Scottish Island Bagging
Enjoying unforgettable experiences on Scotland's magical islands
Scottish Island Bagging is our guidebook to help you discover the magical islands of Scotland.
What is an island?
The dictionary definition of an island is a piece of land surrounded by water. That sounds simple - too simple. What if it's connected at low tide? What if there's a bridge? How large does it needed to be? Does a sea-stack count?
Existing books tend to focus only on a few islands. Hamish Haswell-Smith defined Scotland's islands as being those over 40 hectares, but he excluded tidal islands and those with bridges or causeways. Hamish is a yachtsman, and his book is a classic guide for those with their own boat. Most of us, though, don't own a yacht - or even a sea kayak.
Our focus is on the islands to which you can catch a ferry or book onto a boat trip to make a visit. We think that Skye and Seil are islands, despite their having bridges, and that the many islands of the Western Isles linked by causeways still retain their individual island identities. We reckon walking over the sands to visit a tidal island is an unmissable adventure in itself. We may be land-lubbers by nature, but we're ones who feel the irresistible draw of the isles. We want to experience the islands in all the best ways we possibly can.
If this sounds like you, then this is your book. Rather than using a strict and sterile definition, we've focussed on the islands that have some sort of connection or means of access, and described our picks of the best ways you can experience each of them. The book also features many other islands which have no regular transport but are still of significant size or interest.
How do you bag an island?
Even if you are happy with your choice of island destination, the question remains: what does it take to 'bag' it? True island-bagging is S-L-O-W tourism. Most people would say you had to at least visit it, but if you simply tag the island and then leave, have you really experienced it?
What makes each island special? There is no one answer, and so there is no single way to bag an island. We think you really need to experience something of each island's unique character. If it's a small island, you might just have a day visit, or you might stay overnight; you could climb its highest hill, or circumnavigate its coastline. You could uncover its history and culture, sample the local island produce, or take part in a community event. The island experiences you choose are entirely up to you... but you do need to go slow and really soak up what each island offers to be able to truly count it as 'bagged'.
We think this idea of island-bagging is the best for everyone. It ensures both the most memorable experiences for would-be island-adventurers, but also the greatest economic benefit to those living on the islands, often dependent on tourism.
Where does it end?
Many hillwalkers, after climbing their first few Munros, find Munro-bagging addictive, even if they try to resist. As they advance it can become all consuming. But at least Munro-bagging has an end point, when that final summit is reached.
Island-bagging, on the other hand, may be more dangerous. You may get a passion for it. You might even visit and experience something on every single one of the islands with ferries, bridges and boats as featured in the book. You might get a kayak or charter a boat to visit the remoter islands. But whatever you do, there will be always be more to visit, more skerries, islets, rocks and stacks to discover.
Once you've started, there is no cure for Scottish island-bagging. You have been warned.