Wednesday, 18 August 2010

And finally... Holiday 2010 - Part 8

And so to the final chapter of our Shetland trip.

The one particularly wet day of the holiday was spent in Lerwick, shopping for presents for family and friends, exploring the older part of town and visiting the splendid Shetland Museum.

The next day, our last full one on the isle, barely brings itself to the breakfast table. We stare out at low cloud on the hills, white wave crests in Swarbacks Minn and rain lashing against the windows. The forecast is for improved weather to follow, so we spend an hour at the B+B packing, the better to enjoy our last evening on Shetland.

We set off, mid morning, for West Mainland, an area we've so far ignored. It is still raining, but, in a way, that's quite good, as the first port of call on our itinerary is the waterfall on the Burn of Lunklet. The weather gods are definitely on our side today, for as we park beside the burn, the rain stops and the clouds begin to lift. Sure enough, there's plenty of peaty water cascading off the hills and the waterfall is a foaming torrent pouring, like a huge dark ale, over the rocks towards Aith Voe.

Our next stop is Da Gardains, a croft near Sand, that has been turned over completely to horticulture rather than agriculture. In a sheltered voe, behind an ayre and a salt marsh, thousands of trees and shrubs have been planted, creating a very different landscape to that of the rest of Shetland. A stream winds between a series of ponds all chock full of tadpoles, our lass discovers a newly-fledged family of Goldcrests and the sun beats down as warm as it has done all fortnight.

Moving on to the village and port of Walls, we pop into the cafe, above the local bakery, for lunch. I take up my customary position with my back to the room so that you-know-who can peoplewatch at her leisure. Before our soup can arrive, her skills are proven beyond doubt, when she spots a couple who we met on last year's holiday on North Ronaldsay in Orkney. Our lass saunters over for a chat, though the husband can't place her immediately. Then he sees me and exclaims, "The dragonfly man!" as the penny drops. The world's lowest key celeb, that's me.

Still chuckling over my sudden fame, we drive inland to Stanydale to view a complex of ancient structures. Neolithic farmhouses, field boundaries, burial mounds, standing stones and a large chieftain's hall are laid out on a plateau, all the more strange for being one of the few places in Shetland where you can't see the coast. This suggests an amount of deliberate siting, but the reasons are lost across the intervening 4000 years, we can only speculate and wonder at the motives of these folk from long ago.

Yours truly tells a joke so old, it's positively Neolithic
After all that merriment, we make our way to Vementry, to take in the view across Swarbacks Minn to the B+B. I make no apologies for almost repeating a photo from Part 1, this has been a magical holiday, in great part due to the hospitality shown to us by Elsie and Ivor Wood at Westayre.

We journey back north for our last evening of big skies and summer gloaming, stopping off at Mavis Grind, the narrow strip of land that divides the North Sea from the Atlantic Ocean between Mainland and North Roe. Then we drive over to Eshaness for a final look at the volcanic landscape and the setting of the sun on an enthralling visit to these most northerly of isles. Thank you to the residents of Shetland for their kindness and patience. Thank you, dear reader, for sharing in the memories. Good night.

1 comment:

John said...

Thanks Graeme! It's well written (despite some dreadful puns :), has lovely pictures and sums up Shetland very well.