Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Lunch Al Fresco


The last week was pretty typical autumn weather for a our visitors and then as if by magic the day after they left the sun came out and it was lovely.
 
I managed to sneak in a nice couple of hours sail on Märta with Martin and the next day Beren and I were out and about and went up to Kergord Woods, complete with monster truck, for a little lunch al fresco...


Here's a short video of our time in the woods. If the videos are getting annoying don't worry, they're more annoying for me with a 5 minute video taking a full 24hrs to upload!

Anyway here's our little camp in the woods and us cooking on our wildwood stove...




Not a bad spot to relax for a while before going back to work...



Saturday, 26 October 2013

Life's a beach...

I spent an hour and a half sat in the cold wet ebb stones the other morning watching and photographing a group of grey seals at a spot I like on Burra. I got a bit cold, but it was worth watching the young seals rolling in the gentle waves, coming on and off the shore and the big bull seal having a bit of a tussle with one of his hareem.


I approached slowly and carefully over the rocks, was seen eventually , but my presence was put up with. The watched me now and then and then got on with there own thing with out any obvious concern...



Mr and Mrs keeping an eye on me from the sea...


Here's a video I made of them, lounging around, rolling in the waves and sleeping in the sea (bottling). Apologies for the shakiness, I was shivering a bit! From 7:05 there is a bit where Mr and Mrs Seal get into a bit of a tussle, I was thinking I might see it lead to more and a XXX video rating!

              

It was wonderful watching them so closely, but next time I'll wear some thermals!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

A few macros from the woods

I've been out and about a bit with my in-laws visiting, but the weather hasn't been up to much, especially not for photography. We've 'done' Eshaness including a Sunday soup and sweet and Tangwick Haa, done the sooth end and today Michael's Wood, The Burn of Lunklet, Frankies, Loch of Voe, Kergord and Bonhoga. We had planned on Unst, but the ferries were fully booked on the morning.

I did catch this nice seal at Sand Wick on Burra the other day though...


And our visit to Kergord today had a few gems to brighten up the day...




Many of the fungi that I expected to see had gone over, but there were some other interesting little things. I've no idea on Id. of these so help if you do!


 

With the typical October weather there's no set plans for the rest of the stay, but rest assured we'll be out some where and may be even see some of the cool birds that have been showing up of late...

Sunday, 20 October 2013

A big boy, little boy camp at Da Brigs O' Vementry

The overnight forecast wasn't too great, but Beren was determined to go camping. Knowing that wind and rain were forecast and that he wanted somewhere to hang out we took the big tent rather than the tarp. Well, actually I pretty much took everything and he took a bag full of toys.

I decided a night at Da Brigs O' Vementry, near Aith, would be a good spot. Not a long walk from the car, lovely views and a place that I'd watched otters before. Here we are just setting off...


Around a mile over the hills along a stone track and you arrive at Da Brigs.A great spot between the voe and a tidal pool. As you can see the weather was wonderful and reflected in the tidal pool...


Looking west into the voe ...


After we'd set up we pottered about, skimmed stones, threw big stones to make big splashes and played with Beren's toy plane and while we played I set the camera up taking a few time lapse sequences as the sun began to set...

Best in HD


All in all a pretty good start to my holidays and may be the last chance I'll get to take out Beren overnight this year.


The view from the tent was ace and I hoped that I might be able to sit there and just watch otters in the loch, but not this time...


The forecast was right and overnight the wind got up and the rain came, but thankfully the worst of the rain held off until we'd packed the tent and got back to the car.

Here's a short video of our over nighter. 



Clare's' Mam and husband are up today and sadly the forecast is looking pretty poor, both for their ferry crossing and the week of their stay. If only they'd come a week earlier! Hopefully we'll get some clear spells in the week and atleast the Easterly winds might bring across some interesting birds; I hear the waxwings are already arriving...


Tuesday, 15 October 2013

North meet South; Lighthouses...

For some time there has been a plinth at the car-park at Sumburgh Head as part of the on going developments there. I thought may be it was going to be a viewing platform, the sort of thing that might have telescopes on to put your 20p in, but no, it's for some thing much more unique.

The old Muckle Roe Lighthouse...


I had a sneaky nip inside...


And enjoyed the view up to Sumburgh Head Lighthouse...


I very much doubt you'll be allowed to go up there when it is an 'information kiosk' which is a shame as it's pretty ace!

Anyway it's good to see the Sumburgh Head development coming on a pace and apparently the view from the new education centre  up there is pretty fantastic so I look forward to visiting it next spring when it should b all finished and open.

Uyea; the video...

Well it only  took a day and a half for the video to upload, almost as long as my trip! I hope you enjoy the scenery.

Best viewed in HD...




Monday, 14 October 2013

A misty Hermaness

As I headed north to Unst the first sight I came across as I waited for the ferry at Toft was a line of Black Legged Kittiwakes queuing up along the jetty. I had hoped for otters, but these were very  nice too...


Up on Hermaness NNR it was very wet and foggy. The board walks that SNH put in were useful in the wet conditions, but god what an eyesore with a mix of timber old black 'plastic wood' and more modern plastic 'timber' decking boards. They actually gave me a head ache with a strobe effect as I walked out over them. The piles of plastic wood deck boards along the path that seem to have lived there for years don't improve the view either. I know they need to do something with the visitor numbers and peat bog but...

Still once at the coast the path reverted to natural as I headed north. Very natural in parts, so I was glad of my new boots; Lowa Mountain Boots which I highly recommend.

As I approached Muckle Flugga the fog was thick and the drizzle a bit grim, but it lifted long enough for a quick snap before I headed up Hermaness Hill...


At the top of the hill is the remains of a watch tower; a precursor to the Saxa Vord emplacement on the opposite hill? (An anonymous commentator said it was a signal station for Muckle Flugga)


The route back to the car-park from here takes you over blanket bog with sections of old wooden board walk interspersed with bog to wind your way around and over and great view of Saxa Vord across Burra Firth...



The summer is the time to come here for the wide range of breeding birds on the cliffs including the very welcoming puffins and not so welcoming bonxies. At this time of the year there were still plenty of gannets about and of course the fantastic scenery is great to walk in all year round, atleast when the fog lifts!

Sunday, 13 October 2013

A wild camp on Uyea and the Burn of Brettoo


Taking advantage of a good forecast I set off from Sandvoe to walk the coast to Uyea and camp there the night. I wasn't sure if I might even camp there a couple of nights or move along the coast to the falls on the Burn of Brettoo and stay there the night too. As it panned out it was only to be a one night trip for no other reason than poor preparation.

I always heard that you really should add around 10% water to meths for the stove, it helps to stop pans going black (which doesn't worry me) and I assumed it might last longer. If I'd stopped to think I would have realised it also brings the heat of the stove down and so lengthens cooking time and a by-product of that is you'd need more watered down fuel by volume than the standard meths. 

Now if I'd have tried my watered fuel at home I would have realised, but I didn't and so my first brew stop took an age. An age to light the stove and an age for it to get to a near boil, which meant it also used more of my fuel than planned. The result being that I didn't have enough fuel to stay out a couple of nights (and there's a distinct lack of wood where I was) and what fuel I did have didn't get hot enough to cook properly. Lesson learnt! I had a great time anyway.

It was an amazing day for October. Calder's Head up a head...


The Point of Fethaland behind in the distance...


Uyea coming into view...




The tide wasn't low, but the sand bar was built up enough to get across to Uyea, though to get onto the island properly I needed to wait a while. This is where I realised my fuel error, but I had time to kill and a view to die for while the water almost boiled...



There were many seals on the beaches around Uyea including about 9 grey seal pups that I saw. I tried not to disturb them as I walked past and took a few photos on my way on to the island.


I set up my home for the night and went for a little explore as the sun was setting.


The bay, The Haa, was full of fire wood and I had hoped to have a little fire here on the evening, but it was also full of seals and their pups so I decided not to disturb them. I've never seen such a bank of drift wood in Shetland.


It was a wonderful sunset...



And a cracking night too...


The next day I packed up to head along the coast to the Burn of Brettoo and the impressive looking falls that are there. Yet another stunning day...


The waterfalls at the Burn of Brettoo down to the sea were most certainly worth the walk there...




From the Burn of Brettoo I went up on to the Beorgs Uyea to look for the remains of the neolithic axe factory  that is there. Here's the view from the top looking back to Uyea...


The hillside is scattered with the remains of stone quarrying and for all the 'axe factory' isn't much to look at it is pretty interesting. A wall and roof of stone was built along side an outcrop of the quarried felsite rock to offer some protection from the elements whilst working up here. 


The view looking up to Ronas Hill from the Beorgs...


From here I walked back to the car at Sandvoe by way of the very peaty Hill of Sandvoe. I had a great night out and couple of days walking and despite one night less than was planned it was all good fun. I'm editing a video of my trip so if you check back here in a little while it should be on here too with lots more sights an sounds of the coast.

If you're feeling fit and the weather and tides are right a walk out to Uyea is a real treat.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Strandburgh Ness, Fetlar

The other week I was up on Fetlar checking on some work on a path that goes out from The Haa of Funzie to Strandburgh Ness along with some other bits and bobs. It was pretty windy, as it often is up here in autumn, but a lovely day none the less. There wasn't too much in the way of obvious birdlife about, bonxies, gannets, and geese, but I know there have been some interesting migrants turn up lately. I just didn't see them, but then I wasn't looking for them either!

Looking up to Saxa Vord from Baa Neap, a high point of 85m...


And in a southerly direction with Out Skerries to the left and Noss and Bressay more centrally...


The Ness is a nice rocky headland with a myriad of geos , small caves and arches; some where to investigate further I think...


Looking across the Wick of Gruting. There are no formal routes there, but it looks like another fine bit of coast and -shock horror- I saw a couple of people walking over there. That's a rarer find than some of the birds!


At the end of the ness is a holm -Outer Brough- that had a monastery in the distant past. Today it was just covered in grey lag geese which took flight as soon as I got any where near. Odd really as there is no obvious way across to it.


Inner Brough with Outer Brough at the end across a deep vertical chasm...


As with many areas of Shetland there are lots of old buildings about. This one at Strand must have been a fine house in it's day. It's a pity a some of these aren't restored and modernised in favour of the new Scandinavian style developments that pop up every where.


Fetlar is a great place for walking and wildlife. I bit of a trip to get there with a ferry to Yell, Unst and then Fetlar, but plenty of opportunity on the way for whale and otter watching, not that I've seen any yet from the ferry. There is an airstrip, but there doesn't seem to be any scheduled flights which is a shame.

Oh one last thing... just watch out for the sweety machine at the ferry terminal; it's one of those that often doesn't like to give up it's treasures! Though judging from it's position last time I popped in people have been vigorously rocking it to retrieve theirs!