Monday, 26 September 2011

Way out West

Sunday was another lovely but windy day up here and Beren and I went for a run out West to visit a few places that should have been a bit sheltered from the southerly wind. They weren't that sheltered, but the wind was pretty warm.

Our first stop was out at Melby over the water from Papa Stour; and between the Shetland and Papa Stour is Forvik, the mighty independent kingdom of Captain Calamity  AKA Stuart Hill. Pretty much a grassy skerrie with a couple of wooden huts on it. Forvik is just the grassy foreground, the back ground is Papa Stour.

He know's he shouldn't, but Beren took advantage of a near by wall while I was taking photos. No wall was harmed in the process. The Neap of Norby is in the background where there's a great beach we'd be visiting.

Here it is again with the Holm of Melby out in the bay...

And the south end of Papa Stour across the Sound of Papa. I hope to visit there on the Saturday ferry some time soon and in the kayak too at some point.

After a potter around Melby we drove off to park at the top of Norby Beach. A great expanse of beach with grand views, but a bit dour looking with it's dull red sands compared to the like of Meal Beach.

Papa Stour in the distance, the Holm of Melby and The Neap of Norby...

Looking back to Melby...

While we were out here I thought to drive a little further out to Bousta as it looked like and interesting spot on the map. On the way we passed a house with the Faroese Flag flying, a new one for me. It also had a little hillside settlement for trowies in the drive way along with 'welcome' in several languages!

Here's the cosy harbour at Bousta

And another first, a wo-wo ferry - walk-on-walk-off! I like it out this way. I'm not sure if this is left over from some summer fun or what. It's very intriguing...

We sat for a while on the end of the jetty, dangling our feet and looking in the clear waters.

The it was timne to start heading back with the intention to visit Stanydale Temple on the way. Passing Burga water a strange white circular feature stood out in the loch. A dun, or old Celtic Fort

At Stanydale we parked carefully at the edge of a passing place and I moaned and groaned as I splodged up the hill with Beren on my shoulders passing remains of an ancient settlements until we arrived at the quite impressive Stanydale Temple.


The two holes with rocks around them in the middle are thought to be for poles that once held a massive thatched roof over the whole building. it must have been an impressive building in it's day. All around the area are remains of other structures and standing stones.

The afternoon was wearing on and I was shattered and still had to carry Beren back to the car over the welly sucking ground, so we bid farewell with plans to return and show Clare our discoveries some time.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Bits and Bobs and Bressay

Well first things first. I'm taking a step in a new direction on Shetland with the starting of a fortnightly meditation group in Scalloway. To help generate some interest for it and provide information I've got another blog for The Shetland Meditation Group. I do hope enough folk come along to make the hire of the hall viable and I get the chance to sit with others up here in Shetland, if not at least I tried. So if you're interested have a look at the new blog and come along.

Today has been a gorgeous day and we all went over to my friend's croft on Bressay. Despite my earlier than planned wake up call for them we had some fun 'felling' a redundant telegraph pole, logging it up and then trying to remove the stump from the park. Luckily his plucky little Grey Fergie came up trumps to help us lift and drag the pole out the ground. Clare enjoyed having a drive of it and me and Beren had a little tour around in the link box to save our legs.

This isn't my friend's one, but it is the same...

We also paid a surprise visit to The Maryfield House Hotel for lunch, it surprised the owners, but they were very accommodating and the food was fine.

Clare has been to Bressay for work purposes, but never to have a look round, so after lunch we did a whistle stop tour of the island for her to see some of the places me and Beren have visited in the past. We'll definitely be back one fine day with a picnic and plans for some more intensive exploring.

I did have crazy thoughts of getting the ferry to Outer Skerrie tomorrow for a wander, but after the work, fun and sun of today I'm a little frazzled, so I'll just rest now and see what tomorrow brings...

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Long name for a little burn...

Plans are plans and subject to change. So this afternoon I found myself parking up in Wester Quarff to go and look at a waterfall on 'The Burn of The Glen of Quarff', a bit of a mouthful , but a nice place for a wander and a chance for a few photos. It's also a recce for taking some of the kids I work with out and about as there's a geocache up there, actually a few in the area.

As you wander up the burn there are a series of small arched concrete bridges over little cascades. Fairly decrepit, but an added interest in their overgrown state with rusting corrugated sheeting hanging down.

The burn is tiny, but lovely none the less, with a touch of peat in the water from recent wet weather.

It's not long before you approach the main  waterfall, cascading down into a narrow gorge.

I held out the camera on it's tripod over the falls for this one, didn't dare lean any further.  

Above the falls the burn is less deeply cut, but still tumbling over the bedrock, 

weaving it's way,

 and splitting like atoms.

Down in the valley 'The Burn of The Glen of Quarff' joins 'The Burn of Quarff' and continues west to the sea in Clift Sound opposite Burra and Trondra.

When I got back to the car it seemed daft not to go to the end of the road as I was nearly there, so to the the end I went.

Looking east back up the Quarff valley.

And looking north; Trondra to the right and Scalloway in the far distance. 

There's another nearby waterfall on 'John Boyne's Burn' that I want to check out soon. It runs down to near the Brig O' Fitch from Gossa Water in the hills behind Sound. I noticed it the other day from the road and also came across it on a photography blog today. Looks interesting...

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Weekend treat and good enough to eat...

I've been beavering away with my sourdough bread and it's getting better. Today's is definitely the best 'multi-grain' bread I've made ever ever ever and it's so yummy. A real treat for the weekend with some Shetland butter on it.

I did have an experiment with a beer barm bread using a bottle conditioned ale from the Co-op, 'Gold miner', the beer was nice, the bread was tasty too, I'd under proved it and it was a bit on the dense side. If I get to Unst for some wort from Valhalla Breweries I'll have to be less hasty.

I've found really useful, but also terrifying. I'm a bit slap dash with my cooking in general, pretty much done by look and feel, but they are SO specific about everything. Starter hydration, the rule of 240 (or 300 for sourdough), internal temperature at end of baking (at sea level, it's different if you're higher)), the minutiae of the bulk fermentation and on and on...  Never mind all the lush sounding flours that have never seen a Shetland shop shelf. BUT, looking through the recipes and photos of the results it is really worth it.

So my challenge for this week is to track down an oven thermometer and spikey sticky in one for next to nothing and also some unglazed floor tiles (unless I see an old granite work top in a skip!) I should may be go to the 'Ideal Home Exhibition' at Clickimin today, but nah...

There is a problem with baking bread though; it means you eat so much of it! Just waiting for it to cool is a real torment and then it disappears in a flash of knives and butter and you have to make the next one!

Other plans for the weekend revolve mainly around food too with 'An American Brunch' at Muckle Roe Hall tomorrow and may be followed by a Knitting and Spinning Sunday tea at Whiteness Hall. In between I'm probably getting a little exercise trying out a kayak from my kayak expert friend up in Vidlin.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Bod of Nesbister

I was just looking through some photos and thought I'd post these of The Bod Of Nesbister on Whiteness Voe south of the A971 as you head out west.

I've not stayed there. I know as with most bods it's pretty basic with no electricity and has an outside portapotty (personally inspected), but it does have running water and a stove.

What I do know is that it's a wonderful spot to wander about, bird watch, fish and generally hang out. I think we'll have to book ourselves in there for a weekend before the season ends. It's only a few miles from home, but staying out there and having a fire on the ayre will be great and Beren would love it. 


It'd be a bit more than a nuisance if someone thought it'd be a joke to bar you in! There is another door, but that has an external crossbar too...

And looking north up the voe.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Wonderful day out West; Silwick and Westerwick

Being convinced that autumn was well and truly here with leaves falling, torrential downpours and some pretty windy spells, yesterday took us by complete surprise. It was stunning. Hardly a wisp of cloud in the blue skies, practically no wind, just warm and summery.

So with such unexpected fantastic weather we made up a picnic and Clare took me out West for a dose of 'the airs'. Even bought me and ice-cream, actually I paid for it, but she suggested it and took me there!

Happily passing the tour buses from a cruise ship that must be in Lerwick we headed off on the lovely drive out to Silwick. We kayaked here the other year with a much smaller Beren, but we've not been land side of this amazing place.

Here's the view looking over Silwick. The big island with an arch is 'Clett' and is really quite massive, some where I'll re-visit in the kayak when I'm able. The shingle beach at Silwick is a grand spot.

Just after we set off we noticed a couple of bad boys watching us. Thankfully things down below are slowly on the mend but it's not long since I felt a bit like he looks. Sadly a big ram was floating in a geo below the cliffs, I've not seen many sheep fallen off the cliffs.

A short but slow potter later we were at a perfect spot for our picnic. Wow!

The bays round this bit of coast from Reawick to Culswick Broch are truly stunning. The birds life has calmed down a lot now; largely fulmars, some great black backed gulls and shags. Out at sea, looking between the stacks, I was surprised to see the ferry the Bigga steaming past. I can only assume it was going to Scalloway, but by the time we got home I was too tired go go and check.

Here she is using the full 30x zoom on my camera.

After lunch we slowly made our way over to Westerwick. It's only just over 1km, but with me, Beren, the views and lunch it took us a couple of hours from the car to get there. Clare actually went back to take the car round to Westerwick for me from here, it took her about 15 minutes!

Beren enjoyed a bit of ruff and tumble in the grass before just being interested in the grass and the bit and bobs he could find there. In the back ground is the western extreme of Westerwick with the big island, Giltrarump, surrounded by stacks.

Down below a couple of seals were enjoying the fine day too.

Here's a panoramic shot of Westerwick with Grossa Stack being the big lump in the middle of the bay. The little bay just to the right of centre is where you come down from the car, another isolated shingle beach. 

We'd all had a great day out and returned home exhausted. Clare zoomed off into Lerwick to attend an excellent talk by  James Naughtie of BBC Radio 4 fame and Beren and I lounged in the lounge. Sadly on her return there was the, now dry, grass to be cut, so after a yummy tea she was out mowing the lawn as the dark descended at about 8.30pm, a reminder that the long summer evenings are well and truly disappearing. 

Friday, 2 September 2011

Impressive dedication!

While I'm still festering away, in more ways than one, with another dose of antibiotics and waiting for the results of a less than comfortable swab it seems atleast a few people have been determined to set some self-imposed feats of collecting on Shetland.

In this weeks 'Times' (Shetland Times of course, what other could there be) a couple have been setting records in the Ham radio world by transmitting and receiving from remote uninhabited islands up here. Obviously a challenging and fun venture for all involved. 

However this pales in to realms of a quick nip out to the shops in comparison to Walter Scott's Shetland project. Now I love to try to visit to of the way places, but would I catalogue lists of  all these 'features' of Shetland (below) and see how many I could visit?! 

 He says...

My interest in the botany of Shetland began in 1955 when I was fifteen years old, and has continued to the present day. For some thirty-five years my travels in search of plants took me to many parts of Shetland, often to remote corners and islands where the flora had not hitherto been examined. In the early 1990s I decided to fill in the gaps in my coverage of the county by identifying a number of projects, namely, things to do, see, or visit. Many of these ventures, eighteen in all, have been completed or nearly so. Some, like holms in freshwater lochs, had a purely botanical basis. Others were chosen, not for their botanical value―although my interest in plants was always in the background―but because they provided a predetermined and finely gridded basis which gave me a uniform coverage of all parts of all of our islands.

The first number is how many features he has listed; the number in brackets is how many of each category he has visited so far. VERY impressive and nice to note he's had a pint in every pub in Shetland in 2004!

 01. Islands 2487 (1226). 
02. Ruined houses 2461 (2461).  
03. Kilometre squares 2248 (2238).
04. Coastal walking 1270 miles (1270).  
05. Freshwater lochs 526 (526).  
06. Plants, native 354 (354).  
07.Holms in freshwater lochs 348 (348).  
08. Main roads 240 (240).  
09. Hillsummits 115 (115).  
10. Plants, alien 107 (107).  
11. Brochs 78 (78).  
12.Churches 81 (81).  
13. Triangulation pillars 76 (76).  
14. Lighthouses 55 (54).
15. Cemeteries 52 (52).  
16. Public houses 34 (34).  
17. Standing stones 28 (28).
18. Geographical extremeties 4 (4)

If you check out his website he lists the criteria for accomplishing each category. One example is...

Kilometre squares. To stand on (or touch by hand when sea conditions or the shape of the available land precludes a safe landing) as many as possible of the 1 km squares of the Ordnance Survey National Grid within which there is some land, of any size, and which is above high water in calm conditions. There is a total of 2,248 such squares...

A lot more fun than train spotting (not a viable Shetland hobbie!) and dare I say it , Munro Bagging (sadly not available in Shetland either!)

However, if I had a list like that I'd have a nervous breakdown trying to finish it, preferably yesterday. The second Noble Truth 'that suffering arises from attachment and desires' would be very appropriate for me!

I'll look forward to having a nosey through some of the detail at my leisure for places I might fancy visiting and if I have any queries it's useful to note that he only lives 5 minutes walk away in Scalloway. 

Mmm... I notice he hasn't got a list of noosts on there...