Friday, 21 September 2012

Papa Stour, a second visit..


It was a wet and windy Wednesday when I went to Papa Stour this week. Oddly it wasn't that great a day on my first visit to Papa Stour this Easter. May be next time I'll go on a still, sunny summers day!

I knew it was going to be a rough crossing, but was a little surprised when I reversed on to Snolda and was strapped down. The ferryman said he hoped I was a good sailor. I was looking forward to it...




It certainly got a little rocky with water flooding in across the deck from port and starboard at times and spraying over the side at others. I did get out to take a few snaps, but it wasn't a day to be wandering about the deck. A quick photo and then back into cover.

Leaving west Burrafirth...



Arriving in Papa Stour passing Maiden Stack...


Along with the sea, there were a few heavy showers on the crossing, hail at times and it set the tone for the day. Gorgeous sunny spells followed by torrential down pours. As I was there for work I couldn't complain.

After checking out a number of things I parked my car near these presumably recent standing stones an set out to check out the north east coastal route.



Scopa Wick just north of the ferry terminal...


This little headland had a couple of tunnels through it and a small blow hole that was working that day...


The coast is full of intriguing geos and bay like this one. I don't know it's name but it's just north of Geubery Head and on a better day a lovely spot to stay a while..


There then followed a blur of wonderful coast, waves and rain as I headed round to Jerome Coutts' Head and found out that the gaffa tape patch on my waterproof trousers wasn't water proof. Still with the patch at the back and the rain in my face not much got in! And it didn't rain all the time, some time's it was just sea spray!

To the west (far left) is Virda Field, a high point of 87m...


Jerome Coutts' head getting a thrashing...


The cut on the right in the above photo leads into The Creed a wonderful oasis of calm from the violent sea...


Looking back to Jerome Coutts' Head from Unglabreid across the entrance to The Creed...


And off the head there. There were some very big waves out there...


And further inland from The Creed is the massive West Voe which cuts almost back to where I'd left the car. The sea comes in through the centre of the photo and in the smaller area to the right is Robie's Noust, you can just make out the nick of The Creed in the horizon too near the right...


After a bit of a dry out in the car and some lunch I set out to check on some other bits and bobs and walk the coastal path on the southern 'blob' of the island, around the Hill of Feilie.

This stretch was a bit more reminiscent of the north and west coast of my first visit , though no way near as dramatic.

The massive Mo Geo with Sandness Hill in the distance across the Sound of Papa...


Looking west across Mo Geo with Foula just visible on the left of the horizon. Most of the time Foula seemed to have it's own down pour attacking it....


The near by ridge of Shepherd's Taing stretching out to sea...


And the stack with arches in it that is to the right of the photo above...


At this point I went over on my dodgy ankle, a loud crack and a pop a it pretty much popped out of joint and back in. I lay cursing or a while until it eased off and then hobbled on through the amazingly thick cliff top grass. Luckily I was not far from the car and also not far from Clingri Geo...



This geo is fantastic. Totally enclosed with two short tunnels leading into it from the sea, it's more of a 'hole' than geo I suppose. If I wasn't now incapacitated I'd have gone in for a closer look, as it was I gingerly made my way down to the coastal side of the tunnels to a rare feature in Shetland, a flat wave cut platform. The coast back home is covered in low exposed rock platforms, but usually the geology up here is so twisted up that a nice flattish bedding plane is rare. It reminded me of being back home on the rocks at Hummersea...


And that was more or less that for my second whizz around Papa Stour, now home to only 8 people. But I have the still standing offer of a cuppa from one of the residents next time I'm over, which I fully intend to take up and hopefully on a slightly drier day. Though I've got to say Papa Stour on these blustery days is pretty gorgeous, it would seem odd to have a flat sea and no wind!

Tomorrow I'm off to Nibon with a friend and ex-colleague. A little bit of kayaking with him to see how my sciatica fairs with a view to may be going back to a sit on top kayak next spring and a good bit of coasteering and cliff jumping to prove there's still a big kid in me!



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