Friday, 15 July 2011

West Burra; Sand Wick to Whale Wick

As if to remind me why we moved 600 miles north to Shetland the weather has been fantastic this last couple of days and looks like to be another good 'un today; just hope it holds for the weekend festivities in Scalloway.

Yesterday I took the opportunity if time and weather to investigate an intriguing looking arch I saw down on West Burra from Fulga Ness, near Hamnavoe at the Smuggler's cave. A wonderful stretch of coast.

From parking at the car I walked along a track past Merkisayre Stud. A few foals were enjoying the sun and grass with Mums.

And in a dwam, approached Sand Wick beach. It suddenly started to shuffle and wobble in a frenzy into the sea. I hadn't even noticed the thick carpeting of seals covering it.

The seals soon made their way back though as I rounded the headland on my way down the coast.

It was a breezier day than forecast and a few yachts were taking advantage of the fine day.

Soon I was looking down on the arch I'd seen from afar, with ropes hanging down it. I tried to get down as low as I could (even on the far right of this photo) for some photos of the other, less obvious, tunnels through it, but with a surging sea and sleek rocks I thought best to leave it for now.

The sea surging over the rock platforms near the arch was impressive and not to be messed with...

A view from the other side...

I carried on along towards the Stack of Sandwick with more fantastic views all the way down to The Heug on Kettla Ness.

On passing the enormous Ramna Gjo I could look back on the Stack of Sanwick, The West and Foula just visible in the distance. I really need to do some kayaking down here on a perfect day.

Soon I was approaching Whale Wick, an impressive bay with Ruff Loch emptying in to it over the cliff side and walls covered with caves. I took plenty of opportunities to just sit and soak in the day with some juice and a salt beef and cream cheese sandwich or two.

Soon enough I'd had enough sun though and headed back via the Loch of Sandwick and some lovely wet meadows full of orchids, ragged robin and iris amongst many more. There'd been a good show of sea birds on my walk too, including both Great Skua (bonxie) and Artic Skua.

Only a short walk, but what with the sun and scrambling about cliffs I was ready for putting my feet up. 

Later in the day I was over to a friend's croft on Bressay to help him lead hay in, I even got to drive his pride an joy, an old grey Fergie. Hope he let's me drive it again, I reckon I need a few lessons in the finer art of working with it.

By co-incidence a friend of his was there too, who is working as one of the engineers on the Sea Shepherd's, boat the 'Steve Irwin'. Sea Shepherd are up here on their way to protest at the Faroese killing of pilot whales in the up and coming Grind that's being getting much press of late. Cool boat!

On the way to catch the ferry back to Shetland we also saw their scout boat The Brigitte Bardot just arriving in Lerwick to join them on their crusade. (that is not Lerwick by the way LOL)

They sail north today, so I've missed a chance to have a look round the boat. Then after their exploits in the Faroes I think they're headed to the southern hemisphere to hassle the Japanese whalers. Some world  tour eh?

I'm now lying up out of the blazing Shetland sun, resting for the weekends festivities in Scalloway and looking forward to a scout around the new Scalloway Museum a bit later.


  1. Is 'leading the hay in', gathering it up? And is Fergie a tractor?

  2. The The Brigitte Bardot has been to Lerwick before. It was part of a world record circumnavigation of the world, was owned or sponsored by BP and was used by them for surveys.
    I was told it had 2 sets of engines twin 1200hp or twin 800hp, mind it was a while ago I was told this. Its speed was in xs of 80 MPH. Some boat. If I remember the hull was in the shape.of a battleship, the rear was where the smaller boats were hold.

    A Fergie = Ferguson Tractor