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

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Go Great Bernera

Bosta Beach, Great Bernera, Isle of Lewis, is depicted here by Murdo Alick Macleod and appears in Art UK. For a tour of the island in high-definition there is no better way than the Calco Macleod presentation on YouTube.

Scottish Islands Explorer - explore this island in just 13 minutes
Digital Edition: high definition wherever you are

Friday, 12 October 2018

Full Power on Fair Isle

The Auld Haa Guesthouse will, like all other connected properties on Fair Isle, be receiving full power from the Scottish Power electricity grid from today onward. There will be no need to rely on the Northern Lights on some occasions! The full story is documented in Shetland News. The next stage is to attract more people to make this island location their home.

Scottish Islands Explorer - left Fair Isle in 2006 after launching there in 2000
Digital Edition: needs electricity, internet and a screen

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Surf and Safe

Mangersta, off the west coast of Lewis, has much to offer - from a secluded beach with surf to a sensational bothy that's safe. However, as the autumnal weather closed in, the seas proved too much for some surfers and the coastguards had to be called out. See the BBC website for details of the rescue and The Wandering Lens for the background to the bothy image.

Lisa Michele Burns (below) is a travel and underwater photojournalist responsible for The Wandering Lens and here she is a fine focus.

Scottish Islands Explorer - putting seascapes and escapes together
Digital Edition: projects items and images at remarkable speed

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

The Hero of Buzancy

The annual Angus Macleod Memorial Lecture will be given at 19.30 on Thursday 8 November at Pairc School, Gravir, South Lochs, Lewis by Dr Angus Macmillan on his late uncle and namesake, Angus Macmillan (above), who was acclaimed as The Hero of Buzancy. Click here for full details and then make a note of the significant event in your diary.

Scottish Islands Explorer - directs you to dates that matter
Digital Edition: carries news of events to far distant places

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Corncrake Numbers Up

There was an expected rise in the number of people taking in the Outer Hebrides during the benign Summer of '18. However, the increase in the number of corncrakes visiting was particularly appreciated - with 34 males appearing. See in the Stornoway Gazette an account of this influx.

Scottish Islands Explorer - would corncrakes be purchasers
Digital Edition: delivers good news throughout the world in a flash

Monday, 8 October 2018

Pilgrimage to Boreray

Boreray, the 500-acre island in the Sound of Harris, is the subject of a detailed analysis by Alastair McIntosh who visited in 2015. His interests were multiple, but he explores, in particular, the life of St Donnan, who died in 681; how the grandfather of Neil Armstrong, the first man on the Moon, was born there; how his 'pilgrimage' to the island was assisted by its only inhabitant, Jerry Cox. The photographs here were taken by Marc Calhoun and the building above was the island's Free Church, last used in the 1920s.

Scottish Islands Explorer - traces the ways in which islands are approached
Digital Edition: its readership is growing

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Skye in Early Light

The early morning light of Skye is captured here by Andy Dines. His photograph won acclaim and is detailed in the Daily Record. The item is well worth reading … and the image to be enjoyed at length. Further stunning pictures from National Geographic are included in the feature.

Scottish Islands Explorer - promotes similar views
Digital Edition: takes a photo and dispatches it worldwide in a second or so

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Get Out; Get Better

When Andrea Verni photographed the Shetland sunset in 2013, the image made an immediate and timeless impact. Now local GPs are prescribing looking at aspects of nature in order to help cure some medical conditions. So taking an evening stroll, collecting driftwood, listening to birdsong or, perhaps, observing puffins are recommended. See the BBC website for background details and the concept of getting out in order to get better.

Scottish Islands Explorer - now when prescribing includes subscribing!
Digital Edition: treatment available immediately through this channel

Friday, 5 October 2018

Hebridean Dark Skies

The first Hebridean Dark Skies Festival is to be held on the Isle of Lewis from Friday 8 until Tuesday 21 February 2019. Read about the event on the BBC website and consider the paintings of Ron Lawson at the Alpha Art Gallery. His Hebridean Croft House is above and Mannal, Tiree below.

Scottish Islands Explorer - endeavours to display them in the best light
Digital Edition: will come to you at the speed of light … or faster

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Shetland Inset - Out!

From today public bodies will be barred from producing maps of Scotland with the Shetland Isles boxed or inset. The reasons are fully outlined on the BBC website.  

Scottish Islands Explorer - is not a public body

Digital Edition: exists to avoid being boxed in

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Arctic Return

One of the epic journeys of the Arctic Explorer, John Rae, is to be commemorated next year with a 102-mile trek across the Boothia Peninsula, Canada, by the explorer, David Reid, and his team in what is to be called 'Arctic Return'.The Orcadian venturer undertook the hazardous crossing in 1854. Read the details of the planned expedition in The Press and Journal.

Scottish Islands Explorer - drawn to northern territories
Digital Edition: waiting to contact those in distant places

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

From the Moo to You

It's been the ambition of Gordon Mackay, since he left off-shore work, to set up a dairy business on the Isle of Lewis. That's now in operation at Moorpark Farm and its Guernsey herd is producing milk on a commercial scale. That's the first time on the island since 2012. The BBC website has an item; We Love the Westside has details.

Scottish Islands Explorer - looks forward to testing the product
Digital Edition: supplies measured per second

Monday, 1 October 2018

Ships' Shape

The designs of sea-going vessels have certainly changed from Viking times. The welcome sight of the CalMac car deck to a lone cyclist in Stornoway and the contrast of old and new at Haroldswick, Unst, are featured in the current BBC Your Pictures of Scotland. The photo above was taken by Morag Green; the one below by Steven Spence.

Scottish Islands Explorer - the ways of getting around are part of exploration
Digital Edition: has instant appeal