Saturday, 31 March 2018

Architectural Trail

To celebrate the RIAS Festival of Architecture, Western Isles Architects Group and An Lanntair have teamed up to create the 'Buildings our Islands' project to increase awareness of architecture in the Outer Hebrides. Take a look at the 29 notable places selected by clicking here. The Gatliff Hostel at Berneray (above) is included.

Scottish Islands Explorer - well aware of innovative designs through the ages
Digital Edition: the innovative way to subscribe

Friday, 30 March 2018

Oldany Island

Here's an archetypal image of a bay, beach, summer-house, sea and a self-propelled way of access. It's of a 500-acre tidal island in the south-west entrance to Eddrachillis Bay, Sutherland, and has a Norse name, Oldany. Perhaps it's that time of year - Good Friday - to make good intentions to visit during the Summer of '18?

Scottish Islands Explorer - certainly much to discover
Digital Edition: available every hour of every day throughout the year

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Island Games

The image of the football field on Eriskay, captured by Andrew Bulloch, won a category in a leading photographic competition that can be accessed here.

Scottish Islands Explorer - rarely covers soccer
Digital Edition:  passes from supplier to viewer fast

Wednesday, 28 March 2018


Taphonomy - the study of how organisms become fossilised - is not a word generally used. Its processes will be examined in relation to the large number of Neolithic bones that have been found in Orkney. Consider the article on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - various topics regularly unearthed
Digital Edition: studies revealed at speed

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Back Later, for Some

The last residents of Eilean nan Ron - off the north Sutherland coast - left in mid-1938 and it has been permanently uninhabited ever since. I saw it yesterday, but from a distance. The 70th anniversary of the evacuation will soon be commemorated. Watch this space.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has covered the island in past issues
Digital Edition: ready to run at any time 

Monday, 26 March 2018

Caught on Canvas

Beverley Chapman has caught Eilean Shona, a tidal island in Loch Moidart, on camera, perhaps ahead of her work on canvas. See more images in the BBC Your Pictures of Scotland series.

Scottish Islands Explorer - images proliferate
Digital Edition: items and images on demand

Sunday, 25 March 2018

A Great Bernera Buyout?

Great Bernera is to the right; Little Bernera to the left. The history of these islands off Lewis is somewhat different. Find out a little more about the background to a prospective buyout of the former that is featured in The Press and Journal.

Scottish Islands Explorer - subject to buying, not buyouts
Digital Edition: sells easily through the internet

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Hunt, Shoot & Fish Snip?

Do take a look at the selling points of the Barvas Estate, Isle of Lewis, for it offers hunting,shooting and fishing at what appears to be a reasonable asking price - £800k. It could be the right move through rightmove.

Scottish Islands Explorer - also good value
Digital Edition: is a snip at £9.99 for a year's subscription

Friday, 23 March 2018

South and West Walrus

The walrus, photographed here by Russell Neave, was spotted off North Ronaldsay, Orkney, earlier this month and featured in the blog on Saturday 10 March. Now sightings have occurred off Dunnet Head, Caithness, and 30 miles west of Thurso at Armadale, Sutherland. Is Wally heading for the Western Isles? An account of his trail is on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a walrus living up to the magazine's name
Digital Edition: also tracked by many

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Splash Out for Summer

Aircraft landing on the beach at Barra usually create a splash of interest with watchers. Now the operator is increasing the services for the Summer 2018 season involving flights to and from Barra and Tiree. So be prepared to splash out for a trip later this year. Read about the flight bonanza in the Stornoway Gazette.

Scottish Islands Explorer - pick up a magazine to take along
Digital Edition: can increase delivery services on demand

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