Shetland Islands 2013

Lerwick to Whiteness - Sunday, 16th June

The boat steamed through heavy mist sounding its fog horn as we navigated the south Shetland coastline towards Bressay Sound. I had continental breakfast in the restaurant, cereal, muesli, cappuccino, yoghurt, croissant and toast, 'All You Can Eat' for £6.95, another Serco innovation. Back in the cabin, I changed into cycling gear and put my normal clothes in the spare bag ready for the return journey. The ferry manoeuvred into place on its ramp.

Drivers were called at 7:30 am but somehow I ended up on the lower car deck by mistake, I didn't even know that there was a lower car deck. Anyway, I made my way back up to reception and the officer kindly pointed me in the right direction, I had the distinct feeling that I wasn't the first person to make this error! The main car deck wasn't full and I joined the small group of cyclists and motor cyclists waiting at the back for the cars and camper vans to move off.

I deposited my spare clothes bag in the terminal left luggage room and rode off towards Lerwick in brilliant sunshine. I didn't have much cash so decided to go in search of a bank with an ATM. Lerwick town centre was eerily quiet on this bright Sunday morning and I soon found the Clydesdale Bank on Commercial Street.

I rolled through the Market Place then followed the main road out of town in slightly the wrong direction, south onto the Knab. There were lovely views down Bressay Sound to where the tanker 'Loch Rannoch' was anchored. Turning around, I navigated back to the A969 and rejoined the A970 towards Sumburgh.

Passing Tesco, the gradient increased up a fair pull. On reaching the top came the exhilaration of the downhill run to the junction near Gilberwick for the B9073 right turn towards Scalloway. Another reasonable hill took me up whilst turning north and west towards the A970 T junction, where I marvelled at the nice new road sign.

Turning south on A970, I stopped to take pictures as the vista opened up with Scalloway and its Castle in the bay below. The floating accommodation barge "Bibby Challenge" was tied up in the harbour and rather dominated the scene. This so called coastel offers 280 en-suite bedrooms, kitchen, restaurant, bar, gym, laundry and games rooms - a sign of Shetland's expanding oil economy.

Down the other side, I turned right rather faster than was comfortable onto the B9074 and stopped to take pictures of the fire station.

The road led north through the 'Field of Tingwall' past the Loch of Tingwall, where I stopped in the sunshine to take more pictures. At this point I began to relax, settle into a rhythm and enjoy the holiday feeling.

I turned off left at Veensgarth and stopped at Tingwall Airport for a mooch. A woman turned up in a hire car and found the terminal door locked. She was in search of bottled water but it being Sunday was causing a problem.

I carried on up the climb to the summit where a lay-by afforded wonderful long range views over Whiteness and Weisdale. You could see the long arm of Whiteness where I planned to camp, stretching out into the sea. Down below was the Nesbister Böd in its wonderful shoreline location at the end of a little promontory.

The long sweep down the other side made my eyes water, past the Westings Inn. I decided to take a closer look at the Böd so slowed for the Nesbister turn. I dropped down to shore level and left the bike at the end of the road for the short walk to the Böd. There were two guys resident although my eyes didn't adjust quickly enough to the darkness inside and the conversation was brief. I knew that the accommodation was very basic however its location is first class.

I climbed back up to the main road and coasted down to the Whiteness turning. Just beyond was the shop so I went to have a look. J & K Anderson was open from noon til 5.00 pm on Sundays so supplies would be available later.

The road followed the spine of Whiteness with some small climbs and descents and fabulous views. The houses seemed more recent towards the end and some new builds were nearing completion. A nice lady at the final house gave some advice regarding camping spots and directed me via a non-opening gate where the wall made an 'L' shape. I temporarily de-bagged to lift everything over the gate before pushing the bike over rougher ground down to the Ness. I decided on a flat grassy platform on the more sheltered eastern side above a small sandy beach.

I noticed that the tent was on top of an extensive rabbit burrow however there was no evidence of occupation. In fact there was very little sign of current rabbit activity anywhere.

After lunch of BBQ beef, fried rice and a brew I decided to cycle back to the shop for something slightly more exciting than my basic supplies, which turned out to be water, flapjack and cakes. Later, I made several photo expeditions around the Ness and was rewarded with many gorgeous views, flora and fauna.

Just marvellous. I made an evening meal and watched the light fade in my peaceful tranquil corner of outstanding natural beauty, whilst listening to Radio 4.

Day three