Wednesday, 31 January 2018

A Refuge for Someone

Imagine being wet and cold on Barvas Moor, the Isle of Lewis, and this building comes into view. Some refuge would be offered. The image was captured by David Wilson, The Hebrides Photographer.

Scottish Islands Explorer - unlikely to find a copy within these doors ...
Digital Edition: ... but with the right internet connections?

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Returning to Unst

These three observers of Muckle Flugga, Unst, Shetland, the most northerly part of Britain, are undoubtedly visitors. Perhaps they will return. There is, however, a definite tendency among those brought up on the island to come back and settle down. See the item on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has readers there
Digital Edition: able to reach despite patchy reception 

Monday, 29 January 2018

The Sandwood Shepherd

Getting to Sandwood Bay in the far north-west of the Scottish mainland is considerably more arduous than reaching many islands. However, its massive beach is well worth the effort and just offshore is the sea-stack, Am Buachaille, known as 'The Shepherd'. It was first climbed in 1968 and on YouTube is the opportunity to see a more recent ascent. If you have heights to reach this week, here's one to savour on your screen without effort.

Scottish Islands Explorer - goes to lengths to reveal
Digital Edition: available on the stack with the right kit

Sunday, 28 January 2018

A Vatersay Stay

Airbnb enables you to look ... and book ... accommodation all over the world. Where better to start than at the foot of the Outer Hebridean chain and the island of Vatersay? Here is a caravan which offers static transport of delight in an idyllic setting.

Scottish Islands Explorer - accommodation is often suggested
Digital Edition:  a magazine through the air-waves

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Back to Rockall

If your appetite for the remote was whetted yesterday, then return to Rockall today in the company of a group who visited in the Summer of 1982. It's a good story, well told.

Scottish Islands Explorer - always keen to know more about this outlier
Digital Edition: willing to go anywhere

Friday, 26 January 2018

Operation Top Hat

Rockall-watchers certainly well outnumber visitors to that far distant islet. Two strands of information regarding  putting a permanent light there are interesting. One concerns the decapitation of the summit in 1971 - the so-called Operation Top Hat - in 1971; the other is about the Solar Beacon placed there by Greenpeace in 1997.

Scottish Islands Explorer - needs comparable publicity
Digital Edition: reaches remote places with technological support

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Foula in Focus

For a close-up series of fascinating views of Foula, in the Shetland group of islands, go to The Sun.

Scottish Islands Explorer - likes to explore in detail
Digital Edition: closes in quickly

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Inching into Space

Saxa Vord and Burra Firth are at the top end of the country's most northerly island, Unst. Here plans are being made to create a viable company, Shetland Space Centre Ltd, to operate a launchpad for rockets to take spacecraft places. Read in Shetland News about the initial steps.

Scottish Islands Explorer - down-to-earth coverage
Digital Edition: travels through space to deliver

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Pentland Road

The BBC's Your Pictures of Scotland was light on island images last week, but Morris MacLeod's photograph of sheep on the Pentland Road, Lewis, more than made up for the shortfall. Below is a reminder of how that long and high road beyond Stornoway looks later in the year.

Scottish Islands Explorer - tends to favour summery shots
Digital Edition: gets through regardless of obstacles

Monday, 22 January 2018

Roots, Shoots & Fruits

2018 should be another formative year in the development of the Raasay Walled Garden with its promise of roots, shoots and fruits. Go to The Skye Times for details.

Scottish Islands Explorer - needs to be opened, not restricted
Digital Edition: a slick click and its fixed

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Far and Near

There is a balance between living in a rural location and being inaccessible. Almora Cottage, built in 1969, has been a family-home and, subsequently, a holiday let. It's at Clachan Sands, North Uist, some five miles from Lochmaddy and on the road to Berneray. So it has a degree of isolation and open views, but close to two hubs, the important ferries - Lochmaddy for the relatively-sheltered crossing to Uig on Skye; the Sound of Harris link for Leverburgh and points north. The current price is £112k and the details are with the Skye Property Centre.

Scottish Islands Explorer - often dwells on dwellings
Digital Edition: the all-important internet connection matters

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Ten Ness Men

Sulasgeir is a most remote island in the UK where survival - not habitation - is possible for a limited time. An exclusive group of ten men from the Lewis township of Ness is permitted by law to harvest here the guga or young gannet. The recent television  programme on them is featured on BBC Scotland.

Scottish Islands Explorer - copies have to be hunted for on occasions
Digital Edition: yet they are easily available here

Friday, 19 January 2018

Drastic Plastic

This image of a Scapa Flow beach is deceptive for recent research has shown that the levels of microplastic pollution here in Orkney are on the same scale as that on the shores of industrial areas along the Clyde and Forth. Read on the BBC website about the studies made by a team from Heriot-Watt University.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a paper-product that's mailed in plastic
Digital Edition: apparently transmitted without material content

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Life & Death on Barra

The magazine, Hidden Europe, considers places throughout the continent. One of its editors, Nicky Gardner has spent some weeks on Barra and here is her second letter from a currently weather-beaten island near the foot of the Outer Hebrides. The first featured Birds on Atlantic Shores.

Scottish Islands Explorer - very much alive and kicking
Digital Edition: supplies not weather-affected

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Winter in the Hebrides

Here's the West Beach of Berneray with the Hills of Harris beyond. It appears in a fine compilation of photographs presented by Julian Paren as an invitation to Winter in the Hebrides using the Gatliff Hostels. They never close; you have little to lose!

Scottish Islands Explorer - recommends plenty to enjoy out-of-season
Digital Edition: also open day and night

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Six Generations On

Back in 1837 - that's 180 years and some six generations ago - the population of Ulva, off Mull, was 600. It was at the height of a kelp boom. Then things declined and much has gone down ever since, with just six residents there today. It's been in the news with the proposed buyout - see Ulva Issues - but some people will just continue to make the occasional visit, enjoy the views of the islands to the south from the now derelict village of Ormaig and be reminded of its connections with the development of Australia.

Scottish Islands Explorer - exists in the present; dwells on the past ...
Digital Edition: ... looks to the future

Monday, 15 January 2018

A Top Whisky

Muckle Flugga Whisky is a single malt distilled in Speyside and taken close to the islet after which it is named. It remains there - perhaps in this shed that's part of the old shore station of the lighthouse on Unst, Shetland and 'winters over'

during a 12-month stay before being returned to its mainland distillery for bottling. The islet that supports the Muckle Flugga lighthouse is within yards of the most northerly outcrop of the British Isles, Out Stack. Acquire a bottle through the Master of Malt website without having to travel to the end of the country.

Scottish Islands Explorer - goes to the ultimate for interests and imbibing
Digital Edition: just goes to the ends of the Earth

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Creating Links

Eilean Dhomhnaill in Loch Olabhat, North  Uist, was linked by a manmade causeway, to create a crannog. These existed from the Iron Age to extend and protect settlements. Now the island of North Uist could become a hub as a spaceport  for launching satellites and spacecraft. Read about the early proposals on the BBC website. Here are different ways of extending influence.

Scottish Islands Explorer - creates links wherever possible
Digital Edition: a revolutionary method

Saturday, 13 January 2018

A Moving Experience

At least Door Holm, Shetland, remained stable despite the heavy seas. Crossing to the Northern Isles by ship can, however, be a moving experience. However, the turbulence recorded featured here by CCTV cameras could have been taken from many ferries in the world. It has been suggested that this is from New Zealand. Any suggestions?

Scottish Islands Explorer - has avoided such incidents, thankfully
Digital Edition: travels by air-waves

Friday, 12 January 2018

Skye Design

For an inspirational visit to a website, access Rural Design Architects based on the Isle of Skye. The views of the properties and their vicinities are breathtaking.

Scottish Islands Explorer - takes in all sorts of views
Digital Edition: also guided by state-of-the-art technology

Thursday, 11 January 2018

The Scottish Show 2018

The entrance to the London gallery of Panter & Hall in Pall Mall is certainly clear and The Scottish Show 2018 will be taking place there from 29 January - 16 February. The pastel on paper - Haar Lifting - by Matthew Draper will be on sale and despite the mist, there is no prize for being able to identify the island depicted.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has been represented at the gallery
Digital Edition: one of its features is clarity

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Go Back to Sulasgeir

There is plenty of life - of the avian variety - on Sulasgeir, but men are just occasional visitors and women are rarely seen there, except when a film-crew is present. However, there's a chance for many to return in the next four weeks, through BBC iPlayer and the availability of last night's programme on BBC Alba.

Scottish Islands Explorer - here's a place explored by few
Digital Edition: the bird population would show no interest

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Sunday Opening

Stornoway was once a town renowned for one area of 'busyness' on a Sunday - in that the comings and goings of congregations to their many respective churches punctuated the day. A feature that was not evident concerned 'business' - for commercial activity virtually ceased. Then came a limited number of alternative Sabbath activities - air flights, ferry services, a petrol station with shop open. Now, for a trial period, An Lanntair, the arts centre, will welcome visitors on the last Sundays of January, February and March 2018. The BBC website covers these changes.

Scottish Islands Explorer - Sunday sales in Stornoway are certainly low
Digital Edition: open all hours

Monday, 8 January 2018

Dynamic Coast

Places are at risk around Scotland as climate changes have an impact on sea levels. Dynamic Coast is a study that focuses on where protection is most needed and Skara Brae, Orkney, is among the sites. More details are on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has a vested interest in islands
Digital Edition: global coverage well above sea level

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Time to Dust Off ...

According to Stephen Doig in the Daily Telegraph it's time to dust off ... your Fair Isle sweaters. Here's an island with a strong brand association for knitwear that has a knack of surviving fashion trends.

Scottish Islands Explorer - Fair Isle is where it all started
Digital Edition: use this device to access the magazine from anywhere

Saturday, 6 January 2018

To Live, Work and Host

Things go in threes and here is the final blog in the current series on Stronsay. An appeal is out for new residents to live, and thrive, on this Orkney island. As it happens the Stronsay Hotel is up-for sale and the details are with Lows Property. Offers around £265k could secure and that includes quite a lot of building, kit and custom. Worth a little consideration this weekend?

Scottish Islands Explorer - should sell well on Stronsay
Digital Edition: will go anywhere within seconds

Friday, 5 January 2018

Settle on Stronsay

If you are impressed by the waves of a publicity campaign for the Orkney island of Stronsay or influenced by its empty roads and big skies, then it could be the place for you ... to settle. There are, among others: an interesting-looking farm with offers over £385k; an attractive, modern, gated, three-bedroomed-house with offers over £190k; a property with 28 acres of land (currently under offer) at £135k; a 'priced-to-sell' dwelling over £80k;  and a good-sized building plot with fine sea views over £16k. Worth a weekend browse? Look at what The Scotsman and The Guardian have had to say. Alternatively remind yourself of the information through yesterday's blog.

Scottish Islands Explorer - takes you to 'paradise' on occasions
Digital Edition: travelling is not the issue with immediate connections

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Stay on Stronsay

Reflect on an Orkney island community that is looking to attract more visitors and residents. A first step to visiting, staying and stopping at Stronsay is to click onto its newly-launched website.  It will help you discover this 'Island of Bays' where a welcome is assured, a safe and stimulating environment is evident and access by boat and plane is straightforward. Here is a place ready for a economic resurgence. One of its attractions is that the ferry terminal is right in the island's main settlement, Whitehall (above), with facilities to assist your arrival and stay.

Scottish Islands Explorer - likes to convert readers to residents
Digital Edition: also welcoming and accessible

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

New Skye Venture

There us something initially calming about starting out on a new venture or business - with time to reflect before the launch. John Corfield has undertaken a variety of challenging tasks and is now into busyness with the day-to-day activities demanded by

his Isle of Skye Smokehouse. The details are in the West Highland Free Press including the use of a smokehouse design based upon the cleits of St Kilda where the preparation of food

was undertaken for hundreds of years. Here is a local venture to follow and to support - bringing distinctive tastes to many and trade to an island.

Scottish Islands Explorer - strives to revive island interests
Digital Edition: a modern approach to delivery

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Staying on Mugdrum

One of our regular readers provided more details about the island that featured yesterday:
'The house that stood on the island until 1960s, was formerly occupied by the Jackson family. The son, James, gave up his job as a marine engineer to assist his father keeping the farm going. However, with additional costs of transportation to the mainland, the income was insufficient and the Jacksons left the island. The house was not occupied again. Eventually after several attempts to flatten it, the rubble and stone were used to make a road across the island. James Jackson moved to Newburgh and would go for daily walks along the shore overlooking what was his Mugdrum Island home.'

Scottish Islands Explorer - manages to keep going despite postal costs
Digital Edition: incurs no fees for transportation

Monday, 1 January 2018


In need of a quiet few minutes at the start of the New Year? Then watch a YouTube presentation of Mugdrum Island in the Firth of Tay. It has 79 acres and gets no higher than 13ft. Until 1926 it supported a farm specialising in cereal crops. Getting there requires a combination of transport methods.

Scottish Islands Explorer - overcomes difficulties of access
Digital Edition: has acquired new subscribers already in 2018