Our journey North was special. At Brechin we took the Cairn O' Mount Road to Strachan and Banchory. The view from the Cairn O, Mount is spectacular. Away to the East you can just see the North Sea. South lies the Howe O' the Mearns in all its glory. Miles and miles of beautiful agricultural land spread out before us like a well illustrated geographic map.
Once in Aberdeen we visited Hazelhead Park and after a refreshing rest from travelling boarded out Northlink boat to Lerwick. Most of us did not have a particularly good sleep on the way over. Strangely on the return journey most of us were well rested on landing at Aberdeen at seven in the morning.
Picture above: Boats at Museum, Lerwick.
Shetland is an archipelago of surprises. Expecting it to be much the same as the Orkney Islands we soon realised that this place is different altogether. After we explored the delights Lerwick and Scalloway we settled into our beautiful hostel, Isleburgh House, in Lerwick which was our base for the duration of our expedition.
Sullamvoe with traditional peat cutting on the adjacent croft.
Travelling as far North as we could on the mainland we visited Yell and Unst and drank in the landscapes. Later in the week we visited Bressey and Noss which are close to Lerwick and should not be missed. The ferry from Bressy to Noss is a small dingy which takes five passengers at a time. Definitely one of the highlights of our holiday.
We explored the mainland, as the main island on the Shetlands is called, late in the week. Sumburgh Head is home to Puffins and we were transfixed taking pictures of the over the wall which protects us from falling over the Head and the puffins from even closer encounters with human beings. Behind us clattered helicopter after helicopter going and coming from the oil rigs out on the North Sea. Above Viking skittles.
Crofthouse Museum with the Watermill in the distance right of the croft house.
We also visited Quendale Mill and Crofthouse Museum. The folk who welcomed us to the attractions were warm and giving of their time and knowledge. When at the Croft House we visited a basic water mill on the croft which most interesting. Such a simple water paddle was all that was required to help the crofters to be self sufficient and not dependant on bigger water wheel mills like Quendale.
We had fun on and around the tombolo joining the Mainland with St Ninians Isle. The sea was warm and inviting. I disturbed a beautiful flat fish as I paddled along the sand bar. It was sandy coloured and was hard to see until it moved. I believe that these fish can change colour to match their background as a form of camouflage. It works!
Traditional peat cutting near Eshaness.
All good things come to an end. My lasting memories are the Puffins, Noss, Eshaness even when partially fog bound and the folk we met. The local dialect was warm and interesting. I am looking forward to returning in 2014 with more explorers and hope that we enjoy this visit as much as the first one.