Thursday, 31 January 2019

Skye Cycle Way

It's worth looking into the Skye Cycle Way, where Sustrans - which has created thousands of miles of safe-cycling-track throughout the UK - has granted a £54k award. Read more in The Press and Journal.

Scottish Islands Explorer - several ways to explore … on wheels
Digital Edition: getting around the world effortlessly

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Up Helly Aa Again

It's Up Helly Aa time again in Shetland and the BBC Website gives prominence to a sequence of striking images of the events. In part, they mark the re-birth of the sun after a long winter.

Scottish Islands Explorer - appears regularly every eight weeks
Digital Edition: comes to life whenever summoned

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Hillswick Upgrade

The Hillswick Animal Sanctuary, Shetland, is lined up to receive half-a-million-pounds for upgrading its facilities. Look into the acquisition of funding from two major sources through The Press and Journal. The Sanctuary was founded in 1987 when Jan Bevington, who continues to run the organisation with her husband, discovered an abandoned seal on the beach at Hillswick.

Scottish Islands Explorer - no public funds, just subscriptions
Digital Edition: for human consumption only

Monday, 28 January 2019

Lookout ...and More

The Lookout Bothy on the Isle of Skye was used as a coastguard station as late as the 1970s, while the Camasunary Bothy to the south of the island is a comparatively new-build. The work of the Mountain Bothies Association is featured in a well-illustrated and highly-informative article in The Guardian.

Scottish Islands Explorer - bothies enable access to the off-grid
Digital Edition: unlikely to reach many such places

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Good to Work and Stay

The top end of Unst, Shetland, has attracted The Press and Journal with its article on one of the more remote and extensive postal rounds in the UK. The 30-mile route of Michelle McCulloch serves about 200 houses and 650 people. She calls at Bordanoost Lodge, recently sold, but having provided much-appreciated accommodation.

Scottish Islands Explorer - attracted to the more distant
Digital Edition: reaches the remote rapidly

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Best Place to Live?

According to the Halifax Bank of Scotland Quality of Life Survey, Orkney is considered the best place to live in the UK. Richmond in North Yorkshire came second and Rutland third. See the details on the BBC Website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - the best magazine about the islands?
Digital Edition: an effective and inexpensive way to access the magazine

Friday, 25 January 2019

Skye - 56 Million Years Ago

Were the figure in this image to be walking on Skye some 56 million years ago - a Luke Skywalker from Star Wars, perhaps - then he may have encountered a vast volcanic eruption which had a profound climactic and geological effect. The details of the major activity are on the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - goes back only some 20 years
Digital Edition: even more recent in activity

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Love and Music ... and Talk

Love And Music Will Endure is an historical novel by Liz Macrae Smith based on the life, times and words of Mary MacDonald of Skye (1821 - 1898) who became the acclaimed Gaelic poet and activist, Mairi Mhor nan Oran. The author will be giving a talk on her subject at the Museum Nan Eilean, Stornoway, on Wednesday 30 January at 19.00. This event, with tickets at £5.00, is being promoted by The Islands Book Trust and may be booked by emailing here.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has the services of a Gaelic Consultant
Digital Edition: covers the world in a flash

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Lunar Eclipse

This photograph was taken at 04.44 yesterday morning from Rousay, Orkney, by John Vetterlein. His observations about the phenomenon can be read and further images seen here.

Scottish Islands Explorer - comes out regularly, not once in a blue moon
Digital Edition: copies streak across the skies to subscribers

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

The Ulva Urge

The appeal to re-populate the island of Ulva has stirred many people to think about and to show an interest in re-settling there. Read about this phenomenon in yesterday's edition of The Times or remind yourself of the effort to invigorate the community through an earlier blog.

Scottish Islands Explorer - some may have responded by reading this blog
Digital Edition: many will have checked Ulva's internet connection strengths

Monday, 21 January 2019

Closure On Cards

Here's the Tarbert terminal on Harris without the CalMac ferry in dock. Closure for five or so days is unavoidable and imminent while updated facilities are installed. So the route from Uig, on Skye, will involve crossing to Lochmaddy, on North Uist, and taking the Sound of Harris ferry. Read about the engineering features in the West Highland Free Press.

Scottish Islands Explorer - delays can be factored into its eight-week cycle
Digital Edition: seldom stops working  

Sunday, 20 January 2019

A Railway on Skye?

From 1890 until 1915 a 2ft narrow-gauge railway operated along a 2.7-mile track at Lealt, on Skye, in order to take extracted diatomite to a jetty. It has recently come into the news for part of its track has been  footpath which is to be removed. The story is in The Press and Journal.

Diatomite is a chalk-like substance used in filtration, abrasives, toothpaste, thermal insulators, blood-clotting agencies and soils for plants such as bonsai.

Scottish Islands Explorer - likes making new discoveries
Digital Edition: on broadband rather than narrow-gauge

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Rae Revival

There has been over the past few years a revival of interest in the life and work of Dr John Rae (1813-1893), the eminent Orcadian, Arctic explorer. His name has been entered for a posthumous mapping award. Go to The Orcadian for details.

Scottish Islands Explorer - will it receive an award in the 23rd Century?
Digital Edition: reaches with ease parts that Rae mapped with difficulties

Friday, 18 January 2019

Fare Finding

The Road Equivalent Tariff on CalMac's services on the West Coast has seen a reduction in fares and an increase in use. However, local residents sometimes have problems at peak times in booking cars because visitors have secured places well in advance. So there is a proposal to introduce higher tariffs for the more popular journeys on certain routes. It sounds like ticketing for London commutes. See the story of the BBC website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - consistent pricing in place
Digital Edition: low tariffs at all times 

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Young and Old

Young children on the beach at Lionacleit, Benbecula, contrast with the recent remarkable old finds by archaeologists in the vicinity. The BBC website gives full details of ancient objects unearthed.

Scottish Islands Explorer - brings incidentals and images to the surface
Digital Edition: what will it yield for generations in centuries time?

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Sea Stacks and Solitude

Here's an appeal. Scottish Islands Explorer has exhausted its stocks of the DVD compiled by the late Chris Mylne, who was a teacher and missionary on St Kilda before becoming a film producer. So if anyone could sell or direct us to a copy of his Sea Stacks and Solitude featuring St Kilda in 1966 and Fair Isle in 1978, it would be appreciated. If appropriate, please respond to the Editor.

Scottish Islands Explorer - enjoys featuring these two distinctive island groups
Digital Edition: by-passes print and video formats

Tuesday, 15 January 2019


It looks small and is such - Inchmarnock - beyond Bute deserves further exploration through Lonely Isles. Once 30 residents, now zilch.

Scottish Islands Explorer - ready for revival
Digital Edition: ready to access

Monday, 14 January 2019

'Worldering Around'

There's something about starting the week slowly and thinking of what there is to do rather than what has to be done. Take the attitudes of Aga, for example, and follow her Worldering Around blog when it presents views of the Isle of Mull and some of its off-shore islets. It could involve going from a Monday meandering to a life of exploration.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a good publication with which to begin
Digital Edition: and a fast way to get away

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Jura Deer

The name of Jura may have come from the Norse for the 'Island of Deer' or from the Gaelic work 'diura' meaning resilient or durable. The herds of deer have been both resilient and prolific, with early writers mentioning some 300 of the creatures and the current number of around 7,000. The image below was taken by Konrad Borkowski on Jura with the background of the Caol Ila Distillery across the Sound of Islay. Take  look at his products on the website.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has durable qualities
Digital Edition: robust with remote access

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Cross the Sound to Run

There's a new custom in Shetland - cross the Sound of Bressay from Lerwick and take the Parkrun. Some 40 people a week are doing just that and they are coming from far and wide. The BBC website has the story.

Scottish Islands Explorer - why not run for a copy from your newsagent?
Digital Edition: it will run to you at speed

Friday, 11 January 2019

Land in Shetland

Here's an interesting contrast. Objections have been raised concerning the proposed building of new houses close to the Clickmin Broch, Lerwick. See Shetland News. Separately, 40 acres of land and a demolished valve house adjacent to a Shetland loch remain on sale at £60k, but without, as yet, planning permission for development. Go to Zoopla.

Scottish Islands Explorer - plenty of choice for living as well as exploring
Digital Edition: a crucial factor in choosing locations

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Loganair's New Aircraft

Here is an Embraer 145 aircraft which will soon appear in Loganair livery operating on Benbecula and Manchester routes. The details of the improved services are in the Stornoway Gazette.

Scottish Islands Explorer - distribution aided by air mail
Digital Edition: distribution at the speed of light

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Rocket Perspectives

2019 has seen a rocket going beyond Pluto and sending back images of Ultima Thule (below). 1934 was the year when the German scientist, Gerhart Zucker, tried to send mail from Scarp to North Harris (above). His experiment failed, but was part of a project that commenced with a similar attempt, which had proved a little more successful, in rocketing 600 items of mail across the Solent to the Isle of Wight. There were hopes of creating a regular service from Dover to Calais and from England to Ireland. Read about it in the Isle of Wight County Press.

Scottish Islands Explorer - mainly dispatched on terra firma
Digital Edition: travels through space effortlessly

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Suitable for Ulva?

Ulva is recruiting … for residents with aptitude and skills. Read the report in The Press and Journal to see whether you would fit in. The island once had 800 residents and so it's accustomed to numbers, despite being down to almost single figures at present. The recent community buyout attracted attention as well as funds. Now to encourage a larger permanent population.

Scottish Islands Explorer - permanent subscribers always welcome
Digital Edition: an inexpensive way to begin

Monday, 7 January 2019

Orkney's Branches

Getting around the islands in the Orkney group and undertaking financial work for the Royal Bank of Scotland has demanded making some 11,000 flights over the years. Read about Anne Rendall's involvement in the current issue of the Sunday Times.

Scottish Islands Explorer - has to been flown to many retailers
Digital Edition: does not rely on commercial aviation

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Shetland Sky

Linda Geddes writes in the New Scientist, 'In Shetland, doctors are handing out some unconventional prescriptions. Along with regular therapies, people with a range of physical and mental ills are being told to take in the sounds and smells of seabird colonies, build woodland dens or simply appreciate the shapes of clouds. A similar scheme in New Zealand found that, six to eight months after receiving a 'green prescription', two-thirds of patients were more active and felt healthier, and almost half had lost weight. Meanwhile, so called eco-therapy which involves participating in outdoor activities such as gardening or conservation, is emerging as a promising treatment for mild to moderate depression.' 

At least, take a look at a blog devoted to Shetland Sky and the photography of Richard Ashbee.

Scottish Islands Explorer - always looking up as well as out
Digital Edition: images and ideas conveyed in an instant

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Island Rescue Nomination

The sea cliffs of St Kilda are high and some sections of those on Soay (above) have probably never been climbed. This photograph was taken by Adrian Warren, who died in 2011. Last year a man of 87 found himself fortunate to be alive following a fall on nearby Hirta and a dramatic rescue operation. It is recounted here in The Press and Journal and has been nominated for an award.

Scottish Islands Explorer - often features the remarkable archipelago
Digital Edition: good for reading about remote places

Friday, 4 January 2019

Burns Night Supper

The Isle of Raasay Distillery is hosting a rather special Burns Night Supper at 19.30 on Saturday 26 January in their atmospheric Gathering Room. Tickets are £25 and there is much on offer. Take a look at the menu by clicking here.

Scottish Islands Explorer - can picture comparable events worldwide
Digital Edition: is able to supply them with copies 

Thursday, 3 January 2019

A Peninsular Property

Here's a new year opportunity - a seven double-bedroom property standing on its own peninsula in the busy village of Leverburgh, where the Sound of Harris ferry departs, suitable for self-catering, bed-and-breakfast accommodation or for a large family - on the market for offers over £395k. Take a look around by clicking here.

Scottish Islands Explorer - enjoys featuring places to live
Digital Edition: carries copy anywhere at anytime

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

The Other British Isles

There are 82 inhabited off-shore British isles in the UK, with the majority of them in Scotland. A BBC item provides interesting insights.

Scottish Islands Explorer - looks around many of them
Digital Edition: accessed from the vast majority 

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

'In Good Condition'

Divers working for Scottish Natural Heritage have reported that marine life around St Kilda is 'in good condition'. News of this kind is welcomed at a time when the media appears to relish the pssimistic. So turn with pleasure to the BBC website for a full account and images that make an impact.

Scottish Islands Explorer - a magazine that is flourishing
Digital Edition: do take a New Year dip into your funds for a tenner