Friday, 29 March 2013

Fantastic Foula...

Today was the day I finally got to Foula. Just a daytrip for work purposes, not that I'm complaining. There's plenty to see on Foula, far more than a day trip could ever do justice...


It was a fantastic day for the flight with clear skies and  travelling at only 1000ft meant everything was easy to see. 


Crossing Strom Ness...


Here we are passing over Reawick ...


And Westerwick...


Thar she blows...





The little airfield has a toilets, water and somewhere to wait. If you're camping the air field is the preferred spot with the toilets, water and shelter. You can camp elsewhere, but please be respectful of people and the land; Foula has more protected status's than you could shake a... bonxie stick at...


The airfield hut has sticks to loan for a £1 donation that goes to the school. It's worth checking out Foula Heritage for lots of information and self-guided walks and also to arrange to meet the rangers for a guided walk. 

I was meeting one of the rangers to look at some access works that are needed mainly in the north of the island. I also got a tour of the main parts, some history, points of interest and  good company.

There are only around 35 people on the island, a school and nursery with 5 kids in total attending (soon to be 6) and no shop. I was pretty impressed to see that as well as their problematic wind turbines for electric they a have a small hydro-electric scheme and solar bank along with a diesel generator that all feed into to a storage system to be distributed across the island.

Everything has to come in by plane or the small ferry that runs 2 or 3 times a week to Walls. I had a childish giggle when I saw the massive pack of toilet roll getting put on the plane!

Heading north. While the sheep got fed on route I took some photos...


One of my visits was in the area of Gaada Stack to look at some boardwalks and gates that are needed. Want a holiday let with a view? Look no further...


Gaada Stack and Da North Banks...


Da North Banks with East Hoevdi being the little promontory you can see sticking out in the middle of the photo... 


You get a great view of Da North banks from East Hoevdi...


After looking at the necessary there and around Ham it was back down to near the airfield to follow the path out from there through Da Daal to Da Sneck Ida Smallie...


Approaching the Sneck Ida Smallie with Wester Hoevdi as the little plateau down the cliff and Da Ufshins being the grassy banks above...


The sneck is formed by the sliding along joint and bedding planes of a massive block of the old red sandstone cliffs. It's up to 60m deep and 2m across with enormous boulders jammed in at various places along it's length. It reminded me of the canyons in Aron Ralston's tale, though green and wet! Anyhow I was hoping to reappear from it with all limbs intact! You can get down and through it to the cliff base, but be warned it's tricky and dangerous...


Once down you can also follow a line on the cliffs (just visible) along to Wester Hoevdi, but this is also risky if you're none too confident.I didn't have time today...


Looking back to Da Noup with the end of the Sneck visible...


Just to re-affirm entering Da Sneck Ida Smallie is not really advisable. It's slippy, steep, involves scrambling on steep slippery stuff and there's lots of dead things in there; you don't want to add to them! So be careful if you do venture in to the land of da trows...


Saying that  if you do wiggle down the chimney, avoid  the dead sheep, rabbits and birds, it's a pretty awesome place!


 Emerging from the Sneck looking north...


The sandstones are very spectacular  both in colour and weathering and the scale of the cliffs is very impressive, something that doesn't show in my photos...



I tried my best not to disturb the shags and fulmars that were getting settled for nesting, but it was pretty difficult as they were pretty much everywhere. The shags scared the life out of me honking from below tumbles of rocks when I least expected it.

It was soon time to be heading back towards the airfield for my return flight. Thankfully getting back out is easier than getting in.

Back at the airstrip I took the chance to soak up the late afternoon sun on one of Foula's many stone seats. Traditional resting spots on the island that have recently seen some refurbishment along with new ones being constructed. You probably guessed that they didn't traditionally wait for the plane here!


Many thanks to Magnus Holbourn for showing me round. I can't wait to get back, hopefully this summer for a few days camping and exploring. 

If you like your knitting you can now buy Foula Wool and you can stay here or  here while you knit! If you like your birds then Foula is definitely a place to go.

And a nice video with music by Fiddler's Bid to end with...






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