Saturday, 4 September 2010

Shetland part 3 - Into the heart of a volcano

That's how the Eshaness area is described. It's a geopark, and has a great leaflet which shows walks and explains some of the geology.

It was a cold morning, after a cold night! I headed up to the Eshaness Lighthouse to do the coastal walk, which took about 2 1/2 - 3 hours. Was very glad of my gloves, had them on for the first hour and a half!! And had 2 fleeces on and was very glad of them too!

There's lots of stunning scenery and rock formations, all volcanic and very interesting. The leaflet that explains the geology of the area is extremely useful in helping you understand what you're seeing.

I did the detour/extension to the walk, to the Gloup and broch. The broch was, as expected, a heap of stones, albeit interesting as it was stuck out into a little lochan, more like a cross between a broch and a crannog. But it didn't seem like much really after Mousa!

red throated diver

The gloup was absolutely gorgeous, even nicer than the Deerness one. I nearly didn't go to it as I had thought how could it beat the Deerness gloup? It was just as impressive to look at, although you couldn't have paddled into this one the same as the tide didn't come the full way in - but it was lovely and peaceful, you could hardly hear the surge of the sea, just the waves on the beach in the gloup. Also the lambs, birds and the tinkling of the 2 small streams tumbling into the gloup - it was so peaceful, just gorgeous, and such a contrast to the rest of the coastline at Eshaness which is stunning but really reminds you the whole time of the power of the sea.

These boulders have been thrown up onto the clifftop during storms, which gives some indication of the awesome power of the sea here.

pillow lava
Back at the lighthouse (car park full of idiot tourists!!) and headed along the other way a bit but didn't find the blowholes (guess they have to be blowing to easily find them!).

Then I headed to Stenness beach - next stop on the 'Shetland volcano trail'. It's a nice pebble beach; apparently agates can be found here but I didn't spot any. Walked over to the other side of the beach to look at the rocks as advised by the leaflet, but to be honest I didn't really spot the vesicles (air bubbles in lava) where agate apparently forms.

Went a bit further and got a good view of the lovely wee island with an amazing arch I'd spotted earlier.

I spotted 3 kayakers heading for it (I knew the Shetland club were paddling in this area today but thought there would be more of them than 3). Anyway, I sat for a while and watched until the paddlers came through the arch - I wasn't at the best angle to get photos (and would definitely not have had time to get back to the car and round to the good vantage point in time) but took a few pics anyway - they give a good sense of scale.

Then I headed along to the museum (and toilets!) and had a quick look at some displays but was really too tired to take in what I was reading so I decided to head back to the campsite for a very late lunch, as it was almost 3pm by this time.

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