Friday, 29 March 2013

Fantastic Foula...

Today was the day I finally got to Foula. Just a daytrip for work purposes, not that I'm complaining. There's plenty to see on Foula, far more than a day trip could ever do justice...


It was a fantastic day for the flight with clear skies and  travelling at only 1000ft meant everything was easy to see. 


Crossing Strom Ness...


Here we are passing over Reawick ...


And Westerwick...


Thar she blows...





The little airfield has a toilets, water and somewhere to wait. If you're camping the air field is the preferred spot with the toilets, water and shelter. You can camp elsewhere, but please be respectful of people and the land; Foula has more protected status's than you could shake a... bonxie stick at...


The airfield hut has sticks to loan for a £1 donation that goes to the school. It's worth checking out Foula Heritage for lots of information and self-guided walks and also to arrange to meet the rangers for a guided walk. 

I was meeting one of the rangers to look at some access works that are needed mainly in the north of the island. I also got a tour of the main parts, some history, points of interest and  good company.

There are only around 35 people on the island, a school and nursery with 5 kids in total attending (soon to be 6) and no shop. I was pretty impressed to see that as well as their problematic wind turbines for electric they a have a small hydro-electric scheme and solar bank along with a diesel generator that all feed into to a storage system to be distributed across the island.

Everything has to come in by plane or the small ferry that runs 2 or 3 times a week to Walls. I had a childish giggle when I saw the massive pack of toilet roll getting put on the plane!

Heading north. While the sheep got fed on route I took some photos...


One of my visits was in the area of Gaada Stack to look at some boardwalks and gates that are needed. Want a holiday let with a view? Look no further...


Gaada Stack and Da North Banks...


Da North Banks with East Hoevdi being the little promontory you can see sticking out in the middle of the photo... 


You get a great view of Da North banks from East Hoevdi...


After looking at the necessary there and around Ham it was back down to near the airfield to follow the path out from there through Da Daal to Da Sneck Ida Smallie...


Approaching the Sneck Ida Smallie with Wester Hoevdi as the little plateau down the cliff and Da Ufshins being the grassy banks above...


The sneck is formed by the sliding along joint and bedding planes of a massive block of the old red sandstone cliffs. It's up to 60m deep and 2m across with enormous boulders jammed in at various places along it's length. It reminded me of the canyons in Aron Ralston's tale, though green and wet! Anyhow I was hoping to reappear from it with all limbs intact! You can get down and through it to the cliff base, but be warned it's tricky and dangerous...


Once down you can also follow a line on the cliffs (just visible) along to Wester Hoevdi, but this is also risky if you're none too confident.I didn't have time today...


Looking back to Da Noup with the end of the Sneck visible...


Just to re-affirm entering Da Sneck Ida Smallie is not really advisable. It's slippy, steep, involves scrambling on steep slippery stuff and there's lots of dead things in there; you don't want to add to them! So be careful if you do venture in to the land of da trows...


Saying that  if you do wiggle down the chimney, avoid  the dead sheep, rabbits and birds, it's a pretty awesome place!


 Emerging from the Sneck looking north...


The sandstones are very spectacular  both in colour and weathering and the scale of the cliffs is very impressive, something that doesn't show in my photos...



I tried my best not to disturb the shags and fulmars that were getting settled for nesting, but it was pretty difficult as they were pretty much everywhere. The shags scared the life out of me honking from below tumbles of rocks when I least expected it.

It was soon time to be heading back towards the airfield for my return flight. Thankfully getting back out is easier than getting in.

Back at the airstrip I took the chance to soak up the late afternoon sun on one of Foula's many stone seats. Traditional resting spots on the island that have recently seen some refurbishment along with new ones being constructed. You probably guessed that they didn't traditionally wait for the plane here!


Many thanks to Magnus Holbourn for showing me round. I can't wait to get back, hopefully this summer for a few days camping and exploring. 

If you like your knitting you can now buy Foula Wool and you can stay here or  here while you knit! If you like your birds then Foula is definitely a place to go.

And a nice video with music by Fiddler's Bid to end with...






Sunday, 24 March 2013

Houss Ness, East Burra

Hehehe... I thought I'd posted this, but then saw it in my drafts!

The other weekend Clare and I got a rare walk together, but without Beren for a couple of hours, so we took Earl and went for a walk on East Burra out to Symbister on Houss Ness and then back around the coast.

Looking across Clift Sound to the Clift Hills...


I kayaked down to this point sometime back, but was struggling with a bit of dizziness so didn't get all the way around the ness...



Clare and Earl just before the heavens opened and the wind came howling in...


Earl is getting very good out and about and has grown so much, still needs to put on some condition though...




Sail, search and sandwiches!

As they say in lots of places, if you don't like the weather just wait a while and it'll change. Yesterday was bitterly cold and blowing a gale, but today has been gorgeous.

I met my friend down at Märta early on to go out for a sail out the south mouth. We had no particular destination in mind, just try out a few changes we'd made to the rigging and enjoy the day.

Her we are just heading south from the marina past the freight boat Helliar...


It was nice with an easterly breeze on the beam and not too much swell...


Coming upon the Ness of Sound...


But then we came into the path of the easterly swell that been running all week and playing havoc with the ferries. It got up to around 3m and with only a short period it got a bit bouncy with the foredeck getting a good wash, as did we at one point. After a while we decided we'd had our morning's fun and turned back north heading for the marina and a cuppa...


After packing away it was off to Sanick to search for Clare, Beren and our friends who had gone for a walk over to The Broch of Burland.

Passing Sandsayre Pier at Leebitten I stopped for a quick look at the seals hauled out enjoying the sun...


A short walk over the hill and I found them at the Broch of Burland...


 Looking from The Broch of Burland to Mousa Broch across the sound...


Beren and his friend enjoyed exploring the area and the broch, possibly in more detail than most! Here's Beren just emerging from his belly crawl inside half the broch, which included a slither over otter spraint by the smell of him...


After some mooching in the nearby geos and an old farm stead it was up over the hill and back to Sanick...


And down the other side, running jumping and rolling...


After a small breakfast at 7.30am and nothing else but a few cups of tea I was 'black fainting' and ready for the short drive to Bigton Hall for a lovely Sunday tea with a plate of sandwiches, home made mushroom soups and as many fancies as I could get down my throat!

I'll sleep tonight, if not before...

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Brrrrr...

Brrrr... it's been a cold day today. So was yesterday I am quite glad I didn't make it over to Foula as I don't think my flask of chai would have kept me thawed out!

We've had a bit of a lazy day with house work, the bit we needed to sort and a quick nip into Mareel to see the display by the Shetland Radio Racers in the auditorium; super dooper fast radio controlled cars.


We did go out for a wander roundabouts though and popped into Scalloway castle for a while...


Monochrome seemed a good colour for the day...



It's been a bit of a change after the lovely sunny days and especially near the end of March, but we've got off lightly all round this winter.


Beren loves exploring the castle and it's peep holes into the outside world...


 Earl found the stairs a bit challenging...


All I can say is he should have planned his castle a bit better; it would seem he has the place pretty much to himself- while we're at work???


In the morning I'm planning to go for a sail on Märta with my friend out the south mouth and after that who knows where other than back in the south mouth with the returning tide. Best wrap up very warm...

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Somebody's watching you... Gloup Ness

I've intended to get a photo of the guy up on Gloup Ness for a while. 

There's an old coastguard watch hut on the top of Gloup Ness with great views out over the sea and up to Muckle Flugga and Saxa Vord on Unst...


And it's certainly something that could give you a good gluff, especially if you came upon it in in some gloomy light...


The crofter has gone to a fair bit of effort and expense to set the watch hut up as if it was being used complete with a life size guy in a gansie! Must get cold up there all the time on your own eh!

If you ever get up there to have a look at him, pay close attention to him as there's another unexpected site!

here's the view looking back to the top of Unst with Muckle Flugga on the left and the dome of Saxa Vord on the right...



Monday, 11 March 2013

The far north; Saxa Vord...


There you go the most northerly inhabited place in the UK...


It might be a long where from most places but I'd not be too upset to live up at Skaw on Unst...


There are a lot of old RAF instalments in the area and up at the unmistakeable Saxa Vord, as well as a lot of old settlements. I wish I had more time to nose about while I was there, but I was lucky to have a lovely day so I can't complain...


Heading up to Saxa Vord radar station with Hermaness across the voe...


The station closed in 2006 but there's still warning signs and no-entry signs everywhere along with abandoned sentry posts, but other than a plastic chain across the gates it would seem it's fair game to wander about and have a nose...

History of RAF Saxa Vord is a blog about the history of the site.


The main radar dome looking in need of a lick of paint...




It's an odd place with covered walkways/tunnels connecting various buildings across the top of the hill. Gave me the creeps anyway; it would be an ace setting for some sort of viral plague scary zombie movie that's for sure!!!

Looking back down towards Burrafirth and the Loch of Cliff...


And past Hermaness to Muckle Flugga Lighthouse; just sea from here to the north pole...