View from the drivers seat
A970 - North to Isbister in North Mavine
Aeroplane at croft up towards Isbister ,
and below zoomed in photo
I took a photo and decided that if I saw anyone around I would ask them about it. So then back towards the village and a beautiful beach beckoned, but after the abrupt stop at the last place I worried that if we got down there we may not get back out, so I pulled up by a pretty little whitwashed kirk and checked to see if I could get any internet for some reasearch. Not a hope, and neither of the phones worked either. Being a Sunday I didnt want to be in anyone's way should there be a service in the offing so we moved on, though the weather was looking a bit brighter.
Passing the Community Hall at North Voe I saw a car parked up outside, and thinking that either the car had been abandoned after a good night the evening before, or there may be someone inside to ask about the plane I pulled in. As an aside I have noticed that there are lots of vehicles left in odd places all around, and I think a fair bit of car sharing goes on. The bus driver I met earlier said he left his car when he came on shift and always left the keys in the ignition then if someone needed to move it they could, or if they were stuck they could use it. What a nice way to live.
But back to North Voe Community Hall. The carpark was very large so there were no worries about pulling in, and as I did I saw there were lots of points for electric hookup so this was obviously a stopover for caravans and motorhomes as well. The door to the hall was open and going in I gave a good shout to see if anyone was around and a lovely young lady and her pretty little girl appeared from the kitchen area. They were tidying up after the Curry Night, which had been run on the evening before. Had I known I could have driven there, parked up for the night and had a curry as well! I think for anyone touring Shetland a copy of the Shetland Times is a must, and having bought a copy it needs to be thoroughly and carefully read in conjunction with a good map and some internet googling if possible. This all in hindsight of course, but perhaps it will stand me in good stead for the future.
I enquired about staying overnight which would have been fine, but there was no internet or phone connections. If I was more active and could set off for a good long hike, then things like that would not be important to me, but it can make for a long evening, especially as I still have not worked out how to use the TV properly, though there is very little I enjoy watching. I may see about getting myself set up with something to read on the ipad, but of course I need an internet connection to get that done.
I also asked about the plane, and apparently it had crashed by Sumburgh a while ago, and the chap at the croft had said he would have it. And that seemed to be the full story, so if anyone knows anything more interesting about it do let me know. Next time I get some good internet I will add an email contact form to the journal.
A970 North Mavine travelling south again -
I just stopped in the middle of this stretch and took these photos of the bay beside this little kirk with its own little jetty
You can imagine in centuries gone by the priest or congretation arriving by boat for the Sunday services
I was back now on part of the road I had travelled after my visit to Ollaberry school, and remembered passing the phone box - is this the lonliest phone box in the world I wonder? If not it is certainly a contender - bet you can't even spot it!
Lonliest Phone Box
and below a close up -even now it's a long way off
I only took the photos above as I would have felt guilty had I not, but there are
so many wonderful views round every twist and turn of the road it is hard not to become blase
As we got back towards the road for Eshaness the weather wasn't that much better than the first time I visited, so there seemed little point going back and I thought we would maybe head over to the ferry for Papa Stour with a view to taking a trip over. I was needing petrol and its surprising where the day goes as one is mooching about, so I started worrying they may be close to closing, but there was no chance of internet to do any research. Aith looked quite large, so there might be a petrol station there. As I approached I could see a community store, and hoping it might be open pulled up. Sadly no, but some boys were playing football in the school playground so walked over to ask them. The youngsters on Sheltand are all refreshingly polite and helpful - its a pleasure to talk to them. They liked the look of Thebus and said there was a petrol station two or three miles away and gave me direcitons.
Arriving at Bixter I could see a largish sevice-type garage at the junction, but no petrol pumps, and as the entrance was on a bit of a slope (I had already caught Wretched Rack on the tarmac when I turned round in the school pull in back in Aith) so was hesitant about taking chances if there wasn’t even petrol there. As I sat on the edge of the road wavering I spotted two solitary pumps on down the main road on the grass verge opposite. I am still not used to Thebus and keep forgetting the filler is on the opposite side to the Volvos I have driven for the last thirty odd years, and looking at the pull in decided I would never manage it, and with two pumps in apparently the middle of nowhere how would I pay. Plus was there any fuel for sale? A couple of days earlier I was re-passing a store I had noted on my first journey north as a potential refuelling spot with two pumps outside. I had carefully eased Thebus in, only to realise I had yet again got him on the wrong side of them. I knew I would be only going a short distance further before needing to turn round and come back so popped in to the shop to explain I would be back shortly but would park up on the correct side, rather than making the effort now. Oh – dont bother! – she said, we haven't had petrol in those pumps for the last thirty years or more.
So just in case these pumps were in similar circumstance I decided to check out where one needed to pay, and whether there would be anything to pay for. The shop over the road was open so I went across. Yes- the pumps were theirs and they had petrol. Just fill up with what I needed and let them know how much I owed. They had some of my favourite Baltisound bread on the shelves and a few other items I needed so I paid for the shopping and some petrol in advance to save me walking back over the road. Asking if there was anywhere to stay they suggested various B&B not having seen Thebus through the grocery filled windows. But when the owner kindly carried the groceries out to Thebus for me and asked where I was headed he said his brother ran the Papa Stour ferry and there would be plenty of space for me to stop there. Looking at their forecourt I just knew that Wretched Rack would catch again, so decided to try pulling over and reversing up, but without a kerb mirror it's really tricky. He saw me getting into trouble with a little plastic bollard that I just couldn’t see and came to help me out, and also filled Thebus for me. More Shetland kindness.
The drive over to the ferry terminal for Papa Stour was just stunning. I didn’t take many photos as the day was still grey and the evening was by now drawing on, and even though in the end I didn't sail over to Papa Stour I am so pleased I drove over Aithsting Moors to West Burrafirth . Shetland may not be that large, but it has a surprisingly varied and beautiful terrain.
The high part is mainly moorland with many small lochs and pools in the peat and heather, I saw a couple of Artic Hares, one quite near too, but as we are now well into spring, he was moulting and was showing half his summer colours mixed in with his snowy white winter coat, and I think a Merlin, but it was too fast to be sure.
Burrafirth Harbour is a charming spot nestled down in amongst the rocks and I was happy to spend the night there, plus there was some internet though absolutely no phone signal. Apparently if I went back up the hill there was phone signal available at the church, which I had noticed on the way down as a low whitewashed building with a life belt on the wall, and would have liked to stop and investigate, but there was just not enough room to get Thebus off the road, and out of everyone's way.
Arriving at the harbour a boat was already waiting and with a car loaded, but as the car was roped down I somehow thought it was not the ferry. It wouldn’t have made any difference though, as that particular ferry needs to be pre booked and without the internet I hadn't had an opportunity to research. In the event it was a good job it wasn't like the other ferries. If I had been able to board and just driven on the ferry I would have been in for a surprise three day stop-over - there wasn’t another ferry back till Wednesday, and as there are only twenty inhabitants on the island I doubt there is a shop or petrol.
This particular terminal had excellent internet so I googled and thought about taking the early ferry out on the Wed morning and then the last one back on the same day, and when the boat arrived back I popped over to have a chat. But the ramp looked far too steep for Wretched Rack to cope with, and the ferry man said it all depended on the state of the tides. In the end the idea of maybe going over on a high tide, which would have been ok, then not being able to get back on the boat for the return journey seemed not worth risking, and having stayed overnight at this lovely spot I moved on to explore down the west coast, once again very beautiful.
I feel embarrassed about keep harping on about how beautiful Shetland is, but visit for yourself and if you have any real soul you will certainly feel as I do.
ISBISTER TO PAPA STOUR FERRY
I had thought to stay over on the Saturday night, though probably not go to the Hop, but when the music started at around 7ish I had forgotten how loud the young people like it nowadays. In a couple of minutes I had packed everything up, closed the two slides, retracted the jacks and quite literally headed for the hills
I made a quick exit as I needed to get through the carpark before everyone arrived for the evening, which they were doing very quickly. Without even thinking I turned left so I could get out without crossing the traffic, and realised I was heading back to the area I had spent the earlier part of the week in. No matter, if the weather was sunny I would go back to Eshaness Lighthouse and take in the scenery in some good clear light
The road was, for Shetland, quite a fast one, as the traffic could flow in two directions at once, quite a novelty for me at present, and I drove on keeping an eye out for a layby that would give me a little distance from the traffic, not that there was much traffic, but its still nicer to be a few yards away from the road. I spotted a reasonable place within a few miles of Brae and pulled in, put down the jacks and took Phoebe to investigate. She isn't keen on parking in laybys but we had a look round nevertheless. I keep her on a lead in such situations, as she does like to head for the middle of the carriageway whenever possible.
It was lovely and quiet after about nine, and though there were probably a few vehicles returning from the Up Helly Aa later they certainly didnt disturb me. I left the front blinds drawn back as we were facing north, and it being so totally dark I thought we might stand a chance of some Northern Light action, though I am beginning to feel I might have missed out. Perhaps it will be a good excuse to return to beautiful Shetland
Next morning when it was light I could see we were just opposite a lovely little loch with the early morning mists rising from it, and a few curlews singing, but apart form that it was not the most glorious of mornings. I had checked on my little map from the tourist info centre at the Lerwick Museum and could see we had not yet visited the most northen part of North Mavine, so thought we would take a look at Isbister and turned up the A970 – well surfaced and nicely marked though smaller than most folk from further south in the UK would expect from and A-road
It came to an abrupt end and unannouced end in a farm yard, but at least there was space to turn Thebus round. And we headed back along the route we had come. Being quite early on a Sunday morning I didn't mind just stopping in the middle of the road to get my bearings as to where to go next, and looking round I suddenly saw an aeroplane, not as you might think flying through the sky, but parked up next to a croft up a farm track.
Evening View from Thebus Window at Papa Stour Ferry Terminal
Someone sent me a link to an article about the crashed plane