Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Shetland day 2 - a campsite with a view

It poured all night until 6.30am. The ground was very waterlogged and the tent soaking (though dry inside). I shook it a few times to try to get it to dry before I took it down! The midges were out in force; they initially followed me around while I had my breakfast below the tent, in the little garden.

I could have gone into the building, but that somehow felt like 'cheating' and not 'real camping' but I'm sure I'll soon change my tune on that one... As I walked around they seemed to have gone , great - but no, they were all waiting at the tent! Taking down the tent wasn't fun!! The midges had a feast on me......

It was a lovely but misty morning but with breaks in the cloud, threating to get sunny.

I headed to Sumburgh and had a lovely hour with the puffins, the time being crowned with an otter sighting. At first I thought it was a seal playing in the surf - but then realised from the size and shape of the body it was an otter!! Exciting, although it vanished very soon.

It's interesting seeing the airport since they extended the runways a few years ago. They reach out into the sea (which can make for an interesting experience landing there) and also have been extended right across the road at the other end, so at times the road to Sumburgh is closed when planes are landing.

I then headed to Lerwick for a think. I had planned to go to Noss but the extremely thick mist made them cancel the ferry. All day! Seems a bit early (10am) to cancel it for the whole day. Most of the things I want to do involve scenery, so the mist is really putting paid to my plans....

I went to Tesco to get some fresh fruit & veg, and was advised that when it's misty in Lerwick it can often be clearer over in Scalloway. So off to Scalloway I headed. The mist did seem to be lifting as I headed in that direction and the sky was definitely looking a bit lighter ahead. Good decision.

Nice scenery; I drove across the bridge to Burra Isle and right down both East and West Burra. Bleak but beautiful.The sky was getting brighter the whole time.

Bridge End

Hamnavoe was a nice wee village with a pier and small marina. (There's sports centres and marinas everywhere; Shetland know how to use their oil money well, unlike Orkney...)

I visited Scalloway Castle which I felt showed a lot of similarities to the Earl's Palace in Kirkwall. Build by Patrick Stewart, Earl of Orkney.

Then went a walk along the 'front' if you can call it that) and spotted the Shetland Bus memorial. By the time I'd done that, the museum was open so I went in there for a while and had a look at the displays; very interesting, especially the one about the Shetland Bus.

Back to Lerwick for petrol - and ice cream (as I'd somehow forgotten to get some yesterday!!!). Mmmmm, small tub of dairy-free organic chocolate ice cream, yum.....

Headed out again, with vague plan of heading straight for Eshaness. Then the brighter weather drew me west again, so ended up on a long detour out to look over Papa Stour - from Sandness. Small, single track road over moorland, lots of peat cuttings, very unlike the rest of the scenery I've seen so far. The last 14 miles out to the view of Papa Stour wasn't really worth it to be honest but at least I've 'covered that bit of ground' now! The first bit was lovely though - amazing views over Whiteness area. I learned very rapidly that if there's a parking sign, stop at it. Most of them were at the most scenic points, great planning (unusual for a council).

 Whiteness from above Westings campsite.
Camping bod near Whiteness 


 View of Papa Stour

 Then rather than going all the way back to Lerwick, I cut across via Aith. That was a lovely, scenic road, to Voe where I found this fish sculpture.

Passed through Brae, didn't like the look of it at all. Then on to Hillswick and Eshaness. Didn't stop to look at much as it was spitting a little by then, with the wind picking up and the sky dulling right down and I wanted to get to Eshaness and get the tent up before the rain came.

The campsite at Eshaness is very scenic - I've got an amazing views of Da Drongs out the door of my tent. Sat enjoying the view, with a glass of wine ... or to be honest, a red plastic cup of wine! Nice anyway...

Tent with a view......

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Shetland part 1 - the adventure begins...

I was initially a little unsure about setting off on my own, and camping on my own, as I've never put up a tent on my own before! However, I realised that I have a choice if I want to do things - I can choose to do them on my own, or I can choose not to do them, so off I headed....

The first stop after leaving the house was actually the Arts Theatre in Kirkwall, for the Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain concert. As always, the lads were in great form, keeping us amused with a variety of tales as well as tunes. The 'stand out' tune of the evening for me was a new one, from the new album 'Portrait' (which I bought to accompany me on my travels around Shetland). The tune is 'By Dundas Loch', written about wildlife watching at the loch near Phil's house. Beautiful. My only complaint about the whole album is that it is too short! I can't say the same for the concert - first up on stage were the Canadian band Tiller's Folly. They were excellent, and an unexpected bonus to see such a well-known band as 'support' to someone else. Phil & Aly as usual entertained the crowd for a good time, with an interval in between their 2 sets, such that I was slightly pushed for time heading for the 11.45pm ferry. Luckily the people leaving the Arts Theatre let me run down the steps past everyone so I got my car out of the carpark before anyone else and made it in plenty of time for the ferry (although I was the last car to arrive).

I had very little sleep on the boat, the recliner chairs are ok but not very comfy to sleep in, you can really only lie comfortably on your back and it's far too bright. Had my fleece kind of bunched up between my neck and shoulder as a pillow so I could turn my head to the side, and had the sleeves tied round my head to block out the light as much as possible. It was quite noisy though, and every time the guy behind me got out of his seat he bashed into the back of mine. Grrr! And as for the Northlink 'air freshener' thing (which I loathe anyway as I hate the kind of chemical smell from it....) - well it made a noise (clunking and clicking followed by a hiss) every time it spurted out the horrible smelling stuff - and it did it regularly all night.....

Arrived in Lerwick at 7.30am, to a lovely day so I headed straight off for Clickimin Broch.

After stopping off at the tourist office to collect some leaflets (very well designed leaflets about each area/parish and island, complete with maps showing the main sites, best places to view wildlife, etc) I headed south to Aiths Voe, near Cunningsburgh, for the boat trip to Mousa. It was a great teip. The boat was very busy, but on the island everyone seemed to vanish... I met a Belgian couple, who are heading to Orkney next, and also got chatting to some young lads who were doing a school project.

Mousa's a really nice island, I had a walk right round it. Saw lots of seabirds (including puffins from the boat) and seals too.

The broch is amazing - big chambers in the walls and you can climb right to the top. It's the best preserved broch anywhere - although there's still not enough of it to really get a proper idea of what brochs were used for! On the way out I saw a dolphin or porpoise (don't know which) and on the way back we saw 2 porpoises.

From the top of the broch

Path round the top

Steep and narrow stairs

It's really quite big inside the broch, and the chambers in the walls were much bigger than I was expecting, with interesting ceilings narrowing towards the top.

Mousa broch

Then I headed off to the campsite as the weather seemed to be changing and I wanted to get the tent up while it was still dry, just in case.... Pitched the tent - quite a sense of achievement having done that ony my own for the first time, then cooked my tea (noodles, with a sauce made from peppers, onion, garlic, ginger, spring onion (ok the garlic, ginger and spring onion bit was from a tube!) herbs, tomato and mackerel (the mackerel was tinned!). It was good, ate it outside. Proper camping!

I got chatting to some other folk at the campsite; they'd been on the trip to Mousa too. Two wee boys (one still in nappies) - and they're cycling - no car - I don't know how they're doing it, very impressive! They've changed quite a few of their plans now they've realised how hilly Shetland is for cycling!

Headed out again at 7pm as the weather was still good, looked like it was maybe even brightening up so I headed to Spiggie Loch, Spiggie/Scousburgh Beach (ok but lots of campervans) and then found a gorgeous little bay, very private, and complete with stacks, a wee boat moored out and some boat nousts with old wooden boats in them. Lovely.

Then I headed off to St Ninian's Isle - walking across the sand tombolo, bit of a walk on the island and then had a look at the chapel site where the St Ninian's Isle treasure was found. It really doesn't seem right that the finder of this got nothing, and none of the original pieces (only replicas) are in the museum in Lerwick (which is well worth a visit, I was there at the start of July and may well visit again, depending on the weather this week.)

By then it was about 1/4 to 9, so I headed to Sumburgh Head, hoping to see puffins. Just as I got there the heavens opened, so I abandoned that for another day and headed back to the campsite.

Sat just inside the tent, in the drizzle, enjoying the view, until I realised there were midges - and they were biting! So fastened up inside the tent, unfortunately fastening in a good few midges in the process. Cue new game - catch the midge!!

Wonder what tomorrow will bring?