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?

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