SPIEGEL: Ms. Webster, the island bagging trend, translates to setting foot on as many of Britain's 706 islands as possible. Nature becomes a sporty show stage. Her book is called "Scottish Island Bagging" - but you have a different approach.
Helen Webster: We are trying to recast the term with our book. We encourage our readers to discover as many different Scottish islands as possible. But without haste. For us, "bagging" means getting to know the islands - climbing mountains, watching otters, enjoying local food. This is a life task and not a to-do list that you can quickly work through.
SPIEGEL: What fascinates you about these islands?
Webster: If you put the ocean between yourself and your everyday life, you can switch off better. When I saw the first one or two Scottish islands, I became addicted. Each one is unique. Just like on the mainland, you can move freely anywhere in nature - that's what's called "right to roam" in Scotland. In England or Wales, on the other hand, there are more advertised trails to walk on.
SPIEGEL: What is the best way to reach them?
Webster: 99 of the islands described in the book are relatively easy to get to by ferry. The crossings take an average of one to two hours. The approximately 160 kilometers from the mainland remote Shetland islands, however, can only be reached by overnight ferry - in the summer you can even observe dolphins and whales in the crossing. Other mini-islands can only be reached on foot at low tide.
SPIEGEL: Which of these has impressed you the most?
Webster: The sunny island of Erraid near the island of Mull. It is exciting to watch the sea slowly recede and clear a footpath to the island. There is really only room for a lighthouse station, sheep, vegetable gardens and a few cottages. The island is also known as one of the scenes of the novel "kidnapped" by Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson.
14 picturesIsland hopping in Scotland: Away from everyday life
SPIEGEL: Winter is coming. Are all accommodations tight now?
Webster: No, the islands are fantastic even in the colder months. You can join in celebrating Ceilidhs - traditional local festivals -, there are literature and music festivals, on Skye in February even a winter festival for climbers. One should plan in the winter only a little ahead, because the ferries do not drive so often.
SPIEGEL: Do not the locals, at least in winter, want to avoid tourists?
Webster: Not at all. The people are incredibly friendly and happy about everyone who comes. On Foula, the westernmost Shetland island with only twelve inhabitants, we met a twelve-year-old boy, who likes to show families from abroad the island and plans activities with children. How many people he has met is amazing.
SPIEGEL: Your best winter experience on one of the islands?
Webster: The refractory "Up Helly Aa" on the main island of the Shetlands in January. It is to remember the time when Shetland was still a stronghold of the Vikings. Sang and danced for over 40 hours, a replica Viking ship goes up in flames at the end of the day. Of course, a lot of whiskey is consumed. Thereafter the island sleeps for at least two days.
Island Rating by Helen Webster
The most beautiful islands for beach fans
"The Outer Hebrides, light white sand, and in the spring a colorful flower behind it, you can walk for miles on the beaches without meeting a human soul, but beware: it may look tropical, but once you put your foot into the water, you realize how ice cold the water is, and my favorite island is Harris. "
The most beautiful island for young adventurers
"Skye is an incredibly diverse landscape with many mountains for climbing and beautiful coastal sections for cliff diving in wetsuit and, of course, Arran, an island in western Scotland with a lively pub and café scene and lots of outdoor activities, the island is also suitable for a day trip: from Glasgow can take a train in about 40 minutes directly to the ferry terminal in Ardrossan and from there take the ferry to Brodick in 55 minutes. "
A remote gem with few tourists
"I've lost my heart to Colonsay, there's amazingly beautiful beaches, a historic church with Celtic artifacts, a gin and beer brewery on the 40-square-kilometer Inner Hebrides island and, since 2014, a reserve for the European Dark Bee You can meet the beekeepers there, taste the honey or visit a beekeeper workshop. "
The best island for wildlife watching
"My favorite is the pristine island of Jura northeast of the larger island of Islay, which is also known for its whiskey, there are few visitors and inhabitants, but more otters, lots of red deer and white-tailed eagle, whale watching 'Should be in the summer on Skye or the island of Mull.' Orca can be seen well on the Shetlands or the Orkney Archipelago. "
SPIEGEL: Many islands have a fragile ecosystem. Should one advertise for even more visitors?
Webster: Of course you have to be careful with nature. However, apart from Arran or Skye, most of the islands are never really overcrowded, and the weather and lavish approach scares off many. But it's important to show people the flora and fauna and raise awareness of the fragility of the ecosystem. Only then are people ready to fight for their preservation. "Come to our island," says the owners of the island of Eigg, for example, to the Inner Hebrides, a community made up mostly of farmers and fishermen. "If you get to know the island from our perspective, we can better keep it for the future." It is also possible to volunteer for projects on the island, for example cleaning the beaches of garbage.
SPIEGEL: So Eigg has private owners - can anyone buy islands in Scotland?
Webster: Yes, but buyers are mostly communities. The Scottish Government has supported this for about ten years. The prerequisite is that buyers have an interest in sustainably managing the site and generating income for the locals. Young families are attracting more and more back to the islands. There are also initiatives that promote people's retention and promotion. The population is constantly rising.
SPIEGEL: What was your best moment on one of the islands?
Webster: We like to camp. This is a nice micro adventure for us. On the island of Muck (Inner Hebrides) we once stayed overnight in a Mongolian yurt. In the middle of a field and surrounded by sheep, overlooking the beach and the mountains of the neighboring island. At sunset, dolphins sprang out of the water. That was magical!
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10.12.2019, 07:45 clock
Webster, Helen, Webster, Paul
Scottish Island Bagging: The Walkhighlands Guide to the Islands of Scotland
Vertebrate Graphics Ltd
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