Archive for the 'Europe' Category

Island Collector Seeks to Bag Rockall

Thursday, May 13th, 2010


A Scot known as Islandman has gained permission to visit, and sleep on, Rockall.

Rockall is the most isolated outpost of the British Isles, and is well northwest of Ireland. It strains the definition of island, as it is only 80 by 100 feet, and has almost no vegetation or even flat surfaces. No visits to the crag are recorded before 1810, and only four people are known to have slept there.

Islandman, also called Andy Strangeway, is an extreme island collector, and has slept on all Scottish islands of more than 40 hectares, and some 168 Scottish islands in all. On 94 of them, he was the only person sleeping on the island.

The Loch Islands of Islay

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Islay_ifyr_FlickrIslayblog.com, which covers the Inner Hebridean island of Islay, in Scotland, is doing a series of pictures of islands on the island. Here’s the first post about it.

Islay has some interesting double islands, including Eilean Mor and Eilean na Comhairle (Council Island) in Loch Finlaggan, which served as administrative centers for the Lords of the Isles and Clan Donald.

Image courtesy ifyr, Flick
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Bleriot: 100 Years since the First Island Flight

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

Bleriot by Smudge_9000 on FlickrToday is the centennial of Louis Bleriot’s making the first powered flight to the island of Great Britain, from France across the English Channel.

Balloons had made the trip before, but this first flight via airplane changed island geography. Ships were no longer the only means of reaching them, and isolation decreased rapidly as the speed of aircraft increased. And, in the First and Second World Wars, Great Britain and other islands were to discover that airplanes greatly diminished their status as fortresses.

It is not clear whether this was the first powered flight to any island; did aviators fly before this to the Isle of Wight, Long Island, or Manhattan, for instance?

(Image courtesy Smudge 9000, Flickr)

A bridge to Sicily?

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

The Washington Post reports an odd bit of fallout from the global financial crisis: Italy is considering boosting public spending by accelerating the long-discussed bridge to Sicily.

This would be the first fixed connection to the island in thousands of years, since ice-age landbridges were submerged by rising sea levels.

The article notes that Japan’s efforts to spend its way out of recession in the 1990s “produced a herd of white elephants including new, but little-used airports and ports, as well as a $250 million bridge to Kourijima Island,” population 361.

Grant Aldonas, a former American trade official, warns of a general problem: “There is a huge danger of bridges to nowhere.”

Sicily
Image courtesy NASA.

Dutch island builders may bring it home

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

Dubai had apparently seized the mantle of champion geoscapers from the Dutch, as whacky island schemes such as the giant palm and The World grew off the Persian Gulf emirate.

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It seems that the Dutch were the hidden hand behind the emirate’s schemes all along: firms from the Netherlands have been central to the macroengineering island projects off Dubai.

Now they may bring it home. A Dutch government agency has proposed building an island off the coast of the Netherlands — and some have suggested it should be in the shape of a tulip. A 400-square-mile tulip.

This may or may not be a good idea, but it would at least make for the long-standing Dutch habit of destroying their islands through polder and dam building.

An island in Liechtenstein?

Monday, March 5th, 2007

Islands are found everywhere, and only a few countries — Bhutan, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, and the Vatican City — have defied all my attempts to locate islands within their borders.
Liechtenstein may be giving in — is this the Alpine microstate’s only island?  Maybe one of the 34,000 Liechtensteiners, or a traveler, could confirm.  It is in the south, at Neugrutt, near Balzers.

Ancient Tuvan fortress island

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

Tuva Online recently covered a very rare thing: a Siberian lake island with an ancient fortress.

Near Mongolia but on the Russian side of the border, the ruined Uigur fortress is called Por-Bazhyn, and is on an island in Lake Tere-Khol. The rectangular fortress is visible in satellite photos.

A disputed island in the Black Sea

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

Ukraine and Romania appear to be saying that they will let an international court rule on Zmeiny (“serpent”), a disputed island in the northwestern Black Sea.

Administered by Ukraine, it is pretty much the sole island of significance in the Black Sea, and also it’s most isolated.

[border disputes, Ukrainian  geography]

The Isle of Man’s place in the UK?

Thursday, October 19th, 2006

A reader asks: “Looking through your page on the largest islands of Great Britain, could you tell me where would the Isle of Man be in this compilation?”

The list is of islands of the United Kingdom, hence the omission: the Isle of Man is not part of the UK, but a separately administered crown dependency.

At about 571 sq. km, it would be the 8th largest island in the UK if it were part of the UK.

Saving Mont-Saint-Michel

Saturday, June 24th, 2006

The Washington Post today reports on efforts to preserve the islandness of Mont-Saint-Michel, the island abbey off the north coast of France. The historic rocky islet “is succumbing to a relentless invasion of silt and sea grass, which are surrounding the island and threatening to make it part of the mainland.

Part of the 19th century causeway will be replaced with a bridge.

Says a leader of the project to hold back the encroaching land, “If we don’t do anything at all, in 40 years Mont-Saint-Michel will be part of the continent.”

“Being an island is part of its strong identity — a gem in the sea,” says the mayor of the island, which has a population of 26 but is visited by 3 million people a year.

Long a pilgrimage destination, its island nature also has symbolic significance:

Brother François, who heads a group of six brothers and five sisters from the Monastic Fraternities of Jerusalem who conduct services in the abbey, said Mont-Saint-Michel was laden with powerful religious symbolism that is important to protect — the mountaintop, the story of the archangel’s appearance, the sand flats where pilgrims wander, waiting for the parting of the sea at low tide.

After the causeway was built in 1879, Victor Hugo decried the change: “The Mont-Saint-Michel must remain an island. We must save it from mutilation!” People are at last responding.

[Image courtesy Neerav Mehta]