Friday, 31 March 2017


Something for the weekend? Here's a property topic to dream about - The Tinhouse on Skye which appears to be the perfect retreat for two. It also has a website which will fill your screen with amazing images.

Go to the BBC website to put it in architectural context, for it is one of 27 contenders for the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) 2017 Awards.

Scottish Islands Explorer - imagine running the magazine from here?
Digital Edition: a perfect electronic companion

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Washed Up Well

When a sailor on the Maersk Iowa, a container ship that's over 300 yards long, throws overboard a bottle containing a message and an email address, he or she hopes for the best in these circumstances. It turns up over 1400 miles away, on a beach in Sollas, North Uist, and is found by the owner of a gift company, Coralbox, based on Berneray. The story is there to be uncorked in the Stornoway Gazette.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has been salvaged from the sea on occasions
Digital Edition: can be found on shores everywhere

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Delve and Dive

It may look a little dark here, but the BBC website has some colourful images of the sea-caves of North Rona and St Kilda. These are difficult-to-reach islands, especially the former, and so click on here to delve into the topic and dive into the water.

Scottish Islands Explorer - exists to delve
Digital Edition: dives through the internet to your outlet

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Rona Ridge

Above is a view by the Northern Light Cruising Company of a bay off the Fianus Peninsula at the north end of North Rona. It was taken from the ridge which runs along the steep cliff towards the automatic light. Recent interest has been directed to the Rona Ridge, a sub-maritime geological formation to the west of Shetland, where Hurricane Energy has located a significant oil-find. Read about it in yesterday's edition of The Times and make out what you can of it from the 3D diagram below.

Scottish Islands Explorer - always drawn towards this ultimate destination
Digital Edition: continuously draws on the material of the print edition

Monday, 27 March 2017

An Ultimate Campsite

The head of Loch Resort, at Kinlochresort, is an ultimate place to camp - for it's in a part of  North Harris that is difficult to access, but which has a distinctive history. The house in the background is kept in good condition by the Estate, but being under canvas has that special appeal. At least that's how the photographer, Marc Calhoun, felt, for it is his tent.

Scottish Islands Explorer - feels an affinity with this area
Digital Edition; probably too far off the beaten track for connections

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Changing Technologies

There's a nice contrast on the Churchill Barrier, Scapa Flow, Orkney, of the mast of a wreck and a wind-turbine - where one technology has replaced another. The photograph was taken by Ray Hammond.

Scottish Islands Explorer - often reflects on changes
Digital Edition: now in the forefront, but will be replaced

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Winter Over

Spring is here, at least officially, and it will be marked by the presentation of a fine winter image of trees taken by Alan Boswell. Just nine months to go before it begins all over again!

Scottish Islands Explorer  - well aware of the seasonal cycle
Digital Edition: revolves around different criteria

Friday, 24 March 2017

Riptide / TripTide

A riptide is a hazard, for tidal currents can flow strongly in restricted places. It may bring out sightseers, but does not provide conditions of safety. Travellers often wish to explore the sights, expand their knowledge through websites, experience with effective insights. A new company, TripTide Ltd, has been launched to help and direct people by widening their horizons and combating hazards. It currently focuses on London, but its business model could well apply to the Scottish islands, where we all need help from one another to discover more. Take a look ... here.  

Scottish Islands Explorer - another portal for discovery
Digital Edition: as well as a means of fast access

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Prominent and Prolific

Some properties just stand out - as does this self-catering establishment at Overby, Yell, Shetland - and some people show prolific interests - as does Andrew Dishington Matthewson (1799 - 1887), the first headmaster in East Yell. In a sense his career involved teaching for over 80 years. Read more in Shetland News about this astonishing schoolmaster who took duties on himself while still a 'master' - in the juvenile sense.

Scottish Islands Explorer - reaches its majority next year
Digital Edition: has years ahead of it

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Orkney Roastery

There must be readers of this blog whose introduction to coffee was through Camp (i.e.chicory essence) before being invited to instant powder and then on to granules.Then the 'real stuff' appeared on the scene in bean form. Now ultimate varieties have come to Orkney through its newly-opened Roastery. Read about it on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aware of changing tastes
Digital Edition: and of different ways of accessing

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Top Shop in UK

Norwick Beach, Unst, is another example of a high-end location with exciting sea and sky formations. Another exciting development on this, the most northerly of the British isles, is the opening of The Best of Unst - an online shop that markets unique products from the island in the Shetland group. Do have a browse and then read about the retail story in Shetland News. Looking for that distinctive, different gift for Mother's Day? - then look up for it!

Scottish Islands Explorer - would also appeal to some Mothers
Digital Edition: plenty of time to acquire this version of the magazine

Monday, 20 March 2017

High- and Eye-Catching

Anything about Fair Isle tends to catch my eye. I visited it in June 1999 and that was just six months before Scottish Islands Explorer was launched in January 2000. Little did I realise that our paths would cross. Take a look at the website of the Fair Isle Development Company with the photographs of Dave Wheeler - for perhaps your path will cross with what it offers?

Scottish Islands Explorer - has evolved over 17 years
Digital Edition: has been innovated

Sunday, 19 March 2017


For images of Vallay House (above) on its own island go to Flickr and for an account of the life and times of its former owners click on to the Nothing To See Here blog.

Scottish Islands Explorer - plenty to see here
Digital Edition: delivered within seconds

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Unexpected Perspective

I had pictured Millport, the only settlement on the relatively small island of Great Cumbrae, to have a cramped setting. I should have seen the above image by Iain Campbell, from the current BBC Your Pictures of Scotland Gallery, before visiting. The photograph below also shows the expansive perspective of the Millport Esplanade.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aims to be intensive and expansive
Digital Edition: uses the full range of the internet

Friday, 17 March 2017

New Storing

You would not think it, but there is a shortage of space - for the 'storage' (aka parking) of cars relatively close to Skye's Old Man of Storr. Soon there may be provision for vehicles and people's needs with monies set aside to create facilities for visitors. Read all about it in The Press and Journal.

Scottish Islands Explorer - packing, not parking, required
Digital Edition: a complete package electronically delivered

Thursday, 16 March 2017

This Island Life

Despite the waves at Yesnaby looking fierce, Maggie Fergusson takes a calm, detached and enthusiastic view of Orkney, which she considers to have a special kind of peace. Read her article, This Island Life, in the current edition of The Economist 1843 - a new magazine of ideas, lifestyle and culture.

Scottish Islands Explorer - well aware of the Northern Isles' attributes
Digital Edition: Orkney was a hub; now it's technological

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

The Scottish Bothy Bible

The images are of of An Claddach Bothy, Islay, and of Maol Bhuidhe, east of Plockton between Glen Carron and Glen Shiel. Imagine staying at the above in sunny weather; coming across the below distant 'residence' in the remotest of country. For a taste of such places, do go to the BBC website and learn about The Scottish Bothy Bible by Geoff Allan from Wild Things Publishing. It's a compelling book, imaginatively-illustrated, durably-produced and reasonably-priced at £16.99. Get ready to get out and experience some of the simple things of life.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a range of island-bothies are ready for you
Digital Edition: access to this service could be difficult from some bothies

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Columbarium Coming

The broch on Mousa, Shetland, looks impressive and has made an impact on a farm owner in Thornbury, Gloucestershire. He is replicating it - an Iron Age fortress - within a memorial woodland garden. The structure is known as a columbarium - the Latin for dovecote - and is featured in an article in The Times.

Scottish Islands Explorer -  distributed in both Shetland and Gloucestershire
Digital Edition: replicates the print edition ... plus

Monday, 13 March 2017

Three for Two on Top

Looking for work, as a qualified GP, and wanting to get to the top? There are vacancies for a trio of doctors on the Shetland Isles of Unst and Yell. Some details are in the Press and Journal; the images here focus on Muckle Flugga at the northerly end of Unst and on Gutcher, the northerly ferry terminal on Yell.

Scottish Islands Explorer - always vacancies for subscribers ...
Digital Edition: ... some of whom get access in seconds

Sunday, 12 March 2017


From a ploughed field, close to the Maeshowe chambered cairn in Orkney, emerged a 5000-year-old axe-head. It was discovered recently by Gill Tennant, an amateur archaeologist. Discover more on the STV website about this find that surfaced.

Scottish Islands Explorer - surfaces six times a year
Digital Edition: can be discovered by barely looking

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Mysterious and Lonely

Ann Cleeves writes traditional crime fiction and has a passion for islands. Here in a Daily Telegraph feature she selects what she considers to be Britain's 10 Most Mysterious Islands. Within the article is a compilation of Britain's 15 Loneliest Places. Here's something different for the weekend.

Scottish Islands Explorer - always focuses on some remote places
Digital Edition: accessible even off the beaten track

Friday, 10 March 2017

Renewable Functions

The Regeneration Capital Grant Fund has awarded £500k to the Orkney Research Campus as part of the project to bring new life to the Old Academy, Stromness, and a former primary school. Among the work to be undertaken on the campus will be the exploration of renewable power methods. Read more in The Orcadian.

Scottish Islands Explorer -  regenerates / researches / renews interest
Digital Edition: makes the recent immediate

Thursday, 9 March 2017

House of Peace

In last weekend's Financial Times, Merryn Somerset Webb considered the ups and downs of owning a Scottish island. She concluded that if you were still interested it may be worth considering the House of Peace on the islet of Valasay, (above) off the island of Great Bernera, in turn off the Isle of Lewis. So take the first step here - by looking at a Country Living article and then, for the full details, go to the website of estate agents, CKD Galbraith. The Weekend Edition of the FT costs £3.80; the House of Peace could be yours for a little over £310k.

Scottish Islands Explorer - sells in newsagents at £3.95 per issue
Digital Edition: yours for £9.99 for six issues

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Stranger Than Fiction

Writers of fiction have been drawn to the Isle of Lewis. It is different - in being relatively remote with a quiet environment as well as a steady pace of life, has an uncompromising landscape and has long been a stronghold for observing the Sabbath. Several novels and short stories have the island as a setting. Now the recent death of one of its best-known residents, the Free Church of Scotland minister, the Revd Dr Iain D Campbell, age 53, has revealed that truth can be stranger than fiction. The topics of drug overdose, suicide by hanging, accusations of having seven mistresses from within his congregations and the employment of a public relations consultant by his widow, Anne, are given wide coverage in the national press. Read the item carried by The Times yesterday.

Scottish Islands Explorer - focuses on both current and past topics
Digital Edition: it travels as quickly as news itself

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Dialect Disappearing

There is evidence that the distinctive call of those corn buntings in the Western Isles is disappearing. There are, apparently, only 76 territorial males of the variety in that part of Britain and they have to vary the sounds they make as they seek females from further afield. Read about the research undertaken by a team from Aberystwyth University on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - no variations in its call sign of 'read me'
Digital Edition: finds room-mates fast

Monday, 6 March 2017

Why Go?

Why go, in person, to Skara Brae or 25 other highly-visual sites around Scotland when it's possible to see them without getting cold, waiting in queues or even going out? The offer of a virtual visit via a new app devised by Edinburgh Napier University is available through VisitScotland. If the views are remarkable, the kit and headset are worth considering.

Scottish Islands Explorer - in some ways saves visiting
Digital Edition: all part of the same process

Sunday, 5 March 2017

A Bevy of Bothies

Yesterday's blog considered a converted bothy on Coll. Today's images are of the exterior and interior of the Mountain Bothies Association building at Usinish on the deserted east side of South Uist. Then there is another comparable place that has been renovated for private use - The Doctor's Bothy, North Uist. If you want to read of a range of Phoebe Smith's favourite bothies, go to Cicerone Press. Finally, there is an article on the pastime in The Independent. There's sufficient to be getting on with here, even for a Sunday.

Scottish Islands Explorer - would help to pass the time there
Digital Edition: hard to access from some of these places

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Lost to Luxury

 Yesterday's blog featured a former school converted to comfortable family-use on Islay. Today's focuses on a 'lost' building, a derelict bothy on Coll, that last year was resurrected to a standard for luxury-living. Turn to The Scotsman to reveal the background to a transformation.

Scottish Islands Explorer - also a transformation, but over 18 years
Digital Edition:  has upgraded the magazine to a new hi-tech echelon

Friday, 3 March 2017

Go Gortan

There was a spate of school-building following the passing of the Education Act in 1872 and the building above was constructed at Gortan, Islay, in the 1880s, on the shore of Loch Indaal, below. 90 years later it was declared redundant and closed, with generations of local pupils having passed through its doors. New generations are now welcome to use it for holiday accommodation and many will be attracted by its informative and well-illustrated website. So go to the Old Gortan Schoolhouse, at least virtually.

Scottish Islands Explorer - delivered to current and former schools
Digital Edition: an instant educational innovation

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Lewis From On High

The Stornoway Gazette carries a gallery of photographs by Iain Maciver showing various views of the Isle of Lewis from the air. Above is the Port of Ness.

Scottish Islands Explorer - usually contains an aerial view
Digital Edition: exists in the clouds

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

TrixPix Beatrix Mix

Beatrix Wood is an artist and film-maker who runs her own production company, TrixPix, from a croft in South Uist. She is featured in the West Highland Free Press and the story of her life and times that brought her and her family to the island seven years ago is fascinating. Her previous homes certainly show a mix of environments - from Manchester to London, rural Finland to Cornwall. Last week's blog-item on the ways in which the internet has brought a new dimension to a music teacher in North Uist is extended here.

Scottish Islands Explorer - also a part of the region's innovations
Digital Edition: driven by similar new dimensions