Wednesday, 21 March 2018


The Visitors' Centre at the Torabhaig Distillery on the Sleat Peninsula, Skye, opened last Monday. Here's a chance to take a look around before sampling - with each tour limited to eight people and lasting for 45 minutes at £10 a head. The distillery has been fully operational since January 2017, making a single-malt Scotch whisky.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a well-distilled product
Digital Edition: contains the spirit of the magazine at speed

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Fund Fair Isle Heat

Fair Isle, where Scottish Islands Explorer was first published in 2000, can be bitterly cold. However, residents do not have to don traditional knitwear products every time they visit their Community Hall, although there are occasions when dressing up in warm clothing is needed. The boiler is not functioning properly and funding has become necessary. Read about it in Shetland Times and if you feel able to help, please donate.

Scottish Islands Explorer - remains cool until opened
Digital Edition: travels through ether to reach readers

Monday, 19 March 2018

Ulva Buyout

The ferry to Ulva could be coming to fetch you to live on the island. At present only six people, including the landowner, live there. The plans are for more to take up residence if the community group that is interested can raise the money to purchase. The Scottish Land Fund has announced an award of £4.4 million for the property - covering the island and a part of Mull. The details are on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has covered the island
Digital Edition: well within reach of those who target it

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Spring into Life

A sign of springtime is evident at Melbost Borve, Lewis, from a photograph taken by Derek MacLeod. It appears in the BBC's Your Pictures of Scotland series. Of the 24 images on display, only three have immediate 'island connections', but two-thirds are linked with water.

Scottish Islands Explorer - renews every eight weeks
Digital Edition: can be brought to life within seconds

Saturday, 17 March 2018

In the Black

These properties on the Black Isle may well leave their owners in the black, rather than the red, according to an article in the Bricks & Mortar section of The Times on house-prices in the Highlands. See why the market for homes, not holiday houses, has grown.

Scottish Islands Explorer - demand for its pages develops
Digital Edition: 'hotspots' replacing 'notspots' in the Scottish Highlands

Friday, 16 March 2018

Accommodation Concepts

The West Highland Free Press carries an item on a proposed development in Portree. It illustrates how the dynamics and concepts of accommodation have changed - with a hub, pods, pool plus more. Skye has enjoyed a demand for places to stay as the numbers of visitors have increased in recent years. The prospective developers already run The Cowshed - a boutique bunkhouse - at Uig.

Scottish Islands Explorer - provides the luxury of both print ...
Digital Edition: ... and electronic formats

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Getting Up and Away

Here are two of Orkney's islands - Papa Westray (above) and Sanday. If you want to descend to see a couple of properties on sale - each needing renovation - then go to Kimbland and Benziecott. They could be secured, separately, for close to £100k and have fine sea views. It may be difficult, however, to find a house without such an outlook on these islands.

Scottish Islands Explorer - likes looking up places to live
Digital Edition: good to have copies at hand

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

A Seaweed Tonic

A carrageen seaweed pudding helped during a process that led to creating a distinctive gin on the island of Barra. Follow what happened from an item in the Stornoway Gazette. It's also in order to raise a glass to this, the 2,500th consecutive daily blog item. The series is now almost seven years old, having taken longer to distil than whisky, four years minimum, compared with gin-making, four days!

Scottish Islands Explorer - gives a fillip to many subscribers
Digital Edition: takes the air rather than the sea route

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Compare & Contrast

There's a somewhat misleading element about this photograph of a cruise ship in Lerwick Harbour with, apparently, four passengers strolling off. The season begins this week. When, later in the year, the MSC Maraviglia (171, 598 gross tonnes) arrives, one could see 4,500 passengers and 1,500 crew disembark, if all left the ship. Read the item in Shetland News, compare and contrast the numbers involved and, perhaps, be grateful that you are not in the town centre or at a tourist site on Shetland mainland. It could be crowded.

Scottish Islands Explorer - sales in Shetland could soar
Digital Edition: cruise ships must have internet connections

Monday, 12 March 2018

A Site / Sight to Behold

Go to the Property Section of Saturday's Daily Telegraph and take in the views out to sea. The Black House, Skye, is one to savour, in particular.

Scottish Islands Explorer - always promotes great views
Digital Edition: offers the full picture without hesitation or deviation

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Escape to Landscapes

The Scottish Landscape Photographers' Awards feature a range of landscapes and seascapes. Jeanie Lazenby's work (above) was an overall winner while the summer landscape award went to the image

above by Richard Clarkson. Martin Steele's capturing of the topic of weather (below)  was commended. For more in the gallery of compelling photographs go to the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - full of comparable scenes ...
Digital Edition:  ... with selected ones available almost instantly

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Arctic Walrus

Here's an Arctic Walrus, photographed in Greenland, from an interesting blog called High Latitudes. Earlier this week a similar creature was spotted in North Ronaldsay and Sanday in Orkney. It appears on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - many copies regularly make their way south
Digital Edition: no geographical limitations for this technology

Friday, 9 March 2018

South Skye Safety

Go the West Highland Free Press to find out about the proposal of a safe route for cyclists in South Skye. It makes sense and security.

Scottish Islands Explorer - provides a product to be enjoyed at home ...
Digital Edition: ... or on the screen of a computer or handheld device

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Festival Volunteering

If putting stones in place to create new and preserve existing sections of walls appeals, then do consider the North Ronaldsay Sheep Festival 2018. Volunteers are needed to assist in the maintenance of the 13-mile sheep dyke and subsidised accommodation is there to applied for here. The dates are 29 July - 10 August for the Festival and 30 April for applications to be made.

Scottish Islands Explorer - volunteer subscribers always needed
Digital Edition: donations made voluntarily bring some six gifts

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Ken Gunn

Ken Gunn, the former captain of the Hebridean Princess and the co-owner of the Sonas Hotel Group on the Isle of Skye, has died, aged 67. He was a global seafarer who brought luxury sailing to the Scottish islands. Read the obituary in The Caterer.

He had close links with St Kilda. His Skye-born grandfather was, for a time, its church minister and his grandmother the school-teacher. They took Ken's mother there when just a couple of weeks old and she lived on the isolated archipelago for five years.

Scottish Islands Explorer recalls with fondness meeting Ken and his wife, Anne, enjoying their hospitality and being sailed in their yacht from Mallaig to Knoydart - a miniature cruise skippered by an illustrious captain and hotelier.

Scottish Islands Explorer - privileged to have enjoyed his company
Digital Edition: also covers the world's seaways

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Unst Kirk Changes

The Church of Scotland at Uyeasound, Unst, Shetland, at which only occasional services have been held in recent years, will be closing following a vote at its annual meeting. Shetland News has a report about a kirk that is a distinctive landmark.

The former Hillside Free Church of Scotland, a few miles to the north, closed in 1959 and is now derelict. It was built soon after the Disruption in 1843 on the same architectural lines as the one at Uyeasound.

The kirk at Baltasound was built for the Church of Scotland and it was claimed could seat 2000, albeit fairly thin, people. That was an optimistic outlook for the population of Unst peaked at 2269 in 1871. At the last Census, in 2011, it was 632.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has no capacity-figure for circulation
Digital Edition: available for the world's population. That's optimism!

Monday, 5 March 2018

Robert Kelsey

Jura from Islay and Shore Patterns, Harris, are oil on canvas paintings by the Scottish artist, Robert Kelsey. They will be part of a Solo Exhibition from 15 - 30 March at Thompson's Gallery, 3 Seymour Place, Marylebone, London. Take a look at all his works that will be on display by clicking here.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has featured Robert Kelsey's works in the past
Digital Edition: delivers at a stroke

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Black, not White, Isle

The photograph above, by Karen Thorburn, shows a view from the Black Isle to the mountains to the north. According to a blog-watcher, the current conditions brought by the so-called 'Beast from the East', have not affected the isle which lies above Inverness.

Within a few months benign weather will be the norm, but, in the meantime, residents may feel sensations of freedom from climatic constraints, associated with this sea eagle whose image is from the local Fortrose Free Church of Scotland website. The congregation is temporarily holding services in the town hall. For full details of the Black Isle, click here.

Scottish Islands Explorer - welcomes the variety of insular conditions
Digital Edition: resembles the sea eagle for delivery techniques

Saturday, 3 March 2018


The Shiants, five miles east of Lewis and Harris, have been declared rat-free with birds able to survive more easily. Read about it through RSPB Scotland and plan a trip there, perhaps with the Northern Light Cruising Company.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has few predators in a fairly exclusive market
Digital Edition: has developed with remarkably few problems

Friday, 2 March 2018

Gutters' Hut

Gutters' Hut, Lerwick, has a name that speaks for itself. It was built for processing fish by a now antiquated method, but has been transformed and is part of a thriving business park. One of its tenants is an IT company Mesomorphic Ltd, with a name that, perhaps, reflects the build of the gutters - compact and muscular. Take a look at the impressive new website of this company which is serving clients in Shetland and well beyond; click on Shetland News for more details.

Scottish Islands Explorer - here's a website that introduces a magazine
Digital Edition: with technology to bring the publication to screens

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Aye Write!

Glasgow's Book Festival, Aye Write! will include a presentation on The Islands Book Trust's publication, Madame Scotia, Madam Scrap by Helene Witcher. It's in the form of a conversation between the author and Anni Donaldson, taking place at 11.20 on Saturday 24 March at the Mitchell Library, Glasgow. The full details and booking arrangements are here. As Margaret Bennett wrote about the subject of the book, '.... Heloise (Russell-Fergusson) must be remembered, not just for her pioneering music but for her adventurous spirit, her spirituality, her generosity, and, yes, her eccentricities.'

Scottish Islands Explorer - the book is reviewed in the current edition
Digital Edition: available at £1.99 for the single copy, £9.99 for the year

Wednesday, 28 February 2018


There are now multiple ways of reading and skimming newsprint and magazines without having to enter a shop or purchase the product. Take the Islander - taking you out and about Orkney. It's just a click away, without a coin required.

Scottish Islands Explorer - needs your subscriptions to survive
Digital Edition: one of the multiple ways of accessing 

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Still Selling

Number Three Kingsburgh, Skye, has been on the market for some time. Its asking price of £535k seems reasonable and the images are certainly attractive. Worth looking at or looking into?

Scottish Islands Explorer - also worth considering
Digital Edition: is Kingsburgh wifi friendly?

Monday, 26 February 2018

From Space to Space?

The BBC website carries news of a possible development on a spacious area of crofting land at Melness on the north coast of Sutherland. It involves the commercial operation of launching satellites into space - from the top of the British mainland to circuiting of the globe. Here's a rival to the launch pad proposed on Unst, Shetland, and featured on the blog here.

Scottish Islands Explorer - delivered by air-mail to overseas readers
Digital Edition: accessed via satellites by many subscribers

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Caution - Land on Sand

This blog started almost seven years ago with an image of an aircraft on the beach at Barra. The image here comes from Rae Phillips and appears in the BBC's current Your Pictures of Scotland. It and others in the gallery both stimulate and remind.

Scottish Islands Explorer - its gallery of photos are often acclaimed
Digital Edition: accustomed to landing with a welcome, not a caution

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Jura Drawn

Barnhill, Jura, is the subject of  an article in the current issue of The Oldie. It refers, among other topics, to the 70th anniversary of George Orwell renting the house, writing 1984 and having various escapades in an isolated enclave in the north of the island.

Scottish Islands Explorer - sometimes has articles on authors
Digital Edition: uses technology that Orwell failed to forecast

Friday, 23 February 2018

Scotland's Small Towns

Lists are always being compiled. Go to Ten of the Best Small Towns in Scotland and discover that four of them are on islands.

Scottish Islands Explorer - attractions are everywhere
Digital Edition: enables discovery to be almost instantaneous

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Orkney Hydrogen

The Financial Times requested its readers to submit ideas about transforming the world. One of the 50 selected involved the Orkney Hydrogen Project. It's worth taking a look, for it focuses on our future.

Scottish Islands Explorer - its future is paramount
Digital Edition: here's future technology in practice

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Rabbits, Not Strangers

Same islands, different light. These are the Rabbit Islands, in Tongue Bay, Sutherland. The three were originally named Eilean nan Gall after the strangers who landed there. These were the Danes, back in the first millennium. They did not stay and a population has never been evident, apart from the prolific numbers of rabbits. However, the summer sees marine sports enthusiasts in action.

Scottish Islands Explorer - endeavours to see islands in different lights
Digital Edition: arrives as fast as light

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Harbour to Hub

There was a time when capital investment flowed into the installations at Stornoway Harbour. Now much money is directed 'into the clouds' and specialist, communication facilities are receiving the funds. Some 25 years ago the first of a cluster of buildings on the Seaforth Road became the start what is now termed a 'media village'. A former Harris Tweed mill was converted and the hub grew. A further £500k has been granted, with the story given in the Stornoway Gazette.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a small part of the communications revolution ...
Digital Edition: ... using vital technologies

Monday, 19 February 2018

Kylerhea Narrows

When the rudder broke on the 1200 tonne MV CEG Universe, a cargo ship carrying road salt, found itself in the Kylerhea Narrows between Skye and Glenelg. Rescue was needed. Read about it on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - individual copies sometimes require saving
Digital Edition: safety in the clouds

Sunday, 18 February 2018

The Decca on the Market

The Decca was originally built as a navigational signalling station at the top end of the Isle of Lewis.It served its purpose and has been converted, over the years, into a 12-bedroomed accommodation complex with restaurant facilities. It's for sale and offers a unique business and lifestyle opportunity with a distinctive name plus a memorable address - 'Lionel, Ness, Lewis'. Full details are with the appropriately-named PrimeLocation.

Scottish Islands Explorer - loves prime locations on islands
Digital Edition: navigation for a publication

Saturday, 17 February 2018

At the End of a Journey

Imagine you have been tramping through the many trackless sections of the east coast of South Uist and have passed the lighthouse at Ushinish (below). The only place to stay is the MBA's bothy (above) and what a welcome sight it would be. It's mentioned in an item in the website of the Gatliff Hostels through which there is access to an article in the Country Diary series of The Guardian. Take the screen trail.

Scottish Islands Explorer - encourages exploration
Digital Edition: load the pages before departing to these areas

Friday, 16 February 2018

New Connections

There's an innovative venture being set up to bring together details of the maritime knowledge that is scattered throughout the Northern Isles. Remember that it's difficult on Shetland to be more than three miles from the sea. Look at the 'New Connections' item about the move to create awareness of the wealth of historical interest, some of which is in danger of being lost. Take, for instance, Baltasound Pier once the terminal of the 2'6" gauge Hagstone Chromate Railway. It was a shortlived feature on Unst with an existence from 1907 until 1937.

Scottish Islands Explorer - likes to resurrect past matters
Digital Edition: operates with futuristic technologies

Thursday, 15 February 2018

More Atlantic Links

Yesterday's blog highlighted links between distant Atlantic communities. Seumas Morrison, who owns SeaHarris, commented on the item and related how his first vessel, Enchanted Isle, which served St Kilda for day-visits, was sold to a company in Jamestown, St Helena. For details of the similarly-named craft now operating out of Tarbert, Harris, click here.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has visited SK, TDC and SH
Digital Edition: available throughout St Helena, the size of the Isle of Wight