Paul Murton sets out to experience island life today. He uncovers the past and reveals its connections with the present, pointing to the quirky, the surprising and the beautiful lying just offshore.
Part 1: The Riddle of the Sands: From Berneray to Pabbay
Paul Murton continues his island odyssey, exploring the remote and fascinating places which scatter our coastline, and meeting the people who call these islands home. On this Grand Tour, Paul is exploring a cluster of islands in the Outer Hebrides. Lying just off the North Uist coast is princely Berneray, where his journey begins. From there he heads south to capture the colours of Grimsay, and then weaves through the marram grass of Kirkibost, to end on the deserted whisky island of Pabbay.
Part 2: Bridging the Gap: Scarp, Great Bernera and Scalpay
This grand tour takes Paul around the coast of the Long Island of Harris and Lewis, beginning on Scarp, travelling north to Great Bernera, then south east to Scalpay. These islands may seem to exist in the shadow of their much larger neighbours but Paul discovers they have a distinct identity all of their own, as he hears remarkable stories of crofter rebellions, rocket mail and a rich local culture.
Part 3: Against the Odds: Out Skerries, Whalsay and Papa Stour
Paul explores the eastern outposts of Shetland – Papa Stour, Whalsay and the Out Skerries, encountering along the way newborn lambs, ancient ruins and traditional Shetland sword dancing. Paul’s journey reveals a bittersweet story of islands where life seems to continue against the odds, in the face of declining populations and the challenges that come with being so remote. But in all of the three islands Paul explores, he discovers they have their own voice, made proud and distinctive by the determination of the islanders to keep their communities alive.
Part 4: Land of Giants and Faeries: Northern Skye
Paul heads to the northernmost spur of Skye – the stunningly beautiful Trotternish Peninsula. The Isle of Skye is an intoxicating mix of all that is great about Scotland’s islands, and the dramatic landscape of the north embraces everything from lava-twisted rocks to stunning waterfalls. Paul begins his adventure at one of the star attractions of this part of the island, the Old Man of Storr, and his journey takes him on journey of discovery following in the footsteps of the dinosaurs who once walked this land, through the enchanted fairy glen and out to the seldom-visited Fladda-Chuain islands.
Part 5: War and Peace in the North: From Flottay to Sanday
On this journey Paul crosses the great natural harbour of Scapa Flow to the island of Flotta, before heading round the main island of Orkney to Stronsay, and from there travelling north to the stunning beaches of Sanday. Along the way Paul discovers stories of World War One, a mysterious beast, and Orkney selkies.
Part 6: Off the Map: North Rona and the Monach Islands
Paul embarks on his most difficult island Grand Tour to date. Every destination has been long abandoned by people, there are no ferries, no piers or proper landings at these islands making it quite a challenge to get there. Paul’s journey sees him travel to the once-inhabited island of Heisgeir, sail around the gannet city of Sula Sgeir and endure rough seas to finally make landfall on the extraordinarily remote island of North Rona.