Wednesday, 30 May 2012


With all this good weather of late we've had some lovely evenings; still, bright and clear. I keep telling myself I'll get out for a wander late on when the sun is setting, but by that time I'm really just ready for my bed. Last night I did go for a late wander though, along to Maa Ness and the light on The point of Pund. It was an amazing evening. The only noise was the snipe drumming and the occasional plops of the terns as they dove into the  iridescent waters below me. As I stood and watched the sun set a fellow evening wanderer came by and we had a hushed chat about the evening and Foula, clear and turning a dusty terracotta in the far distance, before he headed on. Wonderful...

Monday, 28 May 2012

Lochs of Brouster

I had occasion to go out west to The Loch of Brouster next to The Bridge of Walls today. It's some where I driven past plenty of time, but had no good reason to stop. There's some many great water bodies out west it's hard to choose.

There is a sign that says Upper Brouster 2.8km, but don't let that fool you if you just want a little stroll. It may be 2.8km around the loch, but not to get to it!

It was another wonderful day with gorgeous skies and thankfully a nice breeze too. I loved these faint 'smeared' clouds up over the hills..

Brace burn drains down from the much larger loch of Voxterby a few hundred yards further north...

Upper Brouster has a salmon farm in it. Unsurprisingly some of the salmon have escaped over the years and I'm assured that if you want to catch a good meal it's the place to fish. I may have to get my self a rod!

Looking south from the bridge at the north end of the loch...

It was lovely to see some of the water side plants flowering, soon the irises will be at it too.

Looking south into Brouster (lower?) Loch with The Bridge of Walls crossing it's exit into the Voe of Browland...

The west is so full of lochs and the way the voes cut right into it makes interesting, but often frustrating driving if you just want to get some where!

Sunday, 27 May 2012


It's been a stunning week up here and the weekend has only got better. Unfortunately, for all I like the sun and clear skies I don't like the heat at all though, something that's not usually a problem here!

We've not been up to much this weekend. Beren's struggling with tonsillitis and I've been suffering from a joint leaving do on Friday night. It's not that I drank much at all, even one pint just doesn't agree with me, so while most were sunning it up on Saturday with BBQ's and the like I spent the day pretty much inside reading and feeling pretty grotty.

I woke up this morning thinking I felt refreshed and ready to go. So, with a large dose of sun block and a hastily packed bag I set off for Sandvoe. I've been wanting to get out to Uyea from there for a long time. The other year tried and failed to kayak there as the sea was too big for me on my own. And today I would fail to walk there too! Hey ho, it was just too damn hot without a breath of wind and my poor old legs and body were not as refreshed as I'd thought. 

I parked up at the cemetery at Sandvoe and set off around the coast. Here's the view looking back from the beach...

Looking across to the house were Simon King stayed briefly with his family when filming Shetland Dairies...

Looking out to sea...

I carried on round the coast past Roer Mill to Heoga Neap before calling it a day. Not far I know, but some times it's best to listen to your body and just quit while you're ahead and it was still a grand walk.

Roer Mill is the beach on the right...

Looking out west past Heoga neap with Uyea in the distance...

The walk from Sandvoe to Uyea and back via North Roe is around 10 miles, but a pretty tough 10 miles with the leg out there going across the grain of old glacial valleys over rough unmarked ground all the way. The route back to North Roe is a lot less demanding being largely along a rough vehicle track. If you're feeling fit and the weather is good it'd be well worth the trek, but make sure you time it to get to Uyea for low tide if you want to get across to it on the tombolo. Next time I might just go for the easy track route both ways and make sure I'm not suffering from a dodgy belly and the rest!

On the way home I popped in to see a friend in Vidlin before joining Clare an Beren for some play time in the garden and park. A quick few miles round Burwick tonight in the cool of this evening and that's me ready for bed! 

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Scrae Field and there abouts

Despite the forecast of fog and mist spoiling this wonderful spell of weather, today, my day off, was a scorcher. After getting plenty of washing done and out on the line I drove over to Sundibanks to go for a wander up this nothern end of The Clift Hills to Scrae Field and the remains of the wartime radio station that you often see silhouetted up there.

As a followed the track round the shore hordes of tern were on the ebb stones, oyster catchers were piping and  a myriad of gulls were flying around. it seems everything was making the most of the day.

Once up on the top the view south along the hills and out to sea was fantastic.

I was soon starting to head across the saddle from the cost for the climb up the heather to Scrae Field. Looking back there was a wonderful lenticular cloud streaming the length of the hills.

And in the middle was a guy with his old tractor and three dogs cutting peats.

We had a bit of a chat and he told me how they're cut and stacked. Pointed out a fair sized tree root from times gone by that was interfering with some of his cuts. He's from Wester Quarff and said that in the old days folk would walk this route to Scalloway for their messages if it was too windy to row. They made them tough in those day eh?!

Looking down the valley of Sundibanks Burn. This old tractor had some starlings nesting in it.

Scalloway in the distance...

After my chat it was time for a steep climb up the banks to the old wartime radio station that's not far off the summit to Scrae Field. It is up about 8 feet on legs and the stair case that used to lead to the front door was gone, so I scrabbled some blocks together enough to get a grip of the door step and drag myself up and in. 

Looking out the front door with Green Holm in the centre of the door 'frame'...

And another view of Scalloway and that amazing cloud from the front door of the look out...

After managing not to break a leg or ankle getting back down I headed up to the trig point on Scrae Field, a whopping 216m. 

What a view on a day like this, just a pity it was a bit too bright, hazy and windy for a full 360 panorama.

Looking south to the remains of the radio station from the trig point...

I carried on north towards Tou Field and came across these three Bonxies who were also admiring the view...

They few off and about and settled not far away. Soon they'll be nesting and flying at me if I get anywhere near.

I had thought about carrying on to Bersa Hill and following the Easter Houll track back to the car, but the sun was getting to me by now, so I took a short cut back to Sundibanks and was soon off into town to get my messages, but by car!

The weather is forecast to continue so with any luck I'll get out some where tomorrow too after work...

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Another fine day..

After a busy day and late night yesterday we were a bit slow going this morning. It was much cooler and breezier than yesterday, but still a grand day. I nipped out to Weisdale for a bit to go to look at The Shetland Open exhibition again and see if I could find anything interesting to photograph. I didn't see any otters in the voe, but I did see some red breasted merganser, curlews and other birds that cunningly disappeared when my camera appeared. However, there were plenty of foals out and about in the fields around Tingwall like this cute one here.

After dinner the sun was really coming through even though the wind was still cool. We went down for a good look around the new Scalloway Museum. We were all really impressed with the range and quality of the displays there and some great interactive things for the bairns too. It was particularly nice to see a section on Jim o'Berry (Jim Smith), from Berry Farm, just behind our house. He died recently, but was a great innovator and mechanic developing the first fish gutting machine and mussel rope machine among other things.

With the weather getting better all the time we decided to go down to a favourite little beach on West Burra. It's great for watching seals and also for shell collecting with top shells and grotty buckies (arctic cowries) being our favourites to find. We carried on along the coast up and down the rocks and looking into geos until we were clambering up the crevice from one to be surprised by a spoot mallie (fulmar) flying out in my face. Left behind was it's single egg in what can hardly be described as a nest.

A few feet later and this one lived up to it's name by throwing up at me. Luckily I wasn't close enough to get the fishy vomit on me, not like years ago climbing when one threw up on our ropes, that was not nice!

We'd had enough adventuring for one day and I wanted time to relax and sort things out as I start a new job tomorrow, so we headed back to the car over the grassy hills. Just as we were sitting atop one mound admiring the view an arctic skua (scooty allan) came over the banks towards us. I could hardly believe my luck, bad luck, as I'd left my camera in the car so could only get his awful snap of it with my mobile. It circled around us as if to make fun of me,  went off along the coast and then came back to practically hover on the lift off the slope right over our heads, only may be 20 feet away. A wonderful sight and missed opportunity for me, still I'll likely get another chance.

So, we've had another great weekend, the weather is forecast to continue being good for the next few days  which is great as I might be out and about getting to grips with my new job.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

West of Westerwick and a few bits more...

It's been a pretty packed week here in Shetland. Not only was Bill Bailey up on his Qualmpeddler Tour ( a brilliant show), Neil Oliver was up here filming coast (look out for a blue 306 with roof bars), but it was Norway Day on Thursday with the Norwegian Prime Minster here to open the new Scalloway Museum and there have been (and still are) celebrations galore going on in the village.

I was working, but Clare and Beren were in the village the whole day taking part in the processions and other celebrations. As part of it we had a number of visiting boats in the harbour, some that were involved in The Shetland Bus during WW2

Here is the fully restored Hitra, a submarine chaser that was given to Norway during the war and used between Shetland and Norway. A floating museum that I wish I had more time to look around...


The Norwegian Coast Guard also sent over their fantastic vessel KV Bergen. Looking around that was a real eye opener.

The view of Scalloway from the bridge of KV Bergen...

There were several other boats here just for the celebrations, a market, food and music stage in The Muckle Yard. 

There's been more on today and a Viking Feast on tonight, but we've been out and about on this fine day and having our own feast on the cliffs out past Westerwick.

The day started as wonderfully as it went on. While Clare kindly mucked out and washed my car Beren and I went for a play in the park before going to a friends for lunch.

After lunch we packed a picnic and before picking up some other friends for a walk we went up to the Burradale Turbines for a wander. These are babies compared to the beasts that will in all probability grace the central hills of Shetland in the near future...

By late afternoon we were whizzing along out to Westerwick. We've walked the coast east of Westerwick and further north at Culswick, all of it amazing, but not this short stretch to the west of the bay.

It was great to look down and remember kayaking round here nearly 2 years ago with Beren, in and out the caves. Our friend's had never been out here before and were pretty taken with the spectacle.

Looking across the bay, Fitful Head in the far distance...

Looking back to Westerwick itself...

With two bairns with us we weren't going very far, just to The Nev opposite the large stack of Giltarump. It was enough for them, they wanted to run and chase and these cliffs aren't the place for them to do that. So a leisurely pottering and picnic was the order of the day.

Giltarump standing on it's own, with Culswick being the next headland along and Vaila in the far distance to the left...

You can just make out the mound of Culswick Broch on the headland if you know what you're looking for. Certainly an impressive headland for one...

 It was one of those evenings that you could just hang out in for ever, but the two bairns had had enough of it, so it was back to the car with a cheery wave to Foula, who was looking as enigmatic as ever in the distance...

On the way back we had a rare treat and stopped at The Westings Inn on Wormadale for a drink and a packed of crisps. I really wished we didn't have the kids for that moment, I could have sat in the window with a pint all night looking at the beautiful scene spread out to the west.

Anyway, light as it is, I best get off to bed now as tomorrow is forecast to be more of the same. If the winds stay light we might go for a paddle on Strom Loch...

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Aith Ness Guns, Bressay

It's been another amazing day here in Shetland. We had hoped to go over to Noss for the day, but despite the gorgeous weather the wardens must have felt the wind was a bit high for then to run the small ferry crossing from Bressay to the nature reserve. Undeterred we set off for Bressay with the aim of going to see the WW1 Aith Gun in the far north of the island on Aith Ness.

After meeting our friend and his dog at the shop we headed north and were soon negotiating a rough track up to the abandoned farmstead of Aith.

In a few hundered yards from our parking spot we were at our first beach, Minni of Aith, a nice spot for a bit of beach combing and a sit to watch the waves.

From here we headed up a small valley full of deserted quarries (to supply roofing for Lerwick) towards Score Hill where the gun emplacements are. Here's the view looking back down the valley over Aith Voe with the Ward of Bressay  in the distance.

As we got further along the ness the views of Noss got more impressive. Here you can see Ander's Hill Tower to the right and the peak of Noss to the left.

Soon we were at the gun and a fantastic vantage point with views out to Whalsay and  Out Skerries, back to Noss and over to Lerwick and the industrial estates of Green Head.

Nearby an enclosed walkway leads down to some bunkers related to the gun emplacement. There's not a lot to see, but Beren had fun exploring the corridors and few rooms.

And once he realised there was a corridor encircling the rooms he raced round and round and round...

There are the remains of the tower of some sort of aerial runway near the guns, marked on the maps (I think) as gallows. My friend tells me it was used to lift supplies and ammunition up to the defences. It would have run down to Elvis Voe as the nearest sheltered landing. Shetland Museum and archive have some great old photos of the guns being unloaded there.

Looking down from the gun you can see the fantastically white beach of Score Minni, with two small islands (inner and outer score) effectively forming another headland. We went down to the beach for lunch. Beren had fun splashing in the sea with Teddy the dog, we found a few interesting bits and bobs and I concluded that this beach has the best selection of skimming stones I have seen any where ever! Teddy loved swimming out trying to chase and catch the stones as I tried to skim them near him and over him, but not hit him. He did catch one in his mouth!

It was low tide, so I decided to strip off my shoes and trousers to wade across to Inner Score and explore some more. The water was just over knee deep and freezing, but I was soon on Inner Score and wandering off into the distance bare footed and bare legged on the soft grass.

Here's the narrow channel to the island.

The views back to Noss and the coast of Bressay were great. There were gannets and great black backed gulls circling over head and the odd Wheat Ear on the island.

When I came to the gap to cross to Outer Score I came across this on the facing cliff wall. A pair of Shags with 3 eggs in their nest. Excellent. I didn't want to disturb them, the wind was picking up and rain threatened so I decided to leave Outer Score for another day and return to the rest of the party and my trousers before I got caught out!

When I finally got back to the others we crossed to Elvis Voe, what a name, and walked down the west coast of the ness passing a pair of Bonxies and watching so people in a rescue boat practising in Aith Voe.

We saw lots of signs of otters and even caught brief glimpses of a few in the voe along with the odd seal and also came across this...

There aren't many mammals with a tail like this. It looks as if it would have been pretty stout and powerful and unless anyone can convince us other wise I'd bet on it being the skeleton of an otters tail, certainly the skeletons I've found on google have a tail remarkably similar.

Near the end of the walk is (I now know) the remains of the old Herring Station.

There was obviously a jetty here at one point along with a house and other work buildings. As well as the stone built house are the brick built work buildings. And here is one of the bricks, from Preston Grange just outside of Edinburgh.

A short trundle back to civilisation and we left my friend and Teddy to go and visit some other friends on Bressay for a well earned sit down, rock buns and tea!

The forecast for tomorrow is fairly dire so we may just be relaxing and recovering from the sun today. On the other hand it is Sunday, so there will be Sunday Teas to sample...