Thursday, 14 December 2017

New Life in Old Manse?


The Old Manse dates from the late 1600s, is reputedly the oldest inhabited house in Lerwick, has six bedrooms, a double garage, mature garden, is right on the shore and has a guide price of under £400k. If the prospect of a new life in Shetland appeals, take a further look here.


Scottish Islands Explorer - likes to speculate about property
Digital Edition: takes you places regardless of location

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

IBT Books Free Postage

Here's an offer from the Islands Book Trust relating to free delivery on orders up until a week today. Time to take advantage?

Scottish Islands Explorer - delivery factored in
Digital Edition: comes at speed with pin-point direction

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Present Time


Enjoy the photography of Karen Thorburn that features as the centrefold of the new edition of Scottish Islands Explorer. Go a stage further, if you are already a digital subscriber, and use the new Digital Edition App to purchase presents of the magazine for family and friends. It's a snip (with many snaps) at under a tenner for a year. If not already a subscriber, then access below.


Scottish Islands Explorer - keen to be known
Digital Edition: the place to get started

Monday, 11 December 2017

Be Ahead


The Skidbladner is a replica Viking longship to be found at Haroldswick, Unst, Shetland - which is at the head of the country, with just three miles or so beyond to Muckle Flugga. It features on the cover of the new edition of Scottish Islands Explorer which will be in the shops a week today, on subscribers' doormats by the end of the week, but available as a Digital Edition now. Take a look and, perhaps, make a purchase.

Scottish Islands Explorer - like the longship, travels far
Digital Edition: like the longship, launched early

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Leverburgh Lifeboats


Leverburgh's old-style Mersey-class lifeboat will be replaced in the Spring of 2018 by a Shannon-class vessel currently being built at Poole, Dorset. It is powered by waterjets rather than propellers, having the flexibility of speed and shallow-water working. This makes the craft ideal for operating out of the Sound of Harris and around its distinctive coastlines. Full details are in the Stornoway Gazette.


Scottish Islands Explorer - rescues some readers' interests regularly
Digital Edition: operates speedily in virtually all conditions

Saturday, 9 December 2017

A Full-Day Single


The empty, secure and peaceful-looking elevated road, high above Stromness, Orkney, must have been a welcome sight for some passengers on the MV Hamnavoe which had docked at the pier yesterday morning soon after 09.00. Their arduous journey from Scrabster had started almost 24 hours earlier and involved a long extension of the usual 90-minute crossing and an overnight stay in the sheltered waters of Scapa Flow. It was a 'day single' to which many will not wish to return. Of the 750 visitors to this blog, some 600 clicked onto the item for further details,  such was the interest, sympathy and, in some cases, empathy with the passengers.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a safe way to experience the islands vicariously
Digital Edition: calmly rides the airwaves to reach you

Friday, 8 December 2017

'Not the Best Day to Sail'


Ian Fraser commented on Twitter that this was 'not the best day to sail.' His understatement is backed by the quiet tone of the report in The Orcadian. Here was a 90-minute ferry-journey that started yesterday morning at 10.05 in Scrabster, Caithness, and which will possibly end at Stromness, Orkney, within 24 hours. However, it's likely to be longer with all dependent on the winds.

Scottish Islands Explorer - not accustomed to delays
Digital Edition: internet assisted, seldom obstructed

Thursday, 7 December 2017

4G Rolls On


Earlier this week the prospective closure of the branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland at Castlebay, Barra, was announced. The ATM will be retained to dispense cash at all times. One reason given for the change is the popularity of internet banking. Yesterday the Stornoway Gazette featured an item on the ways in which 4G mobile network coverage has been rolled out over many parts of the Highlands & Islands and how more hubs will be added. So it's a matter, perhaps, of being 'cut off' in one sense and 'included' in another.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aware of what technology offers
Digital Edition: puts it into practice

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Caution About Caroline


The number of personnel on the Ninian South Platform, to the east of Shetland, is around 160. Some 70 of them are being helicoptered off as a precaution concerning the arrival of Storm Caroline tomorrow. So some huge seas could be experienced by the remaining 90. It's intriguing to see these figures in relative terms - for the population of Coll is about 164, but these residents live on 7,685 acres of land. Some difference. However, read more about the imminent threat to the platform, on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - subscriber distribution is also different
Digital Edition: operates above and through storms

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Love Scottish Islands


The Stones of Callanish, Isle of Lewis, and many other interesting features around the Scottish islands are likely to be promoted by Lee Allen through his fascinating website Love Scottish Islands. Take time to visit and sign up for in-depth recommendations.

Scottish Islands Explorer - looks from heights as well as being down-to-earth
Digital Edition: all conducted through the internet

Monday, 4 December 2017

Cava Caveat


There is a lighthouse on Cava in the Orkney group, but no houses fit for habitation. The recorded population fell to two in the 1991 Census, but in the new millennium reverted to its 1961 level of none. However, read the item by Amy Liptrot on uninhabited islands in the Orkney archipelago. You will soon be in the picture about the ways of depopulation.

Scottish Islands Explorer - likes to see records of habitation
Digital Edition: would like many island inhabitants to log on at next-to-nothing

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Forecasts in Detail


A new radar station on the Isle of Lewis can detect the size of snowflakes and raindrops according to the BBC website. For further details of the installation, go to the Stornoway Gazette. Here is an explanation of why the crow is more significant in this location than the robin.

Scottish Islands Explorer - tries to get under the radar with some of its items
Digital Edition: on very much the same frequency

Saturday, 2 December 2017

No Bank Branch on Barra?


Things certainly look quiet at the Royal Bank of Scotland branch in Castlebay, Barra. There are around 1100 residents on the island and, apparently, they do not bring sufficient business - so the building could be replaced by a visiting mobile bank. The growing popularity of internet banking linked with ATMs (automated teller machines) is an international trend and there are many people throughout Brtiain who, despite having many choices, never set foot in a bank branch. However, the announcement of possible closure may lead to a surge of use here. Read more on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - closure not imminent
Digital Edition: attracting new readers worldwide

Friday, 1 December 2017

Moving up the Scales


Peter Fletcher, from Nottingham, selected the old fish processing factory at Kirkibost, Great Bernera, Lewis, for his state-of-the-art music recording studio. It officially opened two days ago and hopes to attract professional and gifted musicians as well as some create employment for those wanting to learn about the techniques of  capturing sound. The details of Black Bay Studio are in the Press and Journal.


Scottish Islands Explorer - loves new ventures, especially on coastal sites
Digital Edition: aware of the latest technologies

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Orcas in Lerwick Harbour


Here's the Shetland News account of killer whales in Lerwick Harbour last Tuesday and a YouTube clip of a pod in the same vicinity last April.

Scottish Islands Explorer - surfaces every two months, with a splash
Digital Edition: appears whenever required

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Splang to Life


It's time to bring a little splang or sparkle to your Gaelic and the pronunciations associated with it. The Skye Times has details of the development of a new app, using speech recognition, that will assist in learning the language. Braw Media, the developers, asked for markers to indicate where in the world there was interest and 770 responses came from 54 countries.


Scottish Islands Explorer - paper and digital versions only ... so far
Digital Edition: address pocketmags and download

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Shore Settlers


There are beaches on the same latitude as south Norway where people find pleasures, but not all the year round. For these sheep on North Ronaldsay, it's their home. The attractions of the island are well displayed on the VisitOrkney website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - finds its way to most of the islands
Digital Edition: available on all inhabited islands

Monday, 27 November 2017

Channel Traversing


For an account of the exciting journey through the narrow passage between the St Kilda islands of Hirta and Soay, go straight to Marc Calhoun and the section of his Exploring the Isles of the West. His details and images are compelling. He traversed the channel with Northern Light Cruising.

Scottish Islands Explorer - enjoys going to ultimate points
Digital Edition: takes you far from a device at hand

Sunday, 26 November 2017

An 'On-Shore Island'


When settlers came from the Northern Isles, they understandably named a vast stretch of the Mainland, 'Sutherland'. A division occurred when a Pictish tribe - the Cat or Catt People - dominated a large area of land with its headland close to John O'Groats. The land boundary followed natural watersheds and the sea encompassed the rest. Caithness was officially recognised in local administration in the late 19th Century. There is certainly something of an 'on-shore island' about the county and recently there has been a campaign to award 'island status' for at least its health service provision. Read about this on the BBC website and take a wider view of the local features in the website where Old Keiss Castle (above) appears - Loch Watten House.

Scottish Islands Explorer - mainly about off-shore islands
Digital Edition: crosses both boundaries and borders

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Wildlife on CalMac


There is always something grand about viewing CalMac ferries going about their business. Passengers and crew often have the opportunity of seeing wildlife in marine and shoreline locations. Consequently, the company has appointed a Wildlife Officer to encourage knowledge and the pleasures of sightings. Read about this interesting appointment on the BBC website.


Scottish Islands Explorer - maritime and marine connections made
Digital Edition: constantly broadcasting

Friday, 24 November 2017

Kirkwall - New Insights


Here is Kirkwall from on high and with reflections in its basin. More insights are available in a new book which is featured in The Orcadian.


Scottish Islands Explorer - often calls at the main Orkney settlement
Digital Edition: why not treat yourself on Black Friday?

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Head for the Cloud


A winter-storm on a Shetland shore is a reminder of the need for shelter, especially when waves and clouds combine. Businesses too need shelter from the vicissitudes of commerce. One method is to use the benefits of the 'Cloud' through the internet and Shetland business-owners are being invited to a workshop on this topic next week. The details are in Shetland News.

Scottish Islands Explorer - managed through the Cloud
Digital Edition: operates globally from on high

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

House, Gallery & Studio


Yesterday's blog featured a property that could have served a writer. Today's consists of a three-in-one deal in which a house, gallery and studio are offered for £350k at Garyvard (the poet's garden) in the South Lochs area of the Isle of Lewis. Artists have been accommodated here for several years and the estate agent, Ken MacDonald, is right to stress the unique aspect of these purpose-built facilities.

Scottish Islands Explorer - always on the lookout for the unique
Digital Edition: will deliver on time

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Panoramic View


Here's what could be a writer's dream - a one-bedroom cottage ... on an island ... commanding a 180 degree view to the west ... with sunsets as the bonus to a fulfilling day's work. It's on West Yell, Shetland, is new to the market with offers over £75k. See what this property at Everhoull has to offer.

Scottish Islands Explorer - always looking out for stimulating locations
Digital Edition: wifi takes you far

Monday, 20 November 2017

Studio Specials


Here is the Mission House Studio, Finsbay, Isle of Harris, the workshop of Beka Globe Photography. Do take a look at her work and consider the 30% discount, plus special draw, on books and prints available until Monday 4 December.  Ask for details and mention this blog.


Scottish Islands Explorer - will take you far
Digital Edition: available from farthest points

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Severe, but Spectacular


There are many sides to Foula - from the facilities of the harbour at Ham to the outline of Gaada's Stack. The life and times of the settlement are captured in this BBC Travel item which leads with the words - 'Severe, but Spectacular' - and contains memorable imagery.


Scottish Islands Explorer - to the ends of the British Isles
Digital Edition: broadband eliminates distance

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Resourceful on Rockall


There are ultimate destinations and sources of in-depth information. This group from the Scorpion Expedition on Hall's Ledge, Rockall, have achieved an ambition, shared by many, of sitting on perhaps the most inaccessible spot in the British Isles. Their adventure can be watched in a brilliant YouTube clip. For a full analysis of Rockall, and its adjacent Hasselwood Rock and Helen's Reef, go straight to the dissertation by Ondrej Danek. These outposts are well covered by the author.


Scottish Islands Explorer - getting well away
Digital Edition: goes to the ends of the Earth

Friday, 17 November 2017

Best in 17 Years


Mingulay was abandoned by its human residents in 1912 and its bird numbers have fluctuated ever since. However, the National Trust for Scotland, which manages the island almost at the end of the Outer Hebridean chain, reports the best season in 17 years for guillemots and razorbills. The BBC website carries a report 

Scottish Islands Explorer - enjoys rises in numbers
Digital Edition: is experiencing them

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Village for Sale


There's a 'holiday village' in Elgol, Skye, on sale through Strutt & Parker. Take a look at what Mary's Cottages have to offer as an investment for letting as well as living.


Scottish Islands Explorer - some investment potential
Digital Edition: low price entry level

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Space for Ship


There has long been a replica Viking ship looking down towards the whole nation from the top end of Unst, Shetland. Now there is a move to bring the launching of space-crafts, maybe space-ships, to the island. Consider what's proposed from the BBC website. Soon Unst visitors may have a complete view of the whole country?

Scottish Islands Explorer - fills its spaces with island material
Digital Edition: has a permanent presence in space

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Sanday School


The two figures on the school sign represent half the number of pupils who, in the last school-year, attended the primary school on Sanday, serving Canna on the Small Isles. Now all four children from one family have gone and the school has been 'mothballed'. There are just 17 people residing on Canna and Sanday. Quite an opportunity for schooling with a difference. Read about it on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - numbers holding up
Digital Edition: subscribers racing ahead

Monday, 13 November 2017

New Era for Tanera


A chance encounter yesterday at a cafe on the shores of the Mediterranean led to meeting a relative of a former owner of Tanera Beag, one of the Summer Isles. Research followed and the discovery, missed in the Summer, that Tanera Mhor, the largest of the island group, had been sold after being on the market for exactly four years. The details are here and the new owner is Ian Wace, co-founder of Marshall Wace Asset Management, a London-based hedge fund. There's a new era ahead for this holiday haven in 2018.

Scottish Islands Explorer - last sold almost eight years ago
Digital Edition: currently trading in the ether of the internet

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Knitwear Resurgence



Yesterday's item drew attention to the resilience of trade in candles. Today's focuses on the resurgence of knitting as a creative activity as shown at a weekend event in Lerwick. Go to Shetland News for details.

Scottish Islands Explorer - printed publications maintain appeal over the years
Digital Edition: comparatively recent, but with growing appeal

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Essence of Harris


There's a family-run, candle-making company on the Isles of Harris that is going places internationally. See what Essence of Harris offers and read the report on their progress in the Stornoway Gazette.

Scottish Islands Explorer - illuminates island interests
Digital Edition: powered by the internet

Friday, 10 November 2017

Virtual Visitors Arriving


The St Kilda archipelago is marked here. In the background are Hirta, where people lived permanently until 1930; Soay where landing is extremely difficult and the sheep are feral. Closer to the plane from which this photograph was taken are Stac an Armin and Stac Lee, occasionally climbed by intrepid 'Marilyn-baggers'; Boreray, thought to have been permanently uninhabited until recent discoveries. The last is the smallest Scottish island with a summit of over 1000ft. It is also the focal point of a video game which is detailed on the BBC website. So virtual visitors are assured.

Scottish Islands Explorer - print and electronic; not video
Digital Edition: the modern way to absorb such places at St Kilda

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Box of Books Discovered


A member of The Islands Book Trust staff was clearing a space when a hidden box of books was discovered and some previously out-of-stock publications were back in print. They were advertised and some shrewd buyers purchased at original prices. See what's still available here.

Scottish Islands Explorer - some back numbers remain available
Digital Edition: once converted to this version, always on offer

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Cover Photo


This image by Shetland-based photographer, John Moncrieff, was selected as the cover for the British Wildlife Photography Awards' book. Read about and see more of his highly-commended work in Shetland News.

Scottish Islands Explorer - encourages a bi-monthly head-to-head
Digital Edition: makes contact as quickly as these puffins

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

The Mustheb Story


Read the story of Heike Winter in the Stornoway Gazette and you will learn of a notion that evolved into a business plan and then into production as well as marketing. All being well, Mustheb will reach your table before transfer to plate and palate.

Scottish Islands Explorer - keen to be involved with enterprises
Digital Edition: takes business ideas to international markets