Friday, 29 June 2012

Bruna Ness, Burra

We had a pretty wild night last night, the first in a while, but this morning the wind had dropped and the rain had stopped for all it was very misty.

I thought I'd go for a little wander around Bruna Ness, a small headland at the north end of Burra just as you come off the brig. I'd spied some good looking beaches from over near Scalloway and thought it might be a spot to see some otters. I didn't see any otters or many sign of them, but there was plenty of bird life about, particularly juvenile wheat ears.

looking back to Burra Brig hiding in the mist...

Along with the wheat ears were the terns and oyster catchers making their calls; surprisingly there weren't many bonxies over here and they weren't aggressive either.

Looking across to Hamnavoe...

I went down the west side of the ness and worked my way north round the end with black backed gulls, fulmars and hooded crows cruising the banks. A bit further out the terns were diving, razor bills disappearing into the sea and groups of eiders too.

I soon came to the nice looking beach and had a bite to eat...

The mist was starting to clear a little by now and I kept seeing the odd red admiral coming over the banks, but none of them were settling long enough to get a photo of them.

Again the banks were covered with the remain of sea urchins. They have the most vicious looking teeth for such a lovely looking thing. The mouths underneath are made of 5 of these jaws with a long sharp tooth poking through them. From the outside they don't look much but compared to the size of the urchin they are massive.

As I sat there an old sail boat quietly motored past green Holm on it's way into Scalloway; an odd sight as it appeared out of the mist...

Slowly heading back south now towards the brig I walked into the slight breeze keeping an eye out on the exposed shore hoping for an otter, but not today. 

On the way home I made a quick stop on Blacks Ness Pier to see the boat that had passed me. It was the Loyal and this was it's first stop since leaving Bergen. By all accounts they'd had a wet and windy night while the rest of us were tucked up in bed.

This weekend is full of parties for Beren, one for his best mate who broke his wrist minutes before school was out for summer! I'm sure we'll fit some other things in though if the rough weather doesn't return.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Largely local...

I've not been straying too far from home lately. Largely local walks of around 4 miles from the house on the lovely evenings we've been having. I've been enjoying walking over Berry Hill to Burwick and round past the lighthouse and Maa Ness and also up Berry Lane and the Hill of Houlland which over looks Tingwall and Asta Loch on one side and out over the west on the other.

There's been some cracking sunsets...

Walking round the coast from Burwick there's still plenty of bird activity going on with lots wheatears, curlews, terns and oyster catchers making a racket on my evening walks. Some one's obviously been feasting well on sea urchins too as the banks have been littered with the fresh remains. Some neatly opened specimens would have been great to take home, but the stinky slop inside was a bit off putting!

I'm assuming some one set this one up. If the float had been a mine it definitely would have been a 'mini-me' moment, but as it was it the symmetry of the urchin and float caught my eye. May be it is just co-incidence or may be the birds are getting arty!

I was lucky to be up north towards Fethaland on a very hot and sunny day this week; checking on some bits and bobs. Coming over the hill I came down to The Kame of Isbister. The knife edge of a ridge leads out to what is presumed to have been a monastic settlement on the grassy seaward slope. Channel 4's Extreme Archaeology apparently did a show about it and Burgi Geo in Yell. If I find any links to them  I'll post them.

As you can see it's a lovely spot on a day like this, but it must have been pretty wild most times. I've kayaked past here before on my way north to Fethaland. It's not far from Isbister, the end of the mainland road north and well worth a visit if you don't mind the scramble over the short ridge. The beach n the bay below is particularly enticing too...

Thankfully my camera is now back from the repairers so I'll not be restricted to my mobile for photos from now on, just a pity we've got a storm warning for the next couple of days!

Friday, 22 June 2012

Ness of Ireland

I've been pretty busy lately and it's been taking it's toll on my energy, but after a lazy start to the day I had to get out for a wander and decided to head down to The Ness of Ireland near Maywick.

Parking at the end of the public road I managed to open the door against the wind and headed north towards The Taing of Maywick.

Looking back toward St Ninian's...

As I headed over the hill I was greeted by a few fly pasts by this arctic skua. It wasn't aggressive and was practically hovering over me on the strong winds.

 By contrast the area further on was busy with bonxies that came down at me like stukas out of the sun. Not close enough to be a bother, but quite exiting...

Looking north over the Taing of Maywick along the Clift Hills...

After exploring the headland I started south along the western coast and soon came across this arch...

From the other side looking north...

This little stretch of coast has some wonderful cliffs and at this time of the year they were bedecked with fulmars and there are numerous white stained stacks with colonies of guillemots. As I headed south I came to an interesting couple of geos and Burgi Stacks just past The Green of Mandrup.

You can go right out on to some of the stacks with clear drops into the sparkling water below. This particular stack stood out on it's own and had the remains of a climbing rope strewn across it. Presumably used to abseil down, it's now been totally thrashed to it's core and needs taking down. 

An impressive and tempting buttress...

Ness of Ireland's 'In Pinn' with the remains of the rope...

The geology here is interesting too. Here's the layered apex of a fold in the rocks...

I was feeling pretty tired by now and the day was darkening and looking ready to rain so I carried on to the next arch before heading back up to the car.

I had a great wander round this little area and look forward to exploring it more in the future and getting down on to some of the shores. Thankfully my camera is whizzing it's way back from the repair man so next time I'll not be restricted to the mobile for photos.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Daddy's Day

I've been well and truly spoilt today! 

When I went to get up this morning after what I thought was a lie in, 8am, I was told to get back up to bed. A short while later I had bacon butties with a big mug of tea to wash them down and a big jar of jelly beans to open.

After a lazy morning Beren decided as it was Daddy's Day we had to go geocaching. Well it's actually him who has the geocaching bug not me and now he has a net to keep the bugs off him!

 No flies on me Dad...

He found the midge net in one of the geocaches we found and much to my embarrasment wanted to wear it even though the wind was enough to blow him away never mind any midgies. As you can see below he is well prepared for his adventuring with his trusty friend, Sheepy, and dog tags on his coat.

We found 4 geocaches in total on our little jaunt and Sheepy and Lenny took turns in accompanying us to find them. We took along a selection of dinosaurs too to exchange for treasures in the caches. So today he came away with a midge net, a plastic key and a sand timer (that runs for all of 4 seconds!). A nano magnetic thingy nearly had us foxed again and one we had to be very careful not to let any muggles (non-geocachers) see us. There was one more we hoped to do but time was getting on and we had to get home for my special Father's Day tea.

And special it was steak and home made apple pie. Clare had even made a gorgeous cornbeef pie. A big chunk of both pies will be coming with me to Uyea tomorrow, purely survival rations of course!

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Here and there and round about...

I haven't posted for a little while, but there's plenty being going on. I guess I'm feeling a bit sorry for myself as my camera is still away in the very expensive camera hospital and as ever the photos off my mobile just don't do justice to the wonderful landscape up here.

With work I've been up to Fetlar looking at access issues with a whimbrel colony there and looking at access to a lovely beach up at the north of Yell. Next week I'll be back up in Yell and hopefully heading out to Uyea from North Roe to look at other route issues. It's not all getting out to lovely locations though, there's plenty of paper work and more run of the mill issues to deal with.

Beren has been out with us doing some more geocaching around the Wester Quarff area, there's a few really nice ones around there. We'll even registered our own geochache 'The Smuggler's Cave' on Burra and tried to register one up near Njugal's Water in an underground bunker, but it's too close to Nugles View to be registered, even if it is a totally different type as it's underground. If you wander N.E. from Nugles View a hundred yards you may find it, some have!

I've been out and about with my friend and adventure dog Teddy too. We've had a good old stroll around the S.W. coast of Muckle Roe past the light house and up towards the Hams watching common seals, dodging bonxies and even seeing a Merlin, a first for me. There are some great lochs up there with red sandy shores and ideal camping spots where you'd think you were the only people in the world. Oddly we did actually see some other people, walkers, when we got back to Little Ayre and they're more rare than the birds!

The other day we headed down to Burra and Kettla Ness looking for edible sea weeds and doing a bit of scrambling around the slabby cliffs, even Teddy was rock climbing with the odd boost up some bits and swimming to meet us at other points...

We came to a bit of a dead end eventually, save for us deciding to join Teddy in the sea. We sat for a bit and watched puffins, guillemots and black guillemots diving, being amazed at how long they can stay under water. Then we had a more challenging climb up the cliffs. After lifting Teddy up some high ledges I accidently sent a rock bounding down to the bottom and the daft dog set off to chase it! As he couldn't get back up the ledges on his own I had to go all the way back down and bring him up again, careful not to repeat my mistake.

Looking south on Kettla Ness from our puffin watching spot...

We carried on along the cliff tops before heading back on the other side of the island sighting great and artic skuas along with terns and oyster catchers and saw around 5 broods of eider ducks in the bay on the south side of Bannaminn Beach (around 20 chicks).

Last night Beren was invited to a sleep over with his best buddy and we had the best part of a day to ourselves for a change so Clare and I set off for a long planned walk around the local hills. It is years since we've been  for a decent walk together what with Beren and me suffering with CFS/ME for several years, so it was a real treat.

We set off from our door up the Hill of Berry and over to Burwick. From there we headed north, into the wind and drizzle. Clare said it was darker today than it's been most nights lately and she wasn't wrong, you'd never think it was mid summer next week!

Up The Hill of Burwick we went and followed the loosely defined ridge north over Setter Hill and up to Outer Knappy on The Hill of Griesta with a altitude sickness inducing height of 118m! 

Looking south from The Hill of Griesta as Clare ermmm....summits!

Looking north from the top over Tingwall Airport and out to Nesting...

We came back down into the Tingwall Valley and made our way back up to Berry Lane and home passing a well hidden gem of a garden that some one is developing on the hillside, complete with a little stone circle. We felt a bit guilty stumbling across it so no details or photos here, but if the owners happen to read this, it's lovely what you're doing there and we're very envious.

8 miles later we were glad to get home. Not the longest walk in the world, but it's hard going over rough moorland with no paths most of the way.

My bread that was proving while we out is now baked and lucking yummy, Beren's back in bed to catch up on his lost sleep and I'm looking forward to getting spoilt tomorrow. Well it is Fathers Day!

Tuesday, 5 June 2012


The jubilee celebrations seem to have pretty much slipped us by. We did watch some of the procession of boats down the Thames and felt a tad sorry for all those out in the rain while it was lovely here and enjoyed some of the live concert, but my main cause for celebration has been with out doubt my best sour dough loaves to date!

Two rustic batons with half whole meal flour...

And fairly fresh from the oven a large white. Blooming lovely!

Almost as lovely as the weather; which has been sunny but cool and just the odd brief sprinkling from the heavens.

Last night I went up Gallows Hill from the house to sit, meditate and watch this wonderful sunset. Sadly, all photos are on my phone for a while as my camera needs to go away to Nikon hospital, boo hoo...

Beren has been really getting excited about geocaching so we've been out and about doing that. It's great incentive for him to walk to places, but unfortunately many are too near the road, so called cache and dashes!

He's scootered to one in Scalloway and tramped to a few more, but we came across an odd one today out at Hulma Water. A nano magnetic one! I was hoping it was going to be on the great little island with a rock causeway to it, but it wasn't. It was very hard to find though as we didn't realise what we were looking for, more like something out of James Bond, a tiny little cylinder with a roll of paper in to sign and magnetically stuck some where!

We also went out to another one at Staneydale Temple which turned out to be on the roadside, but we had a good walk while we there to the temple and there abouts.

Looking over Scutta Voe. Foula was very clear to the eye today with detail of the hills even visible...

Some rocky hill tops near the temple where Beren could play his still favourite game, King of the castle. Saying that he has a new walking game now: musical walks, he sings and we have to stop when he stops singing. It must make amusing viewing for anyone watching us from a distance!

Now I'm off to eat some of that bread!

Sunday, 3 June 2012

West Burra

While Clare and Beren were doing a Sunday morning I went out for a stroll around the coast near Papil on Burra. Parking at the carpark for Bannaminn beach I headed west to the coast. It was a breezy but stunning day and the skies were full of birds.

Looking south down Kettla Ness from Virda.

A pair of ravens were hopping around the cliff edges and being hassled by black backed gulls...

 I was heading north up the coast for Whale Wick where you can see the stacks, just past Ruff Loch. A lovely little loch that empties over the cliff edge into the bay.

There are some nice little coves at Whale Wick and arches in those stacks.

The fulmars were on patrol...

 As well as them the air was full of black backed gulls and artic terns that were fishing both in the bay and the loch and plenty of noisy oyster catchers. I was lucky to see the arctic skuas come across too, but they were constantly hassled by the terns and the very aggressive oyster catchers. Again my lack of lens let me down, but here they are just as another oyster catcher raid was coming down on them.

I had a great walk and was driving home ready for some dinner when I spied a long tailed skua come up the bank from East Burra and over the top of the car. Quickly stopping I got out and untangled my camera from the junk in the car and managed to grab a few quick snaps as it passed back over towards East Burra. Again it was hassled by oyster catchers and couldn't settle anywhere.

Later in the evening we went for a walk with friends out from Hamnvoe over to the smugglers cave and left a geocache there before carrying on round the coast for a picnic at Meal beach where we sat watching the terns fish and the odd Bonxie wheel over head.

Not a bad day really!

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Foals and Nugles

This morning I took a wander over to East Burra to see if I could see the long tailed skuas that are over there. I didn't see them, but I did get some good views of a pair of artic skuas flying around and being harangued by oyster catchers, along with great skuas, curlews and plenty of other birds. I also saw a group of birdwatchers going up the banks where the long tailed skuas are nesting. Naughty naughty... there have been very clear requests for people not to go into the breeding areas, so don't! Sadly with my feeble lens power I couldn't get any decent photos of the birds, but it was great to watch them whirling around.

On the way home I went across to my favourite little beach on West Burra to see what was happening. The seals were there as usual along with terns and eiders, but the best surprise was the new batch of foals. So cute!

I could actually hear the slurping!

This foal was a bit wary of mum having a good old roll and scratch...

A little session of pony yoga on a fine day...

Later this evening we took a stroll up the Burn of Njugals water to Njugals water. It was a lovely evening and the ravens were croaking over head as we headed up the burbling burn. There are lots of little cascades and a section of smooth moss covered rocks with the burn flowing down. Not the most amazing burn in the world, but lovely none the less and Beren scaled.

It was actually some black backed gulls that were annoying the ravens not us. I guess they must be nesting up there some where.

When we got to Njugals water I was just telling Clare that last time I was here there were loads of arctic hares when the hill side suddenly seemed to move with loads of grey white blobs as easily over a dozen hare started heading up the far hill. Along with the hares the hillside was also covered with dozens of black backed gulls and the banks of the loch were littered with the remains of many fish with vertebrae everywhere.

It was silent up here save for the gentle swish of the Burradale sisters not far behind us.

On the way back I took Beren to see an old underground bunker not far off the track. We signed our selves into the geocache book that was in it and called for trowies, but thankfully never came across any!

As we headed down to the car there was a great view looking over the Brig o' Fitch and out to Dales Voe were I was sailing yesterday...

If it stay fine we'll likely be out with friends for a picnic tomorrow, though where we'll go I don't know yet...