Sunday, 20 November 2016


We've had some wonderfully calm, but cold wintry weather the last few days. Sadly I was working Saturday and most of Sunday too (surely a crime with such good weather!), but I took the chance for an icy mountain bike on Friday afternoon.

My route took me up Sundibanks above Scalloway...

And along the hill tops to Wester Quarff...

Where I joined a track to Easter Quarff ...

And a circuitous route to, and around, Brindister Loch...

All in bright sunshine, until half way along Cunningham Way above Lerwick when I had a cold sleety shower all the way home. Ah well, it was good while it lasted!

Returning from work on Saturday a friend wanted to know if I fancied a camp on Ronas Hill in the snow on a clear calm night. I did, but said getting up there in the car (or more accurately back down) might be challenge and I was time limited with work commitments on Sunday. Eventually we settled on a camp on Lunna Ness and took a bag of fire wood with us too.

It was stunning night. If only the northern lights would come out to play!

But they didn't.

But hey, I can't complain...

We even saw some shooting stars.

It was super night. Only spoilt by, it would seem, the buffet at the work event in the day giving me a very gippy tummy. Yes I had lots of opportunity to study the wonderful winter night sky all night long!

I've a couple of days off now, so I hope the fine weather continues and my stomach settles so that I can enjoy it!

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Waxwing delight

The waxwings have been about in Shetland again.

And again, despite having the biggest hawthorn tree (with some berries) in Shetland, and along with putting apples out, they've been avoiding our place.

The when I was on Foula Clare said she'd seen one in the tree. Typical! But luckily , just as I was heading out with Beren swimming the other day one was there. One, solitary, waxwing. But, wow, what a lovely bird!

May be I'll see another, or even a flock, but I'm not holding my breath!

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Friday on Foula

When I book a flight to Foula I'm never quite sure whether I'll get there; going in November adds to the uncertainty. But, third time lucky we set off. I only hoped I'd get back too!

It was a breezy day and the forecast was for it to kick up lots on the evening. I just hoped the wind didn't get here early.

Gaada stack at the north of the island as we swung around for the landing approach.

We landed in a squally shower, but thankfully it wasn't a sign of things to come. It was bright, breezy and quiet. With full waterproofs on to keep the wind off I set off on my round.

Some one has been doing a lot of work around this property and it's very nice, if not a tad on the compact size!

The burn at Ham with the ferry hoisted out in the harbour in the background.

And Ham Brig with a nice stone seat.

I was heading to the south end of the island. It's a wonderfully dramatic place.

At just about 11am on the 11th of November I was at the war memorial. Not a soul in sight.

Da Noup and Da Sneug as a dramatic backdrop to this old mill.

And I was heading up Da Noup. My first ascent of the mighty 248m (814ft) lump. It looks more imposing than it should and with the wind now building and me walking up in the acceleration zone it felt more like the climb up something much bigger!

Over the top I found a little shelter from the wind to enjoy a view of Mucklebrick's Wick and Da Sneug. One day I hope to go down Da Sneck I Da Smallie and then along the cliff base ascending to Waster Hoevda for a camp there.

Looking back to Da Noup from Da Daal.

I didn't go down Da Sneck. I didn't have time and it was running with water and slippy moss. I could see where a big block had slipped down in to the chasm giving a narrow gap to bravely walk under it on your way out to the coast. One for a summer trip.

Days are short as December approaches and the return flight leaves at 15.20, so I headed back towards the airfield down Da Daal. Looking back down Da Daal which runs between Da Noup (left) and Da Sneug (right).

Me and two other guys from the council who were waiting for the return flight got a little panicky. The wind was pretty high by the time the plane was due and the plane was late. Scanning the sky and straining our ears we wondered where we'd stay and how we'd eat if stranded. Eventually we heard the plane engine and then saw the growing image of our return flight. It was a little bumpy on the return flight, but all was fine.

A grand day dear Foula, but I'll not be back until next year.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Dog fight!

I've been out and about a lot lately; yesterday on Papa Stour, today on Fetlar and, weather permitting, tomorrow on Foula. Today I decided to pop along to the bird hide near The Loch of Funzie to eat my lunch. There didn't seem to be much happening, but it was a nice place to have lunch, when all of a sudden things livened up!

 A peregrine falcon appeared and a dog fight with a lapwing ensued.


It seemed to last for ages. Certainly 10 minutes with the swoops and tight turns over the ponds before the peregrine went up high and then swept down for another run.

Luckily for the lapwing it didn't get caught. At least while I was watching. It was certainly the most interesting thing I saw on Fetlar, the rest being bog, stiles, gates and a bridge!

Fingers crossed for my flight to Foula tomorrow...

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Seal pups!

So, on a windy wet day I took the ferry over to Papa Stour with a friend and colleague to check on the stiles, gates and a people counter and see if there were many of the seasons white cute fluffy things about...

And there were!


Hungry ones too...

Grey seal pups are very cute.

 And their Mum's aren't bad either. 

The Dad's are a bit ugly though! Just to be clear I was a good distance from them and these are cropped photos taken with a telephoto lens; didn't want to cause upset and my friend was counting them for records.

Sadly one wasn't so lucky. A crow was feeding on the poor thing.

I may get up to Uyea to see them there at the weekend if the weather's fine...

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Home and away...

We've just been away back to North Yorkshire to visit family and friends for the school holidays. Far too many meals out and in were taken and I'm needing a bit of a fast now to re-set my belly! Still we had a great time and managed to get out for a few walks and me for some rides too to walk off some of the excess.

I though I'd just share a few of our ventures from back home:

One sunny day we had a couple of hours walk around Captain Cooks Monument and wood near Great Ayton with Clare's Mam. It's a good while since I've been around there and it was a lovely day out...

Looking back to Roseberry Topping (the hill) ...

Captain Cooks Monument...


And continuing around Lonsdale...


We also had a visit to Whortlon Castle and old church near Swainby...

 And Beren even had a bath!

The old church and yard were very old and I would imagine creepy on anything other than a bright day! We spotted some graves from as far back as 1727! I thought the black and white treatment was suitable...



Of course I took my bike, road bike this time, and did a couple of rides with my brother. Popped up to Danby Beacon to say 'Hi' to Dad on nearly the 20th anniversary of his death on one of my rides...

 And did a few rides of the moors up on Blakey Ridge...

Including my first time riding up Chimney Bank. That was some effort! 1:3 or 33% at it's steepest; it was a killer...

Summit photo. No paramedics were involved, though it felt like a close thing!

 On our way back north for the ferry we spent a few hours at Holy Island or Lindisfarne. I decided to walk across on 'The Pilgrims Path' across the sands while Clare and Beren drove across the causeway. it took me about 45 minutes and left me with very wet feet as one channel I had to cross was knee deep. Still, it was a fun thing to do and quite lovely out in the flats.


There are two refuges on the way in case you get caught out.


Looking out to the Farne Islands...

And Lindisfarne Castle...

The final stop was a night in Edinburgh before we got the ferry back to Shetland from Aberdeen...

And that was the October school holidays. Back to work tomorrow!