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...