Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Forty Years On

An exhibition of photographs depicting everyday life of the late 1970s / early 1980s in Caithness, Orkney and Shetland will continue at Street Level Photoworks in Glasgow until 27 August. Here Tom Kidd captured a Sunday scene on Fair Isle. Take a look at the selection of images on the BBC website and just ponder how things have changed.

Scottish Islands Explorer - goes out, about and back in time
Digital Edition: then just a dream in the mind of an innovator

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

On Track and Remote

As the Thurso and Wick-bound train approaches Altnabreac, the most remote station in Britain, you could well imagine that it has crossed an expanse of water to reach an island. It has, in fact, traversed a section of the Flow Country, where roads have never been constructed. Last Saturday this stretch of track featured in the lives of Geoff Marshall and Vicki Pope, who arrived in Wick at the end of a project to visit all 2563 railway stations in England, Wales and Scotland. Follow them on All the Stations.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has its island-baggers too
Digital Edition: ready for all travellers to download

Monday, 21 August 2017

Photographic Treks

Here is an introduction to John McKenna Photography. He is an analytical chemist by profession and has something of the alchemist in his photography - by turning base subjects into compelling images. A photo-journalistic style was evident in his project, The Road to the Isles, in ongoing work involving treks around Japan and, within our shared location, when visiting the 51 permanently-inhabited Hebridean islands. Accompany him through his blog.

Scottish Islands Explorer - loves encountering fellow-enthusiasts
Digital Edition: an internet facility that is fast

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Beach Clean Stations

Sorcha Cantwell has a mission - to encourage the clearing of Scottish coastal beaches. She has recently been at work in the North-West, but her project is to set up Beach Clean Stations throughout Scotland.

Please read the full details of this remarkable Project and do take time to look at her Facebook entry as well as her Appeal.

The image above is of that iconic beach at Luskentyre on the Isle of Harris. It does not, at present, need cleaning, but could serve as a template for coastlines throughout the nation.

Scottish Islands Explorer - also driven by passion and mission
Digital Edition: pollution-free

Saturday, 19 August 2017

A Whisky Galore Bottle

Take a look at the bay on the Isle of Eriskay where the SS Politician came to grief and where a legend began. It continues today with the Stornoway Gazette covering the story of an original bottle coming up for sale in ... Cheshire. Some bottles do get around.

Scottish Islands Explorer - archive copies sometimes appear
Digital Edition: its range of availability is long; life tends to be short

Friday, 18 August 2017

Regeneration of Ruins

The perspective of looking down on North Ronaldsay is attractive; the prospect of renovating this ruined mill-house on the island is not so appealing. Look at the slideshow of images on Zoopla. Shelter Scotland has identified a significant number of such buildings on Orkney and the North Ronaldsay Trust has named 30 houses in need of complete rebuilding. Plans have been put forward and are detailed on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - uses the modern facilities of Buxton Press
Digital Edition: state-of-the-art transmission

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Speed of Stitch

The World's fastest knitter will be appearing at the International Festival in Inverness in mid-October. Between 2004 and 2008 Helen Tindall, who was born in Shetland and specialises in Fair Isle knitwear, increased her competitive speed from 255 stitches in three minutes to 262. Read more at the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - comes together quickly
Digital Edition: comes close to the equivalent of this woollen speed!

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

New Edition in the Offing

Here's the photograph - of Mid Thundergay Old Cottage and Kilbrannan Sound, Arran - that is featured on the front cover of the new issue of Scottish Islands Explorer. The digital edition is ready to be downloaded; subscribers' copies should be delivered today; retail outlets should have them on the shelves by Friday. Do remember that the word 'offing' refers to the stretch of water between the land and the horizon. Enjoy the view!

Scottish Islands Explorer - the next issue will mark 15 years in full colour
Digital Edition: accept this invitation to look 

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Three of a (Not So) Kind

You are looking into the depths in the Western Isles where Derek Mackenzie, Solicitor and Estate Agent has a wide range of properties for sale. Three of them are certainly different. There is a place to work - Harris Outdoor Adventure, at Leverburgh; a place that needs work - the five-bedroom Former Doctors' House at Gravir, Lewis; and a place that has worked - the Former Pumping Station overlooking Loch Gil Speireig Mhor (pictured above) at Achmore, Lewis. The asking prices spiral down from £139K, to £95k and on to £5k.

Scottish Islands Explorer - available at under £4
Digital Edition: yours for under a tenner a year

Monday, 14 August 2017


For an empty stretch of island coastline, consider the middle, eastern section of South Uist. The commanding point is the lighthouse

once serviced from the storehouse in the bay, photographed here by Marc Calhoun, who went on to make an intended brief visit to the Mountain Bothies Association outpost nearby outpost below,

but where he encountered a most unusual person, an unsociable and uncommunicative resident visitor. Marc made his excuses and left!

Scottish Islands Explorer - you need to have the explorer gene to visit Uisinish
Digital Edition: likely to be uncommunicative here as well

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Yell for Beer?

Running a small island business is not easy, especially when the owners live a ferry journey away and lifestyle trends change. Read the Shetland News article about the Hilltop Bar in Mid Yell and you realise the complexities of the retail trade and of finding new owners who want to continue doing business in the same way.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a high-interest, niche-market publication
Digital Edition: serves customers quickly

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Some of Scotland's Surface

It's time to take a look at more of Scotland through the BBC series Your Pictures. They feature images here from the first full week of August and are led by a compelling look at the beach at Balevullin, Tiree, captured here by Peter Dawson.

Scottish Islands Explorer - attracts comparable photographs
Digital Edition: soon to be updated

Friday, 11 August 2017

From Depth to Surface

From the depths of Scapa Flow to, at least, the surface of your screen, comes a picture of the German battleship. the Markgraf, scuttled by its own crew after the end of the First World War. Its the first 'echosound' image of its type and the details are to be found on the BBC website.

Scottish IslandsExplorer - surfaces every other month
Digital Edition: the same type of technology at work

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Trust in the Kirk

There are a wealth of features in this Orkney kirk which will soon be preserved and promoted as a visitor attraction in Burwick, South Ronaldsay. Read about the St Mary's Preservation Trust on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - promotion, not preservation, always needed
Digital Edition: soon will be piping the next issue worlwide

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Shetland Sights

There are views of Shetland - such as this one of the tombola at St Ninian's; there are companies that will take you there - like McKinlay Kidd; and there is a range of Webcams to enable you to experience many features ahead of putting your foot on Shetland soil.

Scottish Islands Explorer - will encourage you to go north and west
Digital Edition: taking items and images to you directly

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Colonsay Grand Tour

Colonsay and its neighbouring tidal island, Oronsay, are considered to be the most revisited of the Scottish islands. They exercise appeal, as does the lavishly-illustrated (48 photographs) article on Geograph by Julian Paren. If you have yet to experience the many features of these islands - from Cable Bay (above) to the Strand between Colonsay and Oronsay (below), at least take the 'grand tour' on your computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone screen. Just click here and go.

Scottish Islands Explorer - from this blog with its 4,500 visitors daily
Digital Edition: has attracted over a thousand downloads

Monday, 7 August 2017

From Devon to Heaven?

Here are two images showing the bridge to Scalpay from North Harris. It features in an article in the Daily Telegraph where the advantages of living 'off' the mainland is assessed. One couple mentioned left their North Devon home five years ago to settle here and continue to cherish their move. Others chose Alderney and the Isle of Man.

Scottish Islands Explorer - focuses on visiting, not settling
Digital Edition: available on islands everywhere

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Orcadian Exotic

Yesterday saw the opening of a new facility on Orkney - the Fernvalley Wildlife Centre. It will be the home of a range of exotic creatures that are certainly not indigenous. Go to The Orcadian to see them in their new habitat near Tingwall, in the former parish of Rendall. This account of the venture involving Lisa and Gill Farrer is worth reading, just as the centre is well worth visiting.  

Scottish Islands Explorer - always looking for something different
Digital Edition: enables visitors to find from afar, fast

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Honesty Box to Tearoom?

There is a remarkable facility at Aith, Shetland - a commercial-scale honesty box for home-baked produce. Applications have been made to 'expand' the venture from a capacious box that is well-filled to that of a tearoom, capable of accommodating 20 customers. Read on at Shetland News.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a magazine with capacity for pleasure
Digital Edition: published to supply the world's needs

Friday, 4 August 2017

Underway on Uist

The Islands Book Trust Conference is underway and to learn about its topics and themes go to the Stornoway Gazette ... unless you can reach St Peter's Hall, Daliburgh, South Uist, in time.

Scottish Islands Explorer - endeavours to be out on time
Digital Edition: prompt dispatch; instant reception

Thursday, 3 August 2017

One Hundred Years On

When the Royal Navy's newest aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, sailed into Scapa Flow yesterday, it was part of a tribute to Edwin Dunning who there, a hundred years ago, had performed the first landing of a plane on a ship, HMS Furious. The Orcadian carries the story.

Scottish Islands Explorer - lands successfully on doormats, worldwide
Digital Edition:  does similar on screens everywhere

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Sunny Side of Shetland

July saw something significant by way of weather. Shetland clocked up more hours of sunshine than Cornwall. See how the BBC website has covered this phenomenon.

Scottish Islands Explorer - helps create sunny dispositions
Digital Edition: travels to you at the speed of light

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Summer Isles by Canoe

On this first day of August it certainly sounds attractive to take a trip to the Summer Isles. Going by canoe and exploring some of the sea caves and arches as well as raised beaches give it that added twist. At least read the account by Calum, but do note that his Hamlet Mountaineering entry was published in mid-January.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has regularly featured these isles
Digital Edition: difficult to receive deliveries in caves