Sunday, 26 September 2010

Ronas Voe; an end of season row

Despite a pretty awful week weather wise it came good us for this weekend. Winds dropped and so did swell, which was lucky as I've been planning a final row out to pastures new for an intrepid bunch of us from Vidlin Rowing Club.

We set off from a little beach called The Blade at Heylor on Ronas Voe, it was sunny and breezy and looking like a great day for our little venture. We hoped to get to Lang Ayre but often the sea has other ideas and so it was today and we made our pitstop at a beach on Ketligill Head.

Here we are just leaving The Blade

The voe stretches inland another few miles behind us

We travelled down the west wall of the voe passing a myriad of stacks arches and caves. Unfortunately the north-easterly swell was still pretty strong after a week of rough weather so we couldn't risk getting to close to the rocks with the sea surging against the cliff in places. It was a wonderful row down the west side though.


By the time we got to The Stack of Sumra the wind driven swell was getting steeper and breaking in parts. Rowing with it coming on broadside was getting tricky so we decided to cut from the west and head directly into the swell across the voe to The Roodrans and Lang Ayre beyond them.

Heading across the voe

Galti Stack on the end of the west side of the voe

The trip across can best be described as a roller coaster ride, great fun, but not a good omen for being able to get round to Lang Ayre, a big storm beach. We approached the The Roodrans that were to be our entry to it, very impressive.

We edged in to the channels between the stacks looking for rocks and sussing out the sea the other side. It was rough, but the view was astounding, like a hidden world. The camera just doesn't do it justice. The cliff tops looked like the green sloping hills of Faroe.

We went around the seaward side of The Roodrans to see if we could get a better view and check out a safe passage, but before we'd even got north of them it was obvious it was the end of our trip to Lang Ayre this time. All of us agreed that we would have to get back and get round there on a better day, it was so impressive.

So, we headed in, to a beach just south of the stacks on Ketligill Head. That was fun too, a steep angled shingly beach with waves a couple of foot high dumping on it. We had one in the bow checking for submerged rocks as we edged in towards where the short surf was and then it was full speed a head to ground up the beach. The boat was fine, but we had fun trying to drag her up the beach as the surf pounded in and needless to say we all got wet, some more than others.

Here's The Orrick at rest on the beach

The Orrick in the distance as surf crashes in

We spent some time having a bite to eat and looking around the beach. There were some interesting water falls falling straight into the sea, but it was hard to get a picture of them. The rocks on Ketligill Head were most impressive though, deep red granites with large dark grey veins running through them, particularly in the centre of the picture, almost striped.

Ketligill Head

There were more great views out to The Roodrans too

 With a little trepidation we made our plan to launch from the beach, timing being everything, but with a heavy boat to get down the beach, a crew to get aboard and waves to time it was going to be interesting. We actually did a pretty good job, better than our landing and were soon out in calmer water with a gentle following sea to help us on our way.

Looking back out to the mouth of the voe as we headed home

Sorry Auld Een, we didn't get to check out any dwellings on Lang Ayre, but we will be back next summer when the conditions are right as we're all keen to visit the forbiden kingdom of Lang Ayre.

Last rowing practise is this wednesday. After that the boat will be off the water, but I'll still be trying to get out and about in the kayak or dinghy...


  1. looks great kev did none of the little waterfall pics come any sence. kev w

  2. Nah sorry, nothing worth keeping, could blame it on the light, sea battering me or the awkward location but it was probably just me LOL!

  3. Absolutely brilliant pictures Kev.
    Like so many places in Shetland, it can only be seen properly from the sea. I'm so envious.

  4. Cheers :o)

    Got hopes of walking in and scrambling down to Lang Ayre in the school hols for a scout about. Depends on how lovely the westher it though LOL