We at HEB Magazine do our best to let the world know exactly what our islands have to offer, and where exactly to find what you're interested in. HEB is printed once a year and thousands of copies are distributed across the Islands.
And the on-line edition - below! - is updated throughout the year with new reports, photographs and information from all across the Islands.
So, just click the download button, or go to our page-turning version, and enjoy learning about the beautiful Scottish Hebrides, and, if you aren’t here already, make sure to plan a visit sometime soon!
The Stornoway RNLI volunteer crew in action as they set off on a shout.
By Eilidh Whiteford
Thursday, December 14th, 2017, saw the volunteer crews at the Outer Hebrides’ oldest and newest Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) stations drop everything to head out to rough seas in gale force winds to the aid of those in danger.
Stornoway RNLI, established in the islands in 1887, and Leverburgh RNLI, founded in 2013, launched at 6pm that night in response to a Pan Pan call – one level down from a full distress Mayday – sent from 54m cargo vessel ‘MV Fame’.
With five persons on-board, the ship found itself in difficulties having lost propulsion power and was drifting 1.2nm offshore west of Scarp, on the west side of Harris.
For the volunteer crew of Stornoway RNLI, it was a shout that would see them at sea for 21 hours; and for two of the newly established Leverburgh RNLI volunteer crew, it was to be their first ever shout.
Drifting towards a rocky shoreline with no means of power amid Force 8-10 winds and a sea swell of up to 6-8metres, the ‘MV Fame’, which had five persons on-board, had anchored in a bid to slow the rate of drift and stop the vessel from grounding.
Coll Pottery in Back on the Isle of Lewis is being brought back to life as a craft centre business by the Whittle family, based for years in Stoneybridge, on the Isle of South Uist, where they ran studios creating glassware and ceramics, Solus Studio and Alan Whittle Ceramics.
The Coll Pottery building –unused for several years and once the national base for Scotia Ceramics - is being extensively remodelled. with new café and gallery areas.
The Whittle family also combine musical skills with a variety of craft accomplishments. Aidan Whittle, aged 22, is a fluent Gaelic speaker, who studied at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and plays the fiddle and pipes. He attended Fèis Tir a Mhurain and Ceòlas for many years as well as the former Taranasay Fiddle Camp, Alasdair Fraser Fiddle week, and Charlie McKerron Fiddle week. As a part owner of Coll Pottery he is setting up as artist blacksmith.
A 19th Century French writer and journalist once said: “Things change, yet stay the same.” At the time his wife probably rolled her eyes and thought, ‘he’s off again!’
But we know what he meant. But he can’t have been thinking about Uig when he said it. Had he known Uig existed, which is rather unlikely.
The stunning Uig landscape may look permanent but up until about 12,000 years ago was covered in sheets of ice many hundreds of feet thick. The ice melted, rounding off the tops of Mealisval and Teanisbhal; gouging out a huge cleft that became loch Suaineval (the deepest loch in Lewis); dumping millions of tons of gravel in what is the Carnish quarry today and creating a mighty river which flowed through Glen Valtos – Lewis’s Grand Canyon in miniature.
A couple of thousand years hurried past before the first hunter/gatherer peoples arrived by sea and made their encampments around the shores of Uig, living on the rich harvest of fish, shellfish and seabirds that the area provided.
Over the centuries sea levels rose and obliterated almost all trace of them. More changes occurred with the arrival of the first farmers around 5000 years ago. They grew crops and introduced the first sheep to the islands.
The Minch has always been a haven for sea life…but there is a growing demand from people to actually go out to see close-up the whales, dolphins, seals, otters and other marine life – and possibly encounter golden eagles, sea eagles or puffins.
Now Stornoway Harbour is the base for regular trips out into the Minch with Hebridean Adventures which offers trips and cruises for all, from keen wildlife enthusiasts to family groups.
Their vessel, the Monadhliath, is a veteran of Scottish waters and can take up to 12 people on half or full-day trips – and is even equipped to take up to eight passengers on overnight trips.
As a traditional vessel rather than a RIB, the Monadhliath has a raised viewing deck which gives spectacular views. She has an external exhaust which makes the vessel quieter underwater and less likely to disturb the cetaceans meaning that often dolphins can be seen bow-riding. Her maximum speed is eight knots.
By Fred Silver
The deadly rage of a long-forgotten night-time storm is recalled in Acair’s book The Wreck of the Annie Jane which tells how the timbers of the wooden sailing ship cracked and splintered. Shivering and praying in almost complete darkness, the victims felt the masts and rigging being swept away, leaving the Annie Jane adrift in an immense storm that took hundreds of lives along the west coasts of Britain and Ireland.
Then with its over-heavy cargo of iron shifting lethally below decks, a vast wave swept across the deck taking all the remaining structures away…along with the lives of almost all those who had fled to the deck from the pitch-dark watery hell below.
Remaining alive…one man with his arms wrapped around the stump of a mast and a woman who hung on with one of her children strapped to her body.
The shattered wreck of the Annie Jane was swept ashore in three parts on the Island of Vatersay in the southern part of the Western Isles and when daylight came on September 29th 1853, only 102 had survived of the total of at least 450, mostly young people, aboard. The average age of both crew and victims was around 22! It is not known exactly how many were killed as those under 10 were not listed as passengers.