Sunday, 29 December 2013

Bezza and Baz's little adventure; Littlure, Burrastow

With a reasonable break in the weather we went out west with Beren's friend and his Mam. Our group trips out have become known as the Adventure Club trips and Beren's friend has a map of Shetland with stars on at the various places we've gone for our days out.

Clare has been wanting to get out west to Littlure on the coast near Burrastow for a while; it's a pretty intriguing spot on the map along with the nearby  Ellen Gray's Bottom. As we drove out west the weather was looking a bit less favourable but we carried on as the wind was a lot less than it has been and it was pretty mild too.

Parking at Lera Voe we headed up a track over the hill and into the rain. Stopping in the lee of an old byre we had lunch and then as we descended to the beach the weather cleared up and we had a lovely afternoon on the coast and exploring The Peak, a headland that has become and island; though it is still possible to get to it at low tide.

In the bay and tidal pool around The Peak were numerous grey seals which watched us as we pottered about. On the seaward side of the bay the sea was still pretty rough and with the low sun it was all looking very lovely.

Beren had brought 'sting' with him, a sword from The Hobbit' that Father Christmas brought him, it glows blue when orcs are around, though today it was a sniper's rifle that he used to check for baddies as we went on our walk!

Further along the coast at The Head of Uskiegeo we sat and admired the view at the hut that Clare is going to get me for my birthday (I wish!)...

I videod our little venture, so you can get more idea of the day and coast if you watch it below (in HD if you can)...

We did plan to go out again today, but for all it has been a lovely day other more mundane things have taken precedence, still there's still a weeks holiday to go...

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Boxing Day on the beach

After the atrocious weather of Christmas day it was nice to get out for a bit of fresh air down on Minn beach today on Burra. The wind was manageable and the weather pretty mild. Seemed like a few other families had decided to take advantage in the spell of better weather for a wander too.

Looking east to the Clift Hills...

We had a wander out to the Lotra of Minn to watch the waves and enjoy the mid afternoon sun...

After a while we had to head back to get a bite to eat and get sorted before we went to watch The Hobbit at Mareel (was great); glad we did leave then too! As we approached the car the sky was darkening and by the time we were ready to leave it was hailing and sleeting an none to pleasant.

It seems we're forecast another fortnight of gales; can we have lots of snow instead please?!

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Njugal's Water and The Hill of Steinswall

On Christmas Eve with gales battering the coast I decided to go for a walk on the local hill swhile I could; the forecast was just for worse wind and rain.

As you can from this footage by Hugh Harrop of Shetland Wildlife it was pretty wild down at Sumburgh Airport, what a pilot!

I headed out from the house for a couple of hours walk (8km) up the Hill of Steinswall that skirts the Tingwall Valley and around Njugal's Water.

Looking down to Scalloway...

It's a stiff climb to the hill line, but once there the views are great. Looking over Njugal's Water towards the Burradale turbines...

And down over Asta and Tingwall Lochs...

At the top of The Hill of Steinswall is a cross. It seems there's some confusion about it's purpose; to mark a plane crash, as a protest about the old Tingwall Foy (pressumably with drunken revelry?), or just as a folly? Anyway to me with the turbines in the background it said R.I.P. Hills of Shetland because once the turbines come there will be 80km of roads over the hills and peat bogs, 103 massive turbines and all that  is associated with it and it's construction across the main hill top ridges of Central Shetland.

I walked past the turbines (this handful I quite like) and down through peat bog to Njugal's Water where the wind was ripping across it's surface sending waves and spray flying even in this relatively sheltered location.

Here's a short video of my walk (watch in HD). it was lovely but very windy!

And now it is Christmas morning. Beren is busy building lego, I've got my new Ali Farka Toure with Ry Cooder album on and the wind is howling and the rain lashing. The police were called out to rescue a washed up seal pup at Tescos last night and I'd guess most people are tucked away either in bed or in their homes and thoughts go out to those that aren't.

Photo courtesy of Shetland News

Have a very Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Ness of Trebister

After a long wait and and organising a friend to look after Beren it was time for The Desolation of Smaug at Mareel, Woo Hoo! We were cooking up a hearty brunch complete with Doreen's Back Pudding freshly sent from home when the phone rang... the bloody film was cancelled due to a technical fault!!!

We'll it was a decent day so we decided to make the most of it with a couple of hours around the Ness of Trebister between Sound and Gulberwick. Parking at Quoys we set of along the coast...

First stop was The Grottie Buckie beach, a popular local beach and, as you can tell from the name, known for it's grottie buckies...


 After a search for a few shells, watching a couple of seals and taking photos we carried on around the coast. An easy walk but pretty soggy under foot today...

The Ness of Sound and Bressay...

The Rippacks at the end of the ness were a bit wild. The wind was icy enough without the cold spray from the sea...

From the more sheltered side of the Rippacks...

Heading back inland now with Gulberwick in the distance...

And the odd little gem along the way...

We walked nearly to the old cemetery before heading up and over the hill back to Sound. It was really cold and windy on top, but the view was excellent. Here's Lerwick and the Ness of Sound from Heog Berg...

A great walk on a great day as the sun starts to return  for the summer!

Friday, 20 December 2013

Stormy seas

With the high winds and tides we've had lately I've been out to check on a few coastal access points that could be in danger from the south-westerly seas. As I drove down towards Sumburgh the whole of the ness was shrouded in sea spray sweeping over from the west...

Last year we re-instated access to West Voe beach near to Sumburgh Hotel along with some protection of the dunes there. It took a bit of organising so I was keen to see how it was fairing with the rough weather. Thankfully the belt and braces job we did was looking strong and, despite it looking a bit over engineered on a nice day, you can see that it does need to be tough.

For lunch I took a wander down along Scat Ness. I could see it was going to be impressive and the chances of getting down to the Ness of Burgi were slim, but I had a look anyway. The seas were massive on the west side, something that the video below doesn't do justice. I did get some footage of the seas breaking over the small hand railed walkway between Scat Ness and the Ness of Burgi, but had accidentally recorded it on it's side! Needless to say I wasn't going to risk walking over there, though the safety rails looked like they were surviving so far. Last winter they got pretty mangaled and needed replacing.

Here's a short video (watch in HD) where you can see the relatively calm east side of the ness compared to the boiling sea of the west.

Another beach access I was keen to check on was a bit closer to home at Minn Beach at the south end of Burra. Again we'd re-instated formal access to the beach that was becoming a problem due to erosion and again it was looking nice and healthy. Job done!

The forecast for the Christmas break isn't a good,  it certainly won't be white, but we should be out and about a bit more. We're even thinking of camping over the winter solstice to see the sun rise, but not if the gale force winds keep up!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Into the windy woods we go

Clare was working this morning and after a late night last night Beren was being a lazy slug, so after a quick run and a couple of sets of pull ups and dips in the shed I set to.

I've been overhauling my outdoor gear, partly in light of my trip to Greenland next summer, and partly because I'm always trying to minimise my load. Out has gone the full trangia and I now only use the burner with a simple trivet and tin foil windshield along with a crusader cup canteen to cook, eat and drink from. I have experimented with various pop can alcohol stove designs, but as I have the trangia burner I'll just use that over there despite it's weight as it's very tough.

A suitable lightweight tent is an issue for Greenland too. I've been using a tarp/bivibag arrangement lately, but with the prospect of midgies, mosquitos and black flies in Greenland a full tent is needed. I should be able to loan one from my friend, but not knowing the weight and size I thought I'd look at lightening one of my small tents by cutting out un-needed tags and toggles and the packing bags etc. I'm also thinking I might just get a snugpack ionosphere for the trip given my 20kg luggage allowance and the need to fit my camera gear in somewhere. Even with a cabin bag taking everything including my freeze dried food is going to be a struggle.

After a morning of faffing about, which includes Beren now sleeping in a tent erected in his bedroom, we went to meet Clare and head off to Bonhoga for lunch and to look at the excellent exhibition of work by Paul Bloomer. The food was great and so was the art work.

Bellies full we then headed off to Kergord Woods. We were a little worried going in the woods with the high winds that have been battering the isles as the woods are needing a little TLC. We risked it anyway and didn't experience any widow or orphan makers on our trip. In fact someone has made a bit of a start in logging up some of the fallen dead wood, though they've got a long way to go and the place is still full of hung up trees and free standing dead wood. They've also replaced the big swing and begun making a few bridges across the burn. Excellent!

It was a good laugh and we all managed not to hurt ourselves despite me walking across a pretty high and long stem the curved over the burn.

The wind really was howling...

On the way home we stopped on Wormadale for a sunset photo. The wind was so strong I could hardly hold the tripod still and waves and spray were whipping up the voe. It's forecast to get stronger too.

Only one week until the Christmas break and it's looking like another week of gales and rain, let's hope it then eases for some nice days to get out over the holidays!

Saturday, 14 December 2013


Despite the lack of posts recently I've not actually been in hibernation! Things have been a bit hectic with one thing and the other and the weather has been distinctly challenging leading to less time out and about. When I have been out the weather has not been conducive to bringing out the camera. We've had everything from storm force gales and rain to calm and fog, and from -3c snow and ice to 12c t shirt weather; it's all rather odd!

I've seen a couple otters in the last week. A freshly dead one up near Mu ness on Unst that I doubt you'd want to see photos of and another swimming close to shore in Sand Wick on Whalsay that I didn't get to photograph as I was deep in discussion at the time with a work issue.

Beren and I have been out and about and last week when the schools were closed I worked from home and we had a lunch time sledging session on Berry Hill in Scalloway. It was pretty nippy with wind driven snow being no fun at times, but we did have fun.

I managed to mangle my ankle when I hit a rock on the way down leading to a spectacular and painful wipe out where I just managed not to squash Beren when I landed on him. It was fun though!

Today's been another lazy start to the weekend with household jobs to do both inside and outside and parties to go to, but we did get to the park for a little fun while the weather was fine earlier. As I type we now have gales, rain and more cancelled ferries. Well it is December.

Tomorrow will probably bring more of the same wind and rain, but you never know...

Sunday, 1 December 2013

A gentle winter sail

With a forecast for a dry day and light winds I met Martin at Voe marina for a little winter's sail around Papa Little where Clare and I managed to land on a sandbank last time out. Today it was a very low tide and the sand bank was well exposed in all it's massive glory, needless to say we never went anywhere remotely near it!

I'd also brought along my kite with my polaroid xs100 action camera to try my luck at photos off the back of boat. There was only just enough wind to sail at times never mind get a kite up that's supposed to need a minimum of 8mph before the weight of a camera is added, but with some faff and hilarity we did manage to tow it as we motored back into Voe.

 And here's a little video of some of our trip. Once we got out to Vementry the swell got quite steep and sailing with a following sea in the light wind made not slopping our cuppas a challenge! Once behind Papa Little the wind said good bye for good and by the time we returned to the marina the water was like glass. A great little trip out though...