If you thought Bing aerial photography was good, then Street View really is the dog's knob. But be warned it's very Not Safe For Work because you can waste seriously large amounts of time browsing on it.
For anyone not aware of this, go to Google Maps. Type in the name of your place of interest (or navigate to it on the map) and zoom in a bit until you can see roads. Note the little orange man at the top of the scale bar to the left of the map. Click and drag him to where you want to go. If there is Street View coverage (and I haven't found anywhere in Scotland yet that doesn't have it along a public road, be it ever so remote), the roads with coverage will be highlighted blue and then in a few seconds, you'll be looking at a view along the road where you dropped the orange man.
My tip for navigating along a road is to use the mouse to drop the white disc as far away as it will go - about to the next passing place, usually - and double click and you'll be taken to that point. (Don't double click if the disc turns into a square though - you'll see what I mean when you try it.) You can navigate ahead (or back) with the up and down arrows on the keyboard (not the ones in the number pad) but that takes you at a rather slow pace. Using the mouse click method described above takes you at about walking speed. Use the right left arrow keys to rotate the view clock- or anti-clockwise.
So, as it was the Isle of Jura blog which drew this to my attention, I took myself off to Craighouse first, a place I haven't been for 15 years.
I was struck by the similarity between this and the same view almost 200 years earlier as recorded by the water colourist William Daniell who circumnavigated Britain in 1814.
That's exactly the same building, pier and bridge. And although Daniell has exaggerated vertically a bit, that's the north-most of the Paps of Jura, Beinn Shiantaidh, visible in both views.
Today, I spent a lot of time "virtually" on Raasay where I encountered this remarkably suburban scene:-
The reason is that Raasay is home to, of all things, a mining village. Outside toilets and coalsheds in sight of the Cuillins - who'd have thought. This is a subject I will return to in a future post.
One thing that does strike me having "virtually" wandered round quite a lot of Raasay this afternoon is that the Highland Council bright blue wheelie-bins are incredibly ugly. Would a different colour - like khaki or dark brown - not blend into the landscape a bit more? Not so much here amongst the white cottages of Inverarish but they're a real blot on the landscape at the road ends of Balachuirn and Balmeanach. It seems a bit rich of Highland Council to restrict planning permission to "aesthetically sensitive" buildings when they roll out blue wheelie bins. Philistines!
Another good tip for browsing on Street View is to have the Ordnance Survey current 1:25,000 scale map open in another window courtesy of Streetmap. And the 19th century OS 6 inch map (1:10,560) available via National Libraries of Scotland open in a third window. And, of course, Bing aerial photography and/or Google Earth on the go too (GE in the case of the south end of Raasay).