Shetland Islands 2010

Sumburgh to Lerwick - Saturday 29th May

I'd had an excellent night's sleep. There was 'free food' in the kitchen left by previous occupants so it was muesli for breakfast together with the last of my pancakes washed down with several cups of tea. I packed up and made ready to leave before deciding on a slight change of plan. I dropped the panniers and headed south to Sumburgh Head in order to reach the far south of Shetland and have a look at the lighthouse. The lighthouse high on its rock is now automatic and was home to an RSPB exhibition. The south end of Shetland is a wonderful place with loads of cute charming puffins and other birds all around. Fair Isle was away to the south on the horizon.

A RSPB volunteer was drumming up support but I declined his kind offer to become a member for £36 a year. I did though sign his petition to safeguard environmental spending in the face of cuts following our change of government. A joyous descent of the hill later and I was passing the airport back round to the Böd to collect the panniers. I remembered to put the rubbish in the car park bin before heading off north.

As I approached the end of the airport runway, the red lights started and the security guy closed the barrier to stop the traffic. There we waited for the Flybe twin prop plane to taxi down, turn round, then take off eastwards. Half way across the runway I stopped to take pictures both ways, not often you get to cycle on an airport runway. The wind direction was now a pre-occupation and it was still from the south.

I followed the A970 north and stopped a few times to take in the wonderful vistas offshore.

photograph - Coastguard

Most notably was near Sandwick where the Isle of Mousa and its Iron Age Broch could be seen clearly. Further north I diverted to follow the national cycling route through Mail, Aithsetter and Fladdabister. With a long enjoyable sweep past Easter Quarff then on to Brindister, soon I was back at the 'Ward of Wick' junction for a third time. A few climbs later, I reached the outskirts of Lerwick.

The sun was shining as I navigated my way to the harbour and left the bike in the car park for a while and mooched around the shops. I made it back to the ferry terminal at 3.30 pm and recovered my spare clothes bag from left luggage. I met Jen, one of the Viking volunteers in the terminal and she very kindly offered me some medication when it became apparent that I'd totally lost my voice. I spoke (whispered) to another touring cyclist who was waiting in the terminal. He was Dutch and had cycled from Lands End to John O'Groats, across Orkney and then the length of Shetland. It was a privilege to witness the end of his impressive journey, he asked me to take his picture.

Loading started at 5.00 pm and the Dutchman and I cycled round through vehicle check-in to wait in line on the dock. Neil arrived and so did the BTCV volunteer minibus. I had to dig out my hat for protection against the hot sunshine. Eventually on board, the MV Hjaitland left on time steaming out of a sunny Lerwick. I had the same meal of meat and vegetable pie in the restaurant and retired early, for a very comfortable night's sleep.

Last day