Friday, 16 November 2018

Quay Closures

Here's a CalMac ferry close to the Coll quay. Docking will be unavailable for car-ferries for a four-week period both here and at Tiree while new facilities are installed. See The Press and Journal.

Scottish Islands Explorer - mailed copies will get through
Digital Edition: its facilities will be unimpeded

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Digital Era Arrived

Loading planes at North Ronaldsay Airport still involves human labour, but passengers wanting to book inter-island flights have everything at their fingertips. See The Orcadian item on the introduction of digital access.

Scottish Islands Explorer - also moving into this era
Digital Edition: already there

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

One Thing Leads ...

... to another. So a landslide in the remote mainland country between Loch Garry and Kinloch Hourn, to the north of Fort William, leads to damaged cables and a cut in electricity supplies to Skye and some parts of the Western Isles. The Press and Journal has the details.

Scottish Islands Explorer - not so dependent
Digital Edition: affected at the final stages of distribution

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

To Within An Inch

The Skerryvore Lighthouse was designed by Alan Stevenson to be erected on An Sgeir Mhor, the large skerry, some eleven miles south-west of Tiree. Work started in 1837 and after 58,000 cubic feet of granite was shipped to the islet, often surrounded by turbulent seas, the final stone was put in place in 1842. The actual construction, at 138ft, was within an inch of its height calculated on the drawing board. Robert Louis Stevenson described the engineering wonder as being 'the noblest of all extant deep sea lights'.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has never knowingly been taken there
Digital Edition: could be off the radar here


Monday, 12 November 2018

Beauty and the Bowl

A 2000-year-old bowl discovered during the summer at The Cairns archaeological site on South Ronaldsay, Orkney, is an object of beauty that was considered sufficient precious to be repaired many generations ago. Look into it at History Scotland.

Scottish Islands Explorer - will copies last 1% of this time?
Digital Edition: worth preserving

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Take a New Perspective

Broad Bay is some seven miles to the north of Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, and Broad Bay House, with six bedrooms and accommodation facilities, is on the market with PrimeLocation.

Here, in a stunning setting, is a fine guest house and an expansive family home, built to high standards in 2007. It may provide a new perspective for work, leisure and lifestyle.

Scottish Islands Explorer - likes looking at lifestyles
Digital Edition: ideal for marketing a business

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Off-shore and Unsure

Two Shetland scenes - Sumburgh Head (above) and Fetlar (below) - indicate that island life can be lonely. The decline in numbers of people on the off-shore islands in the archipelago has recently been raised

and is reported in The Press and Journal, accompanied by a map showing the specific figures for residents from the 2011 Census.

Scottish Islands Explorer - counts its copies as well as populations
Digital Edition: always rising

Friday, 9 November 2018

New Delivery Service

There are times when residents of, say, Papa Stour (above) or on the road to Hope (below) find that delivery services exclude the Highlands & Islands. A new company was set up last Monday to make life easier. Highland Parcels could well be a godsend for those who live in the far north. Shetland News has more details.

Scottish Islands Explorer - could well be using the service
Digital Edition: has its built-in courier device

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Airport Numbers Up

A modern building and a moorland background give Stornoway Airport an attractive look. During October 2018 it saw a record number of passengers using its facilities. The details are reported in the Stornoway Gazette.

Scottish Islands Explorer - copies are flown in and out of this airport
Digital Edition: copies fly anywhere

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Festival Intake

It has been estimated that last July's two-day Eilean Dorchas Festival on Benbecula brought in over half-a-million pounds to the local economy. Discover the details at The Press and Journal.

Scottish Islands Explorer - was not on sale there
Digital Edition: could have been accessed, given wifi

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Northern Lights Array

Here's one of a fine array - on the BBC Website - of images of the Northern Lights photographed over Shetland during the run-up to 5 November. 

Scottish Islands Explorer - lights up some readers' lives
Digital Edition: cuts quietly across the skies 

Monday, 5 November 2018

Plug for Pathe

Ailsa Craig, 245 acres in extent, was once a volcanic plug, is a marker in the outer reaches of the Firth of Clyde and its blue hone granite has been the source of curling stones for many years. Its archaic look is brought out by a clip of film - now 84 years old - from the archives of British Pathe. Here, Pathe News, was the source of cinema newsreels and documentaries from 1910 - 1970. 

Scottish Islands Explorer - has added colour
Digital Edition: how access to information has moved on 

Sunday, 4 November 2018

The Final Expansion

Rockall receives its occasional visitors, but for the most part - particularly during the winter months - is seldom seen. An article in The Guardian by Fraser MacDonald puts interest in the islet into context - from individual efforts to stop, stare and, even, stay to its being the last piece of land to be incorporated into the empire that's British.

Scottish Islands Explorer - likes ultimate destinations
Digital Edition: few places are off the radar for reception

Saturday, 3 November 2018

A Truly Top Spot

The Three Chimneys on Skye has a remarkable reputation as a place to eat, stay and ... talk about. It has now received an ultimate accolade - rated among the five top restaurants in the world by The Wall Street Journal. Read about it in The Press and Journal and find out the names and whereabouts of the other four. Think of the money you'll save by not going!

Scottish Islands Explorer - an annual subscription for the price of a ....?
Digital Edition: for thoroughly good service

Friday, 2 November 2018

Orkney To Test 5G

There's a consortium about to test the effectiveness of 5G Broadband on small communities and projects in Orkney. Read about it on the BBC Website and how 20 Stronsay residents, perhaps from Whitehall (above), will be recruited to switch between radio signals. Solar panels on Graemsay (below) will be used to see whether they can receive broadband delivered over infra-red light.

Scottish Islands Explorer - would delight in high-tech transmission
Digital Edition: will undoubtedly benefit eventually

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Shinty Revival

There has been, in recent years, a revival of the ancient game of shinty in Lewis and Harris. Its history goes back some 2000 years to hurling in Ireland and the, now virtually defunct, sport of bando in Wales. The spacious setting (above) for the match between Lewis and Lochcarron (on the Mainland) contrasts with a home fixture venue at Shawbost for the Lewis versus Lochbroom encounter. Space must have been somewhat restricted, in 1695, when Martin Martin reported about the game taking place on St Kilda with 'short clubs and balls of wood' and players competing for 'eggs, fowls, hooks and tobacco'.

Scottish Islands Explorer - home to more sedate activities, like reading
Digital Edition: enters homes quietly

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

A Miss or a Must?

The BBC Website has details of how there are new plans to boost tourism in Shetland. In it is a reference to how three of its off-shore islands have not been part of the recent trend in increasing numbers of tourists. So, perhaps, these are the places to visit - a must for travellers?

Foula (top) claims to be the most remote of the British isles and its population has steadily declined. Papa Stour (above) has seen a slump in numbers towards single figures. The Out Skerries (below) has lost some facilities, but retains an airstrip that is among the shortest in the world. Last year 90,000 people came into Lerwick on cruise liners. None was able to access these islands without jumping ship!

Scottish Islands Explorer - getting away from the mainstream
Digital Edition: uses the broadband streaming of information

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Mull Parking Protest

There has been time to reflect in Tobermory, and throughout Mull, about the proposed parking fees for both residents and visitors to the island. The Press and Journal has the story concerning thousands signing a petition.

Scottish Islands Explorer - one year's fee would buy 20 subscriptions or ...
Digital Edition: … nearly 50 for this service

Monday, 29 October 2018

Going Down

Yesterday the remarkable decline of the number of residents during the first half of the 20th Century on Stroma were featured. What has happened on this site during the past four days is that the number of visitors to the blog has declined dramatically. It's apparent that instead of reaching a couple of hundred daily, only some 50 or so have been attracted. What's going on? Nothing comparable has happened over the past seven-and-a-half years. 

Scottish Islands Explorer - some sort of exploration maintained daily
Digital Edition: is certainly growing in numbers

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Stroma Streamed Away

Stroma, off Caithness, is an island in the tidal streams of the Pentland Firth. In 1901, its population was at a height of 375 residents, but within 60 years was down to 12 and within a year or so abandoned by all, but the lighthouse keepers. It just missed out in a number of ways - with islanders creating an airstrip that received its first official flights in 1938. The War intervened and they were never revived. A new harbour was constructed in the late 1950s and served as an exit for men keen to earn incomes on the Mainland where the creation of the Dounreay nuclear power station was bringing opportunities. The book below was published by The Islands Book Trust in 2011.

Scottish Islands Explorer - monitors some that declined dramatically
Digital Edition: not hindered by tidal streams

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Vaila - Voila!

Voila! - There you are. If you are looking for an island to purchase, then consider Vaila Sound on the west side of Shetland and Linga, which apparently remains on sale for £250k. Its recent appearance on the market was almost five years ago. Here are five burns, four ponds, a height of 312', a population of two reported and one ruined mansion in its just over one square mile. Neil Risk Solicitors has the details.

Scottish Islands Explorer - relishes its own kind on offer
Digital Edition: available, given broadband connections

Friday, 26 October 2018

Excess at High End

Here is the elevation of Sandwick, Shetland, but it's not the A970 which runs from Lerwick to Sumburgh Airport. On the stretch of that road between Fladdabister and Sandwick, a local man, called 'a total menace' on a previous occasion, was arrested for travelling at 90 mph, almost four times over the drink/drive limit, without insurance and while alone on a provisional licence. That's some excess. The Press and Journal has the story of this extreme behaviour.

Scottish Islands Explorer - endeavours to make steady progress
Digital Edition: even its speed is regulated

Thursday, 25 October 2018

'Butcher' on Eday

Last week saw a Great Grey Shrike, a rare visitor, crash onto a conservatory in Eday, Orkney, recover and then be photographed for The Orcadian. The bird's scientific name is Lanius excubitor from the Latin for 'butcher' and 'sentinel' - referring to its habits of impaling small creatures on thorns and watching for prey from poles or tree-tops. 

Scottish Islands Explorer - welcomes sentinels to its website
Digital Edition: ready to fly anywhere 

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

An 'Arctic Strategy'?

There's a call from interested parties in Shetland to restore a stop in Lerwick for the Smyril Line ferries, particularly the Norrona (above), on the Denmark - Faroe - Iceland service. It's over eleven years since ships ceased to come while on this run and the Scottish Government is keen to see something of an 'Arctic Strategy' resumed. The details are in Shetland News

Scottish Islands Explorer - would be ready to get on board
Digital Edition: would be pleased to spread the word worldwide

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Top With Lonely Planet

The Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2019 is a selected category of recommended places for world travellers to visit. It is highly-anticipated and so for the Scottish Highlands & Islands to be in the 'Top Ten' is a much-wanted status among destinations. Read about the inclusion, on the BBC Website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - can only benefit
Digital Edition: will accelerate associated aspects of the award 

Monday, 22 October 2018

The Machir Bay Approach

Richard Cooper, from Glasgow, photographed his wife and daughters as they walked purposefully over the sands of Machir Bay, Islay, to take advantage of the waves that resulted from Storm Callum. Here's an admirable way to approach the week - ready and resolute to experience and enjoy. Consider the other images in the BBC's Your Pictures of Scotland.

Scottish Islands Explorer - promotes pleasures
Digital Edition: focuses fast

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Iona Library Restored

The Duke of Argyll, whose great-great-grandfather established the Iona Cathedral Trust in 1899, has officially opened the newly-restored library on Iona. The Very Revd Dr Finlay Macdonald (pictured above), chairman of the trust, is pleased with the results of refurbishment with its monies and the assistance of a £100k National Lottery grant. Some of the buildings date back to the 6th Century; with the Columban monastery being supplanted by the Benedictine Abbey in the 13th Century; earlier restoration work has been in various phases from 1913 into the 1940s and 1950s. The Press and Journal has more details.

Scottish Islands Explorer - copies need to be lodged there
Digital Edition: what changes there have been in reading

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Be Aroused on Raasay

One thing will lead to another on Raasay - from the delights of the distillery to the lights of fiery torches. The fourth Whisky Fire & Song event will be taking place on Friday 2 & Saturday 3 November 2018. Click here for full details and then make a booking directly on the website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - casts light on distant places
Digital Edition: moves at the speed of light

Friday, 19 October 2018

A Popular Skye Option

Here's the MV Coruisk, of CalMac's fleet, approaching Armadale from Mallaig, with the Knoydart Peninsula in the background. Figures in a West Highland Free Press item show that this crossing is surprisingly popular, despite the obvious attractions of the Skye Bridge. The clues may be in the sights on the sea journey; the amenities along the Sound of Sleat; the fine Fort William - Mallaig road, with the locations of parts of a popular novel en route; simply that SatNav tends to advise this way.

Scottish Islands Explorer - prefers the scenic routes
Digital Edition: delivers directly

Thursday, 18 October 2018


Once the Church of Scotland supported a missionary / teacher on the remote island of Foula where the kirk (above) has few social amenities immediately around it. Few residents use the road to reach it on a Sunday and now the ecclesiastical authorities have announced the prospective closure of it, plus six others on small islands - Out Skerries, Whalsay, Bressay, Fetlar, Fair Isle and Yell. 13 kirks on Mainland Shetland have been selected as well. For details of this 'Twenty-Kirk-Cull', go to the BBC Website or to Tuesday's blog

Scottish Islands Explorer - it's easier to manage a magazine than a mission
Digital Edition: always opening new markets

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

All Electric Orkney?

The prospect of being able to fly from Kirkwall to the outer Orkney islands by electric plane could be a reality by 2021. Read the item on the BBC Website and quietly make plans to be there for some remarkably innovative flights.

Scottish Islands Explorer - could the magazine be all-electronic by then?
Digital Edition: the way of the future

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Two-Thirds to Go

Here's the most northerly Church of Scotland kirk in Britain - at Unst in the Shetland group. Although specific church closures have not been announced, the figure of 20 out of 31 to be decommissioned in Shetland has sounded alarm bells. That's one-third to remain. A clue to this is in another statistic - there are 975 members of the Church of Scotland in Shetland, but two-thirds of them do not contribute financially. Details are in The Press and Journal.

Scottish Islands Explorer - well aware of changes in communities
Digital Edition: something that's on the increase 

Monday, 15 October 2018

Gravity Defied on Skye

Waterfalls are determined by forces of gravity - for there's not much that can stop them. However, Storm Callum performed remarkably on Skye as these pictures from the BBC Website show.

Scottish Islands Explorer - aware of the pressures of the elements
Digital Edition: subject to other forces

Sunday, 14 October 2018


The history of Vallay contains elements of a 'tall story' or in this case lengthy shadows on the tidal flats that separate it from the rest of North Uist. However, Lucy Davies explores many down-to-earth aspects of the island in yesterday's Daily Telegraph Magazine. Interesting insights are presented.

Scottish Islands Explorer - discover through a full-length article
Digital Edition: not dependent upon tidal forces