In July 2011 Cape Farewell embarked on a month-long expedition by boat across the Scottish Islands, bringing the notion and experience of expedition home to the UK, with an exploration of island ecologies and cultures, and of the strategies for sustainable and resilient futures being implemented across the Scottish Isles. More ›

The Crew

The expedition crew of 40 includes island artists, storytellers, film makers, playwrights, architects, designers, musicians, community leaders, social scientists, ecologists, marine biologists, oceanographers, poets, acclaimed Gaelic singers and a chef.
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Video highlights

Watch video highlights from the expedition ›

Graeme Robertson

Joins the expedition for week 2

Graeme Robertson is Executive Director of Global Islands Network, a Scottish based charity established in 2002 whose main aim is to conduct and promote culturally appropriate, ecologically sound, economically sustainable and socially equitable development on islands worldwide.

GIN presently comprises 150 partner organisations spread over 60 countries and has built up formal working collaborations with a range of UN agencies and other international bodies. Core activities include managing a website with a daily news desk that has sourced and featured more than 8,000 items since it started, a links directory with over 4,000 entries, and a range of other services like a calendar and marketplace. GIN has been an active member of the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA) since its inception in 2005 whose central goal is to help implement the priority actions of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Island Biodiversity Programme of Work which was formally adopted at its 8th Conference of the Parties (COP8) meeting in Curitiba, Brazil, in March 2006. Amongst other things, GIN has helped to develop the Global Island Database and presently engaged with researching 50 Green Island case studies. The aim of these case studies is not to produce some kind of environmental ‘scorecard’ to determine which islands might be best at pursuing the most sustainable livelihood practices and becoming as carbon neutral as possible. Rather our objective has been to draw upon and document the practical experience of different island communities from around the world in order to share their knowledge and solutions as widely as possible thus inspiring others who face the direct consequences of climate change.

Graeme was also the former Director of Habitat Scotland; the first Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland Ltd; first Co-ordinator of Edinburgh Environment Centre; and has held various seasonal contracts working as a warden on Scottish islands for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and former Nature Conservancy Council and orni- thologist at the Station Biologique, Camargue, France.
Graeme was appointed Honorary Research Fellow, Scottish Centre for Island Studies, University of the West of Scotland; Secretary, Interna- tional Small Islands Studies Association; Member, International Editorial Board, Island Studies Journal.

Graeme led a ten-month expedition in 1978 to the Kashmir region of India, Nepal, Sabah, Java and five island countries in the South-West Pacific to study the behaviour and ecology of Kingfisher species. This research was funded through grants awarded by the American Museum of Natural History, BirdLife International, Royal Geographical Society and other charitable trusts. Outputs included major contributions to the two volume Kingfishers and Related Birds and editing the Birds of Vanuatu book.

In 1991 Graeme was awarded a three months travel bursary from the Commonwealth Relations Trust to investigate community based re- source management initiatives and compare policies for environmental protection in twelve Eastern Caribbean countries. In 1993 Graeme was awarded British Council professional exchange grant to spend a month on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, studying their rural development and environmental programmes/policies.

In 1995 Graeme was awarded grant from the Royal Society to undertake six weeks visit to Chile to investigate native forest management/ conservation practices and the Falkland Islands to ascertain their preparedness for offshore oil developments. In 1996 Graeme was awarded Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship to spend two months visiting the Island Institute, Maine, USA; the Institute of Island Studies, University of Prince Edward Island, Canada; and Centre for International Studies, University of Cape Breton, Canada. In 1997 Graeme was awarded a grant from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Anglo-Portuguese Exchange Fund to visit the Azores for a month studying their rural development programmes/policies.

In 1999 Graeme was awarded English Speaking Union William Thyne Scholarship to spend two months in New Zealand investigating their ‘no-take’ marine reserves and coastal management policies/practices. Throughout the course of his career Graeme has attended numerous international conferences/intergovernmental meetings and visited the islands of over 60 countries worldwide.

Sea Change Programme

Puffin from the Bird Yarns project, part of Cape Farewell's Sea Change programme.
Grown out of the Scottish Islands Expedition, Cape Farewell’s Sea Change is a four-year programme of research and making across Scotland’s western and northern isles. Sea Change involves over 30 UK and international artists and scientists, working collaboratively and independently to consider the relationships between people, places and resources in the context of climate change.... Read more ›

A timely reminder of how valuable an outsider’s perspective can be

Community Energy Scotland’s annual conference offered a timely reminder of how valuable an outsider’s perspective can be.  It was reported on some research into how different countries are taking forward the development of renewable energy. The study looks at several European countries including Scotland, as well as five states in America. The most striking feature... Read more ›

First there was an island – then there was a boat

Shiants 2
“First there was an island – then there was a boat”, so begins a poem by Shetland writer Laureen Johnston.  Since owning my first boat at the age of eleven, I have been an obsessive explorer of islands, the smaller and more remote the better.  Once, in the grip of a sudden attack of aquatic... Read more ›

‘On these isles’

Lawrence has a 7am coffee break after feeding cattle.
‘On these isles’ is a project by photographer Ed Smith, whom we had the great pleasure of meeting when visiting the Island of Eigg. Ed has spent large periods of time on Eigg and other Inner Hebridean isles capturing life there in pictures. Have a look at more of his images and this project at... Read more ›

A gaelic song

Mary Jane Lamond, Jo Royle and Julie Fowlis Video by Ruth Little

Cape Farewell – we know what to do, can art help us get on and do it?

The following is an excerpt from Sara Parkin’s article found on the Forum for the Future website. …I was fortunate enough to join the crew for one week of a four week tour of Scottish Islands, starting with Skye and Canna before crossing the Minch to Mingulay, Barra and South Uist. The weather was kind,... Read more ›

Islands and Visions

Eigg Barbecue on Song of the Whale
There is a sea view when travelling from Eigg to Mallaig where you have a 360° vision of the Small Isles, Skye, the mountains of Scotland, Mull and, far into the distance, the Outer Hebrides. At 6 am yesterday the grey of the sea bled into the numerous blues of the mountains all dramatised by... Read more ›

Annie Cattrell and Jo Shapcott in conversation about week 4 of the expedition

Annie 1
JS Annie, what is it about islands? AC I like the fact that there’s a larger proportion of sea than land mass visible. There appears to be a completeness and self-sufficiency about the individual islands even though they are all distinctly different. There seems to be a big distinction between uninhabited and inhabited islands –... Read more ›


Photo by Sion Parkinson
(1) On the crossing from Ullapool to Stornaway on the Calmac, I wrote myself a list of rules, a set of behaviours that would concentrate my efforts, or assuage any guilt from any feelings of impotence, in my seven days aboard the ship. (1.1) Rules: (1.1.1) Take photographs, more than you need to, get in... Read more ›


Cotton Grass marking  Dwelling Rona
It was my birthday when I went to Rònaidh first. A place I wanted to see since I was little but I had always missed the boat. It is about forty miles north of my house near the Butt of Lewis. I went on the sixth of August aged thirty eight on the yacht ‘Song... Read more ›

Mary Arnold-Forster

Skye architect Mary shows the house of Fred Taylor she designed and reflects on the progress on Eigg and other green based aspirations for the islands architecture and energy supply.   Video shot by David Buckland     Sketches by Mary Arnold-Forster

Farewell and Ahoy: Log of a Voyage

Photo by Mary Smith
“Back in the kitchen.  A new group has joined Song of the Whale. There is an overlap of crew, Cape Farewell folk, and the artists and scientists who will sail together this coming week. They are planning to sail to North Rona, the Shiants and the coasts of Skye. But I’ve left the ship though... Read more ›