YouTube presentation should be looked at in conjunction with a visit to GotoStKilda. You will not be disappointed and, at least, part of a Sunday could be well spent.

Scottish Islands Explorer - motivates adventures and expeditions

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Killer Whales Off Lewis

This Orcinas orca or killer whale is a particularly lively member of an orca pod to be found off Lewis and which, last Monday, was photographed by Martin Ramsay, a fisherman from Shetland. A number of the dramatic images he captured appears on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - jumps for joy about such shots

Friday, 22 January 2016

Be a Monach for a Day

In the late 16th Century, the population of the Monachs could, apparently, raise 20 men of military age. Then soon after the new century opened, in 1607, the five-mile stretch of sand linking these 'islands' with North Uist, was washed away by a tsunami. Some residents survived and settlement was evident for over 300 years into the 1930s, when the island lifestyles failed to appeal to a new generation and numbers suddenly dwindled.

The once-abandoned Shillay lighthouse operates again, the house (top) once occupied by Lady Grange is still evident and the old schoolhouse on Ceann Ear, the main island, remains intact, although the village is a ruin. The Old Norse name for this group is Heisker, the bright skerry. Your opportunities to visit are bright, if you move swiftly.

Some enthusiasts for islands have chartered a boat leaving Leverburgh, South Harris, for a day-trip on Thursday 5 May. There is a limited number of spaces available. Contact Alan Holmes without delay for details or for securing a place.

Scottish Islands Explorer - discover current copies while you can

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Wind Wanted?

This is a 'ruin under offer' at £27k and is to be found on South Ronaldsay, Orkney. The prevailing westerlies are a feature of Scottish islands and so the name of the property has a double edge - Windmill, South Windwick. Take a look at what someone has secured, at least for the present, through estate agents, D and H Law or Drever & Heddle.

Scottish Islands Explorer - spots properties with potential

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

My Scottish Island

Tanera Mor has been in the news recently as an island on the property market. Now comes the opportunity for ownership to become part of your portfolio or that's what was featured on an attractive website.

Find out more, enjoy the experience of looking at a stunning website and consider whether this could be the place for you and your family. Go to My Scottish Island, but be prepared for disappointment as the company behind the venture failed to settle its account with the team behind the website. It appears that the island will remain with its family owners, not with the prospective purchaser.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a small-scale ultimate purchase

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Recorded Memory

Angus Peter Campbell, poet, writer, journalist and actor, was born in South Uist in 1954, lives in the Kyle of Lochalsh and will be spending time during the next year at the National Library of Scotland. He has won a prestigious award and will be finding out more about how Scottish themes, past and present, have been written about in English and Gaelic and explored through memory. The Stornoway Gazette has the story.

Scottish Islands Explorer - copies are housed in the Library's archive

Monday, 18 January 2016

Fourth Time

Gairsay, in Orkney, had a population of 71 in 1871 which fell to 3 by 2011. It is 593 acres in extent and 335' at its highest point.

There is a pier in Millburn Bay that is protected by the main island on one side and the Hen of Gairsay on the other.

There has been a house some half-mile to the west, at Langskaill, from early times that was lavishly developed by Sir William in the 17th Century. It fell into decay until new owners renovated it, but after the Second World War it was abandoned.

The present owners purchased the island 1971 and the house, constructed for the fourth time, is pictured above with its private jetty, The Taing.

Scottish Islands Explorer - develops gradually

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Sanday to Eday and Back

Here's a property perspective. Buy this house at Little Lonnie on Sanday, Orkney, for £60k, and enjoy views over to

Eday where's there's a plot of land for sale at Brandyha' for £38k with views towards Sanday. The former has a half-acre plot; the latter is almost nine acres. 

Scottish Islands Explorer - gives plenty of change out of £100k

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Soay Sheep: Our Survival

These Soay sheep appear to be perched precariously on Hirta, the main island in the St Kilda group. However, the ways in which they soak up Vitamin D is a helpful indication to human beings. The sheep certainly outlasted men and women, who requested evacuation from the island in 1930. Read about vitamin status and reproductive success in The Times article. Maybe the animals' existence is not so precarious?

Scottish Islands Explorer - keeps on reproducing every eight weeks

Friday, 15 January 2016

Yesterday's Child

Inverness-born, Christina Morrison, who lived for half of her life on Skye, has died, aged 96. She was a code-breaker in Whitehall during the Second World War and details of this phase of her life, together with those of her childhood, are to be published next month in her first book, Yesterday's Child. A short account of her activities is on the BBC website; her forthcoming book may be ordered, pre-sale, through The Islands Book Trust.

Scottish Islands Explorer - authors presented; code-breakers admired

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Lighthouse Signals

They were designed to help people and a new idea could extend their service. With the coming of 4G mobile phone coverage, high places are needed to house relay-equipment. The Stornoway Gazette reports on an idea that could be feasible for transmission in the Western Isles and along the West Coast - more for passing visitors, perhaps, just like the lighthouses themselves. The Butt of Lewis stands above; Rhue, at Ullapool, below.

Scottish Islands Explorer - signalling, in its way

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

The Shetland Flyer

These aerial photographs of Shetland certainly fascinate and have a fun element, but for Rory Gillies they need to be a source of funding.

Take a low-level look at the item in Shetland News which is about how an inventive person wants to get an innovation off the ground.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aims for various interesting angles

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Outrun on Orkney

Here's an acclaimed first book, by Amy Liptrot, and how The Independent featured it. The photograph has a London feel, but the biographical account focuses on Orkney.

Scottish Islands Explorer - appreciates explorations of the mind

Monday, 11 January 2016

Barvas Buyout

Things have happened on the west side of the Isle of Lewis. Look at an item in The Scotsman from last February and then see a recent one on the BBC. The Barvas Estate ownership moves from a family to the community.

Scottish Islands Explorer - remains in family hands

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Up Helly Aa

It's that time of year when, after the customary festivities, comes the traditional season of Up Helly Aa in Shetland. Read and see what happened in Scalloway, beginning the day before yesterday when the clouds cleared.

Scottish Islands Explorer - some copies end this way

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Drink and Think

We have been reminded of the Government's recommended drink limits this week. Here's a suggestion about thinking and drinking - consider the 162 Scottish islands of over 40 acres that are the 'Strangeways Range' particularly if you have the good fortune to be sampling the new Cask Range from the Fox Fitzgerald Company. Find out what has happened through Andy Strangeways himself.

Scottish Islands Explorer - ready to sample as well

Friday, 8 January 2016

Two Funerals & An Isle

The funerals take place this coming week of the widows of two former residents of St Kilda. On Monday, at Chelmondiston, near Ipswich, there will be the funeral of Ivy Gillies (88) who died at the same age as her husband, Norman John Gillies (1925 - 2013). He was, as a child, evacuated from the island in 1930 when all its inhabitants left.

On Tuesday, in Fort William, there will be the funeral of Nancy MacDonald (97) widow of Lachlan MacDonald (1906 - 1991) whose photographs of what was then the most remote permanent settlement in the British Isles formed the basis of St Kilda Snapshots, published by The Islands Book Trust.

Scottish Islands Explorer - marks the passing of generations