Sunday, 12 September 2010

The Muckle Flugga Experience

Still Monday...... I did manage to pack a LOT into my time in Shetland, yet I never felt rushed at all. The long, light days made it easier of course.

When I arrived on Unst I headed straight for the campsite, to put up the tent while it was still dry, just in case.... Also did some hand washing and hung it on the line to dry, then headed off (at about 4.30pm) up to Hermaness Nature Reserve and the walk to see Muckle Flugga. I didn't bother taking the time to visit the the visitor centre (which may well have been closed by the time I got there anyway) or to study the map on the board at the start, as there were free leaflets to the reserve which had a map and gave information and the paths to follow... or so I thought....

Hermaness Shore Station looking across to Saxa Vord

Turns out the map in the leaflet is NOT accurate!!!!! Anyway, to cut a long story short, it was a long, boggy trek over the moors, quite a lot of bonxies around, often 'guarding' the path, but I wasn't divebombed.

bonxie path guard no 1

bonxie path guard no 2

bonxie path guard no 3
(are you getting the idea?)
This may have been the 'wrong' way to go - but it was spectacular. My first view of Muckle Flugga was the top of the lighthouse. Then as I came down the hill more appeared so I was seeing the island (rock!) it was on, then the next stack and the next, then the one completely covered in gannets, not fogetting Out Stack too. Then slightly further round and more inshore there were more stacks covered with nesting gannets. Wow, wow and wow again!!!! I did actually say wow out loud a few times!!! Absolutely spectacular. And even more special as there weren't hordes of tourists around - nobody in fact, just me and the gannets at the end of the world (well the end of the United Kingdom anyway!). A really, really special place, and well worth the trek across the moors.

I spent ages gazing at Muckle Flugga, and watching the gannets. It was great!

I followed the path round the edge of the reserve but it petered out (was it another sheep track, I thought to myself....) - turned out later I had been right and the path does continue round, but I was on my own, there were high cliffs, I couldn't see any path, there was a bonxie parliament guarding the way - so I decided to cut across the moors.

Another bonxie guarding another path!

Bonxie Parliament! This was only about 1/3 of the bonxies present at it!!

Heavy going at times, damp - and bonxie heaven. Was only divebombed a couple of times, but they did plenty of warning fly pasts too. 'Death valley', St Kilda is nothing compared to Death Valley, Unst when you're on your own!!!

Bonxie parliament no 2 - a slightly smaller gathering

Got back - eventually - to the original path and followed it back down to the choice of 2 ways to go. Followed the other path just to see, duckboard across the moors heading across the reserve.... nearly turned back several times as I was knackered but forced myself to keep going. Eventually got to the 'other side' and a view of the stacks, and just the top of the lighthouse.

Quite spectacular really - but there was something very special and exciting about the way Muckle Flugga gradually opened up before me the way I originally went - so I'm really glad I went the 'wrong way'. Met some folk later who'd also gone the 'wrong' way and lost the path and had to cut across the moor just like I did. Bad signposting!!


Stuart said...

Fiona, Cut to the chase is it worth the cost and expense to us city people or would we be better off in Skye?

Fiona said...

Stuart, I can't put into words how amazing Muckle Flugga was. Even though the boat trip got cancelled ....... (you'll need to wait for the next blog entry for that one!)

The whole trip to Shetland was amazing, and if I could afford it I'd be there again tomorrow! Yeah, Skye's more accessible and has amazing scenery, but Shetland just had a magic that I don't think I can put into words.