Shetland Islands 2011


Foolishly and with mounting trepidation, I agreed to attempt a two day ride from Bristol to Bingley at the end of April. It seemed like a good excuse to avoid the Royal Wedding! The Meek's 200 Miles cycle ride in support of two brain tumour charities would require some serious training on my part so I joined a gym, Kents Fitness and started my regime in ernest. This would be the prelude to my now annual cycling tour, so in full anticipation of enhanced fitness I made some travel plans.

The period since last year's tour proved how much the Shetland Islands had burrowed under my skin and there was no other destination to consider. With more islands to discover and ferry journeys to make, my mind was made up. An extra day was available this time, so the MV Hjaltland would transport me both ways, the cost of £282.40 included sole use outside cabins and the bike went free.

I arranged train travel using East Coast's website, eager to find a direct route after last year's fiasco. First class there and second back for £82.60. All appeared well until the confirmation arrived with no mention of the bike. Despite the website's claim that alternative services would be offered should no bike spaces exist, it seemed that the return train was fully booked for bikes and therefore no bike reservation had been made. A phone call sorted things out and they very kindly rebooked me onto a later service from Aberdeen at no extra charge - not the usual apparently. Bike tickets arrived in the post the next day.

Early poring over maps suggested that the Böds were not exactly in all the right places so a tent might be a good idea this time. Camping plus Böd visits where possible would allow flexibility when coping with relatively infrequent small island ferry times and provide slightly elevated levels of comfort - showers! In the end, only Skeld Böd was booked plus Hurdiback backpackers hostel on Papa Stour (sadly, now closed).

Day one