Monday, 31 December 2018

Light on Old Year

Fidra Lighthouse in the Firth of Forth, photographed by Douglas Law, is a fitting symbol for the end of the year when we reflect and recall. It features in the BBC Your Pictures of Scotland, where there are a few island images, but many photographs displaying water.

Scottish Islands Explorer - much to look back on
Digital Edition: time for a New Year present?

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Different and Distinctive

An Lanntair, in Stornoway, plans to show films on selected Sundays in 2019 following a trial period earlier this year. Supporters of the local tradition of keeping the Sabbath as free as possible from secular activities have objected. The Press and Journal carries the story. Now that the 'streaming' of sounds and sights by digital technologies enables listening and viewing to take place domestically, it's remarkable that public screenings are attended anywhere, let alone on Lewis with its different and distinctive customs.

Scottish Islands Explorer - appreciates local customs
Digital Edition: a part of the new ways

Saturday, 29 December 2018

Celebratory Sailing

The MS Magellan sets sail from Dundee on Saturday 14 June 2019 for a cruise to Norway and then around several Scottish islands. It's to commemorate the heritage of the newspaper publishers, D C Thomson, (including The Press and Journal and The Courier) with their shipping company established in the 19th Century. This venture looks good and the two-for-one fare rather fine. Take  look here - for this is the first day of the promotion of their celebratory cruise.

Scottish Islands Explorer - let the Magellan take you exploring
Digital Edition: treat yourself for under a tenner

Friday, 28 December 2018

Gregorian? No, Julian!

"Look out, behind you!" could be applied to these three on Foula, the distant Shetland isle. They may not be aware that in 1582, when Scotland adopted the new Gregorian calendar with the rest of Britain, Foula retained the Julian version. A report in The Scottish Sun, of a year ago, explains what happened next and has recurred ever since.

Scottish Islands Explorer - no plans to change its bi-monthly appearance
Digital Edition: deals with timing and distance in a flash

Thursday, 27 December 2018

In Need of Island Images

When a photograph of the lighthouse at Lossiemouth, taken by Gillian Brown, looks like an oil painting, then you know the gallery of images in the BBC Your Pictures of Scotland makes excellent viewing. There is, however, a complete absence of island scenes. Maybe the 21 - 28 December selection will include its customary collection?

Scottish Islands Explorer - cameras to be at the ready
Digital Edition: exports images with ease

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Waking on Boxing Day

Here's the place to wake on a Boxing Day morning. There will have been a party last night at Berneray with convivial company, for the Gatliff Hostels customarily draw an interesting number of individuals over the festive season. See how the organisation operates and resolve to pay a visit in the New Year season or at some time throughout 2019.

Scottish Islands Explorer - the hostels are entry-points for exploration
Digital Edition: still time to create a present on the traditional day for giving

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Still Time to Gift

There's still time to gift … a subscription to Scottish Islands Explorer and its digital edition. The cost is under tenner (£10 sterling) for six issues lasting a whole year. Just click on below and you will be taken to the portal for payment and presentation. Seasonal Greetings!

Scottish Islands Explorer - a present that will continue throughout 2019
Digital Edition: click for service and a surprise for family and friends

Monday, 24 December 2018

The Essence of Orkney

Here are two photographs of Orkney - above from and below from McKinlay Kidd - that well depict feature aspects of the archipelago. However, for a gallery of images for which you can vote, go to The Essence of Orkney. It's promoted by The Orcadian and a number of sponsors.

Scottish Islands Explorer - promotes images showing the essence of islands
Digital Edition: conveys photos fast

Sunday, 23 December 2018

An Ultimate Destination

Here's a distant shelter - one of the five bothies on Sula Sgeir - some 40 miles north of Port of Ness at the extremity of the Isle of Lewis. The 'gannet skerry' is renowned for the annual cull of its young birds, served as delicacies. Here also are the remains of a small temple, Taigh Bheannaich, which was, allegedly, the home of St Brenhilda in the 6th Century.

On the south side, there is a distinctively-shaped lighthouse which warns shipping in these unpredictable waters. This is a summer-only destination and then for explorers of a robust nature or for the Men of Ness who are engaged in the activity which is permitted by an Act of Parliament.

Scottish Islands Explorer - one of the ultimate destinations
Digital Edition: most likely would need  satellite device

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Canna Claymore Stolen

The Press and Journal has a report about the theft of a 7' long claymore from the Museum on the Isle of Canna. It's a mystery.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has relatively little crime to report
Digital Edition: formed of inconsequential material, but good content!

Friday, 21 December 2018

Loganair and Stobart

From March 2019, Loganair and Stobart Aviation Services will join forces, in a five-year contract, at Glasgow and Edinburgh Airports. Aircraft will be provided by the former to destinations, including the Scottish islands; ground-handling will be undertaken by the latter.

Scottish Islands Explorer - some copies will be flying
Digital Edition: its own links provided

Thursday, 20 December 2018


Gairsay, Orkney, is just under one square mile in size and rises to a conical 335' with both a triangulation point and a cairn. Some collectors of these features will be drawn, whereas others may be attracted by the production of 'Cinderella stamps'.

Its population plunged from 71 in 1841 to zero just over a hundred years later, although in earlier times the mansion at Langskaill was the home of Sir William Craigie, Member of Parliament.

This south-facing residential site has seen several properties built including one that was modernised when new owners took possession 50 years ago. Their means of transport is into the pier at the sheltered Millburn Bay, protected by the Hen of Gairsay some 70' high and attached to the rest of the island by a narrow neck of land.

Scottish Islands Explorer - Can anyone produce an article on Gairsay?
Digital Edition: should be accessible

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

An Ultimate Ascent

There is something compelling about the sea-cliffs of Foula as well as about those individuals who get pleasure out of climbing them. Take a high-resolution YouTube view of two such men, one of whom said he was frightened by … fulmars.

Scottish Islands Explorer - takes the stress out of some activities
Digital Edition: accustomed to connecting through heights

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

The Shed

The Shed at Tokavaig, Skye, has been listed by The Modern House as one of the outstanding designs built in 2018. Do take a look around.

Scottish Islands Explorer - intrigued by architecture
Digital Edition: not easily contained

Monday, 17 December 2018

A Remote Eleven

This was one of the most remote residences in Britain. It's at Mulhagery, in The Pairc on the south-east coast of the Isle of Lewis. The Gamekeeper's House was once home to a family which grew with the births of eleven children. Norman Macdonald (1830) and his wife Isabella Thomson (1833) had Catherine (1851); Duncan (1853); Norman (1854); Mary Ann (1856); John (1860); Donald (1862); Marion (1865); Murdo John (1867); Isabella (1874); Norman (1876) who died in infancy and Norman (1878).

Scottish Islands Explorer - drawn to the remote
Digital Edition: takes information to isolation

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Picts to Vikings

Old Scatness has some history as a settlement. It's in the South Mainland of Shetland and illustrates how one culture, in this case Pictish, developed a 'residential area' that was taken over by another, Viking. Then it became a ruin, to be resurrected with archaeological discoveries during airport construction work. Now there's a possibility that its status could be enhanced as a World Heritage Site. More details are in Shetland News.

Scottish Islands Explorer - brings history to the surface
Digital Edition: transmits regardless of culture and distance

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Eco-House With View

Grand Designs attracts us to other people's houses and concepts of residency. Here's a house to dwell on (as well as in) that's on the Isle of Skye. To learn more, click here.

Scottish Islands Explorer - likes looking in as well as beyond
Digital Edition: lends itself to the minimalist approach

Friday, 14 December 2018

Skye, Mull and ... Mars

Here is part of the Black Cuillins on Skye which are not often confused with the red planet, Mars. However, recent research has suggested that there are similarities between the soils of Skye and Mull with the ground covering on Mars. Follow the connections on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - tends to be down-to-earth
Digital Edition: more ethereal by nature

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Schools Hebridean Society

The Schools Hebridean Society was founded by John Abbott in 1962. The first camp that he organised was on Gometra and many subsequent ones followed. Rhenigidale (below) is featured on the Gatliff Hebridean Hostels Trust website following the expedition there in 1974. The picture above is from an encampment at Lord Salisbury's Dam. Take a look at the website of the now defunct organisation, but, if you have memories of involvement, do respond to the appeal by Tom Abbott. He is raising funds for Alzheimer's UK following his father being diagnosed with the condition.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has carried articles on the SHS
Digital Edition: the organisation had ceased before this system opened

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

New Estates

The type of estate above - Soval in the Western Isles - is unlikely to increase, but the property-style estates are destined to grow there according to a report in The Press and Journal. Moves are afoot to attract the young by providing more housing.

Scottish Islands Explorer - always looking for growth
Digital Edition: has the potential to expand rapidly

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Dark Skies Winner

Casey McIntyre, of Berneray, has won a photographic competition that's a prelude to The Hebridean Dark Skies Festival to be held in February 2019. Read about this image and the events to come - on the BBC Website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - tends to look out and around rather than up
Digital Edition: traverses the heights regardless of light

Monday, 10 December 2018

Home Alone

Populations vary on islands and a few, such as Eilean da Mheinn, are recorded as one. It has 7.4 acres, is some hundred yards to the west of Crinan, in Argyll & Bute, and ironically has a name meaning island of the two mines. The mooring of boats in this area is so popular that anchoring off parts of the island is no longer possible.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has more readers on Tristan da Cunha
Digital Edition: serves any number with ease

Sunday, 9 December 2018

An Easdale Opportunity

The Puffer Café and Pub on Easdale is up for sale, offering an opportunity for a prospective proprietor. The details are in The Press and Journal. The short ferry journey to the island brings visitors on a daily basis throughout the season. Each September the World Skimming Championships attract some 300 contestants from many countries.

Scottish Islands Explorer - for studying or skimming
Digital Edition: skims in split-seconds to global destinations

Saturday, 8 December 2018


Across the road in Garyvard - featured here yesterday - is a two-bedroomed house, with a garden, vegetable plot, artist's studio, access to a harbour and jetty plus stunning views. Seahaven is open to offers over £125k and can be viewed through Zoopla.

Scottish Islands Explorer - likes what it sees
Digital Edition: conveys the creative

Friday, 7 December 2018

The Poet's Garden

The South Lochs area of the Isle of Lewis has much to offer and a contemporary house at Garyvard - the Poet's Garden - is something special. Take a look through Zoopla and see what's on offer - at around £127.5k.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has much space to offer
Digital Edition: every property needs access to broadband

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Faray Wind Farm

When the Orkney Islands Council showed an interest in purchasing Faray and adjacent islands, it was driven by an interest to undertake wind farm development there. One of its strategies is to create a 'carbon neutral' county. The area is certainly rich in resources of wind and wave forces. Read more in The Orcadian.

Scottish Islands Explorer - the final stage of a publishing force
Digital Edition: dependent on waves of a different kind

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Among the Highly-listed

It's not hard to see why - on merely glancing at this photo of Luskentyre, Harris - the Scottish islands are listed on the world's top travel destinations. Study the report in The Press and Journal.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a magazine featuring special places …
Digital Edition: … that can be accessed in an instant

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Viewed from Beyond

An article in the New York Times considers the interests of residents as well as visitors to Shetland.

Scottish Islands Explorer - words woven to give insights
Digital Edition: traverses the Atlantic in a thrice

Monday, 3 December 2018

Bus Service Survey

As more cars feature in everyday life for both residents and visitors in the Western Isles, the bus service requirements need to be monitored. The Council has set up a survey - operating from today until Saturday 15 December. Details are in a Stornoway Gazette item. If you have a request, then put out your hand - to the computer keyboard.

Scottish Islands Explorer - loves the route from the Butt to Barra
Digital Edition: load your copy for reading on the bus 

Sunday, 2 December 2018

The Appeal of Eday

Yesterday's blog saw a substantial number of visitors considering the invitation to look at an Eday property. The Orkney island may have a rainbow appeal to some or sufficient to encourage a sunny disposition in others. It is over ten square miles in size; is eight miles long and narrows to around 500 yards wide in the middle; has around 150 residents which is much lower than almost a thousand in the mid-19th Century.

Farming is the significant occupation and the settlement pattern tends to be around the coast with no one area claiming to be the main 'village'. However, the production of energy plays an important role in the local economy. Eday has the highest standing stone in the island group, with this couple being dwarfed by the 15' Stone of Settter.  They do not look daunted. Look into things a little more closely by clicking here.

Scottish Islands Explorer - not daunted by distance
Digital Edition: thrives on getting places