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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.
|S01E01||From Foula to Fair Isle||23/09/2013||In this first 'Grand Tours of the Scottish Islands', Paul Murton sets out to visit some of the myriad of islands that lay off our coastline. Heading to Foula and Fair Isle - the most remote island communities in Britain - Paul makes a nerve-wracking visit to 'Da Snekk o' da Smallie' - a pothole in the cliffs of Foula which leads through to the Atlantic shore on the island, and learns about the beautiful knitting patterns which have made Fair Isle world famous.|
|S01E02||Islands in Loch Lomond: Landlocked Islands||30/09/2013||In the second episode of the series Paul Murton is turning his back on the sea and discovering the secrets of Scotland's landlocked islands; heading to the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond. To begin his journey Paul takes a stunning microlight flight across the loch to get a bird's-eye view of one of Scotland's most iconic beauty spots, before going island hopping to meet some of the extraordinary people who live here.|
|S01E03||Small Isles: Small Is Beautiful||07/10/2013||On this Grand Tour, Paul sets off from Mallaig to visit a group of islands famed for their unusual names: Rum, Muck and Eigg. Paul meets the real 'Lord Muck', visits the dramatic Kinloch Castle on Rum and joins the Eigg islanders in a very special celebration of the island's community buyout.|
|S01E04||Lismore and Colonsay: Island Pilgrimage||14/10/2013||Continuing his island-hopping odyssey, Paul sets sail on an island pilgrimage in the footsteps of saints, visiting Lismore, Colonsay and Oronsay. Paul hears the extraordinary story of Saint Moluag who established a monastery on Lismore, joins writer Alexander McCall Smith on his yacht, and uncovers the remarkable secrets revealed by a Viking ship burial on Colonsay.|
|S01E05||Islands of the Forth: Fortress Islands of the Forth||21/10/2013||In the fifth episode, Paul Murton explores the islands scattered in the Firth of Forth. He discovers that these seemingly peaceful islands have a dramatic history of war; from Medieval English raids on the monastic island retreat of Inchcolm, to the first air raid attack on Britain above Inchgarvie. Paul learns about the strategic importance of Inchkeith's defences during two world wars, before heading to the Bass Rock to learn more about the history of prisoners incarcerated on the unforgiving rock, with 160,000 gannets for company.|
|S01E06||Skye: Against the Odds||28/10/2013||On the final grand tour of the series, Paul Murton goes over the sea to Skye to visit the home of celebrated writer and naturalist Gavin Maxwell, before scaling the famous Cuillin mountain, Am Bastier. On the nearby Isle of Raasay, he learns about 'Calum's Road' - the amazing true story of the determined crofter, Calum Macleod, who singlehandedly built a road to connect his isolated community.|
|S02E01||Life at the Ends of the Earth||22/09/2014||In this first episode of the new series, Paul Murton is travelling to the Outer Hebrides and the beautiful islands of Eriskay, Barra and Vatersay. Meeting local people on Eriskay he discovers how this island's remote location helped preserve a unique way of life for centuries and also allowed the locals to hide thousands of bottles of whisky from the excise men who came visiting when a ship laden with a valuable and thirst-quenching cargo ran aground here in 1941. This was one of the less sober chapters in the island's history and was the inspiration for the famous film 'Whisky Galore'. Moving onto Barra, Paul visits the only airport in the world where scheduled flights land on the beach, finds out about the island's tradition of crofting and goes foraging for cockles. Heading across the causeway to Vatersay, Paul joins local fishermen trawling for lobsters and ends his journey at spectacular Barra Head, which has been uninhabited for more than a hundred years.|
|S02E02||Far from the Madding Crowd||29/09/2014||For this grand tour, Paul Murton is exploring the Isle of Mull and its satellite islands to discover why they have become boltholes from the hustle and bustle of the modern world. Beginning his journey on the tidal island of Erraid, which inspired famous Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson, Paul is then island-hopping to beautiful Ulva, the final resting place of Lachlan MacQuarrie, one of the first governors of New South Wales. MacQuarrie is known as the father of Australia, but Ulva is where this celebrated Scot was born and it is where he chose to be buried. Leaving peaceful Ulva behind, Paul heads to explore Mull itself and is given a whistle-stop tour of the island by rally driver Louise Thomas, who regularly competes in the world-famous Mull Rally. After seeing Mull at breakneck speed, it's time for some tranquillity and Paul travels to the mysterious little island of Inch Kenneth. This is where some of the earliest kings of Scotland are buried, but in more recent times Inch Kenneth was owned by the aristocratic and eccentric English family, the Mitfords, and Paul discovers the island has a dark secret. This is where Unity Mitford, who was a Nazi sympathiser, was hidden by her family when, distraught at the news that Britain had gone to war with her beloved Germany, she shot herself. The badly injured Unity was taken to Inch Kenneth to recuperate and hide from the world. To raise his spirits Paul heads to his final destination, the beautiful and remote Treshnish Islands, where he experiences a spot of puffin therapy.|
|S02E03||A New Island Life||06/10/2014||Paul Murton visits Gigha and Jura, two islands of the Inner Hebrides which are only a few miles apart but could not be more different. He begins at the Achamore Gardens on Gigha, which were created in the 1930s by the malted-drink millionaire James Horlick. He loved Gigha's mild climate so much that he bought the island and made it his home. Today Gigha is owned by the community, and many of its residents are incomers attracted by the opportunity to begin a new island life on this small and fertile place. Where Gigha is small, lush and verdant, Jura is rugged and awe-inspiring. Despite being one of Scotland's largest islands, just 200 people live there - alongside more than 5,000 deer.|
|S02E04||So Near, So Far||13/10/2014||Paul Murton explores a string of islands off the the west coast near Oban, visiting Kerrera, Seil and Eileach an Naoimh. The host travels on an original steam-powered puffer, finding out about the vital role such ships played in providing a link to the mainland, as well as visiting some of Scotland's oldest religious buildings.|
|S02E05||Keeping It All Together||20/10/2014||Paul Murton tours Outer Orkney, beginning at North Ronaldsay, which may be the most northerly of the Orkneys but turns out to be surprisingly easy to get to. Paul then hops across to Papa Stronsay, which is now populated by an order of monks who have chosen to make this isolated island their home, and ends on the island of Stroma in the Pentland Firth, a previously inhabited island that was abandoned in the 1950s. One of the last people to live there joins Paul to recall when it was still a thriving community.|
|S02E06||Atlantic Twins||27/10/2014||Paul Murton visits the islands of Coll and Tiree, which though just a few miles apart could not be more different. On Coll, he meets Nicolas Maclean Bristol, owner of Breachacha Castle, who can trace his ancestors on the island back to the 14th century. Tiree is one of the stormiest places in Europe, but is also one of the best places in Britain to surf and practise the relatively new sport of sand yachting, the racing of go-carts with a sail along the beach.|