Monday, 24 February 2014

Da Mirrie Dancers over Da Scord, Scalloway...

On my way back from Tai Chi in town last night I stopped in the dark of the Brig O'Fitch to see if there was any aurora activity in the clear starry sky and by jove there was!


It was all pretty wonderful so I drove to the old bit of road at the top of the Scord and set up my camera...


And stood, and wobbled in the wind and soaked it all in...


Never has the Scord Quarry looks so lovely...




It was really cold and I was tired, so I only took photos for just over half an hour. I've put them into this time-lapse which I have to say I am over the moon with. Yes I'm rather chuffed! Watch it in HD and fullscreen...



Sunday, 23 February 2014

Fethaland, west, east and a bit in the middle...

I had another trip up to Fethaland last week to finish checking on some things up there. It was a dry blustery day, wet under foot, but not as cold as the last couple of times I was up there.


Parking at Isbister I headed up the main track to Fethaland, the fastest way there, but not advised for walkers with dogs due to the cattle at the start. 

After passing the Loch of Upper Setter I needed to head over the moor to the western coast before heading back along the coast to Fethaland. This gave me some different and wonderful views of the Isle of Fethaland and skerries beyond.


And gives access to some lovely bays and geos...


Approaching Fethaland from the west I much nicer than the view down the main track...


After a bit of lunch at the old Haaf Station (haaf fishing) it was time to be heading back to Isbister, but this time via the Eastern coast which gave another unique view back to the isle...


There's lots of archaeology around Shetland from impressive brochs to humps and bumps and small remains like this. I've no idea of it's origin, but it's clearly old with an obvious entrance and stone walls with earth banked up around them.


And further along the coast are a number of kames with the remains of early Christian hermitages on their inaccessible heads...


I fancy a camp here one night. Could be an interesting night...


The Kame of Isbister is the least accessible with several sites on it. It's even had an extreme archaeology programme aired about it.


10km or so and a few hours later I was back at the car after a productive day and great walk. You can check out Walk Shetland for a guide to the 'regular' walk or The SIC's Corepaths Plan for more formal routes.

And finally here's a video of my walk including some footage of seals at Fethaland...


Oh, and if you do go there you'll notice this odd sight on your way...



A plane that crash landed at Sumburgh some time ago that was salvaged to be used as a shed. What a shed!

North Mavine Up Helly Aa 2014

As I was travelling up north for work I passed this colourful chap near Swinister...


The sheep has been there for some time, but not usually so well dressed. It was enough to remind me that the day was North Mavine Up Helly Aa! Being a fine day a plan came to mind involving a fish supper at Frankies followed by watching the procession near Urrafirth. 

The boss agreed and so after work and our fish supper we found ourselves sitting for an hour and a half in the car, on an empty road, in the dark with rain lashing against the windows playing 'I Spy' and 'Guess what animal I am'. Beren also pee'd himself! We were early, very early!

Thankfully the rain stopped as we occasionally heard the odd sound of a brass band over the noise of the wind and saw a line of torches heading down the road.

It was pretty wild and windy outside the car, but no-one minded as the procession, led by a colourful galley, headed to the burning site. At least the wind was in the right direction blowing the sparks away from us.


The galley was filled with burning torches and set a drift, but with the wind the torches were close to spent and the galley took and age to get going.

Kenny Williamson the Guiser Jarl did his stuff along with the rest of his squad...



And all the while the wind tried to fan the flames and get the galley burning. It took along time, but by the time we were driving past some time later it was actually properly a fire. I didn't stop to get any photos of that, but here's one as the crowd waited...


Here's a short video of some of the procession, not a bad way to spend a Friday evening.



Next week we plan to go to Bressay Up Helly Aa and hope the weather will be a bit milder...

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Sun!

Wow! We've had a couple of lovely days with sun and no wind! There's no where better to be than Shetland when it's like that, sadly it's all going to change back to wind and rain tomorrow, but it was lovely while it lasted, and it will return!

I was up near Fethaland yesterday and the sound of summer approaching was all around with the piping oyster catchers and fulmars being much more active and vocal. I do love fulmars or spoot maalies as they are known up here...


I hoped to see some otters on my walk along the coast so had my long lens handy. I didn't see any, but I did see these prints in the mud. It just shows how wet has been for a small animal like an otter to make such deep prints...


Today I also managed a quick escape from the office after a sunny scenic 8km run to the tip and back at dinner time. After checking on proposed development at Sound where the sea looked very inviting I was down to Leebitten to look at a hole. While I was there I took this photo of the restored Sands Ayre Pier, sadly a couple of guillemots were floating dead alongside it...


It's forecast to be a clear night with the chance of aurora so fingers crossed...

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Blowing the cobwebs away...

I've not been well lately, the bad guts that stopped my camp at the Stanes O'Stofast the other week has been grumbling on and had a bad resurgence of nastiness in the middle of last week that laid me low.

Thankfully it seems to have passed now so I took advantage of the good weather first thing this morning to go for my first proper off road run in may be 20 years. I used to love running when I was a young whipper snapper, but size 12/13 flat feet,  an operated on knee, knackered ankles and other things, not to mention suffering with ME/CFS for some time meant I thought I'd never manage to do any running again.

Not long before Christmas I tried to totally change how I run. I used to be what is known as a heel striker, and a heavy one at that in more ways than one. Current thinking is that this isn't good ergonomically, it wastes energy and shocks your legs and back un-necessarily and in my case aggravates a weird muscle condition I seem to have (exercise induced anterior compartment syndrome, which I also have in my forearms). Lots of running shoes have all sorts of fancy cushioning to deal with this along with different types of motion control to control and support the action of your feet. These fancy shoes haven't done anything to help my shin problems , but I found a study which suggested forefoot running is the non-surgical answer. It has been for me.

What has been a revelation and has lead to me being able to run 8km today with out any pain other than tired muscles has been mid foot/forefoot running. Rather than striding out, with a shortened stride and the foot landing under your hips you run more on you mid to forefoot. It has been fantastic. Using the couch to 5 k programme I started of running and walking all the while trying to control my gait to avoid heel striking and over striding. I never thought I'd get to running 5km with out walking with my health history, but now I've ran more than that numerous times; today's 8km off road being the longest. OK I'm no racing snake, but I'm out there and running which is a miracle as far as I'm concerned.

If you've been struggling with wanting to run, but been plagued with injuries I'd recommend both the Couch to 5 K programme and checking out YouTube videos on pose running, chi running or forefoot running,it's been a game changer for me. Due to having to watch my activity levels I'm not going too crazy, but 2 or 3 runs a week is a great boost to my health and confidence.

Anyway enough waffle. Here's a short video of my run today around Burwick and back to Scalloway while the sun lasted. Hope you enjoy the scenery...


In other news, I've made my first mayonnaise from our hens eggs...


And also some meringues to have with whipped cream, strawberries and raspberries, yum...






Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Sumburgh Head

I was down at Sumburgh Head and roundabouts today and spotted the Good Shepherd IV on her way back to Fair Isle from Grutness. I've been on it before on a nice calm day, this wasn't a particularly rough day, but I don't think I'd have enjoyed my trip so much today!



I didn't catch the worst of the pitching on video, but I'm sure this will be more than enough for most...


It was a bright sunny day, but with a biting wind and a dusting of snow on the hill tops.

Here's the view along The Slither's from Compass Head...


And up to Sumburgh Head Lighthouse from the new carpark...


The old Muckle Roe Lighthouse is a great feature in the carpark. It will become an information kiosk for visitors...


Though you won't get this view I managed to sneak...



The view from the nearly finished Sumburgh Head Lighthouse visitor centre should be great though...



If you visit take a walk along the coast too, you won't regret it...











Sunday, 9 February 2014

Woody Wood Pecker

There's been a great spotted woodpecker flitting around Scalloway for atleast the last year. I've seen it plenty and been desperate to take it's photo, but it's always been too dark, too wet or my camera hasn't been at hand. Finally I got him. He's a real beauty and seems to be doing well. Judging by the brief amount of time he stays when he comes he's flitting from feeding post to feeding post.

Anyway here he is. Taken through our less than clean windows...






And a short video of him feeding...


Big skies on Lunna Ness

On what must be the first decent day for months I took the chance to get out and check a walk over that I'm doing an article about in the near future.

The route takes you from Outrabister out and around the end of Lunna Ness and back via The Stanes O' Stofast...


It's about 11km as I walked it (according to my GPS) over ground ranging from well grazed banks and sheep tracks to rough hillside and bog. At the moment all the ground was pretty boggy actually!


Heading north-east from Outrabister...


It was a day of big skies...



Mill Loch...


Feor Wick...


Soon Lunna Holm at the end of the ness was in sight...




After a bite to eat it was time to turn back south-west and head up the spine of Lunna Ness towards The Ward of Outrabister (a dizzying 90m high).

Passing the Lochs of Ward and Winneries made a change from going up deep heather hills...


The view from the top are fantastic. Looking towards Noss and Bressay from The Ward of Outrabister...


And heading on towards the Stanes O' Stofast...



From the Stanes I returned across the moor to the car at Outrabister and had a chat with the owner of Outrabister Antiques (if he's there he's open) about the walks around about and numbers of visitors. After a cup of tea and with some survival ration cake in my pocket I picked up my rucksack and headed back across the moor to the Stanes to camp for the night. It was forecast to be a calm and dry night before rain and wind returned on Saturday morning so I wanted to try out my new tent ( Force 10 helium 200) in good weather and not far from the car.

The tent went up like a dream and had enough space for me and my gear along with enough space in the porch to cook. As usual though what is classed as a 2 man tent wouldn't be practical for 2.



Annoyingly I didn't stay the night in the end! I've had a dodgy stomach all week which had settled down enough for me to consider the camp, or so I'd thought. Later after several trips out across the moor to relieve my bowels I decided to pack up and go home to feel sorry for myself. Sound a sleep in bed at home I missed what must have been the best aurora showing of this winter! Ironically I'd wanted to camp at the Stanes thinking that the stars, or if I was lucky, aurora, would look ace behind them. Fair to say I am pretty gutted at the turn of events, but atleast I checked out the tent and enjoyed the setting for a while.

Here's a video of my walk and subsequent 'camp'. It's a little lengthy, but I hope it does the wonderful landscape some justice...