Shetland Islands 2010

Voe to Sumburgh - Friday 28th May

It seemed like a long lie in as the others got up and prepared to leave for their Viking longhouse building work on Unst. The volunteers said good bye as they left for the minibus. I had breakfast with Neil, packed up and left around 9.00 am. The weather was much improved with a lighter wind that was seemingly from the south east.

I felt ill, my cold had developed and was now affecting my chest. It took time for the old muscles to start working and rain was in the air. All in all, I thought it best to miss out the Nestings loop and head directly south on the A970. This was my first departure from plan and I wasn't happy about it, however given how the weather had turned the previous day, it seemed wise.

Good progress was made and I began to recognise some places I'd visited on the way up, Tingwall Airport was away to the right. A stiff climb took me up and over the ridge. I stopped to take pictures of Dales Voe and Muckle Ayre before rolling down to the Scalloway turning at Bridge of Fitch where I turned right to avoid Lerwick. The left turn onto the B9073 saw me briefly retrace my route of the first day, back to the 'Ward of Wick' junction with the A970.

Once south of Lerwick, the weather improved becoming sunny and warm whilst the landscape softened, appearing more lush and green. The route was far more enjoyable, terrific coastal scenery with islands offshore. I stopped several times to take in the views. The cyclist in black passed me going north and we exchanged a few words. North Bridge stores was the next stopping place for supplies and I ate some fruit outside in the sunshine.

The western loop on the B9122 towards Bigton looked more interesting on the map, so I turned off and cycled up and over to reveal spectacular Atlantic coastal scenery with Foula out on the horizon. I diverted again to have a look at the tombolo connecting St. Ninian's Isle, such a magnificent place.

photograph - St Ninian's tombolo

Further round, I caught sight of a beach down below which on closer inspection had a large group of seals sunbathing. It took me a while to realise that they were in fact seals and it made for an extraordinary scene. Further on I met another cyclist who lived in Bigton and we had a chat, he already knew about the seal beach.

Avoiding Gallow Hill, I crossed the A970 and followed the side road around Boddam. Then I toiled up the last long hill before Sumburgh Head came into view with the airport spread out below, I pulled into a bus shelter to take out my camera. I sped down past Toab and crossed the end of the main airport runway before turning left up to Betty Mouat's Böd.

This was probably the best Böd so far with a well equipped kitchen, a total of ten bunks in two rooms, large shower room and toilet along the corridor. It was very comfortable and cosy. The location was perfect with a clear view of the sea and a short walk to a sandy beach. The weather too was lovely.

The custodian's note said I'd be the only resident so I had the place to myself, I brewed up some tea and unpacked. I cycled back up to Toab for supplies and bought milk, bread, hot dogs and grape juice from John Goudie's convenience store. The shower head was fixed pointing outwards making it difficult to start the shower without spraying the room, so I re-attached it properly and had a long reinvigorating shower.

The electricity went off for a couple of hours, even though there was plenty of credit on the meter. I wandered around the Old Scatness archaeological site next door before watching the sun set from the beach. The hot dogs warmed in their tin on the stove whilst a hearty meal was prepared and devoured. With slight sadness at spending my last night on the islands, I climbed into the sleeping bag and fell sound asleep.

Day seven