It was a most beautiful dawn next day and it felt mild nestled in amongst the cliffs by the harbour, though when I got up onto the tops there was quite thick ice on the pools which studded the moorland. It wasn’t the best of ideas starting off early as I got entangled with the school and work traffic, but this being Shetland there really wasn't enough to get worried about.
I thought to go to Walls (pronounced Waas, which on the Herefordshire borders mean a swampy lake which only appears in wet weather – wonder if it has a similar meaning here?) My intention was to park up and sit a while by the harbour and perhaps enquire about a sailing to Foula, but the ferry wasn't marked as such , and the road called Pier Road looked so narrow that knowing work had recently been carried out at this particular ferry port I assumed it had been superseded, which it hadn't, and as a result I soon found myself on the wrong road and out of the town but as it was a very pretty road I just carried on. The day which had dawned beautifully continued in the same vein and I pulled off to see a viewing spot, it was bit hairy turning Thebus in a sheep feeding forecourt but we were rewarded with a wonderful view across the waters and over to Foula. The day was still hazy so the distant islands didn’t show on the photos as clearly as they might but it was a wonderful spot for a coffee and biscuit. We surprised a local farmer's wife parked up where we were, but as usual got a cheery wave.
There were signs for a 'place of interest' and though I guessed it was probably still shut at this time of year I thought we might as well go down to Burrastow House Mind you the brown signs can be a bit misleading here in Shetland - I am sure I saw one for a Waste Oil Recycling Point – though it was in the middle of the moors miles from anywhere, so I suppose I should really have gone to have a look
Burrastow House turned out to be a hotel, and the entrance looked a bit tight for getting into and turning but just before was quite a good spot for a bit of Thebus manoeuvring and I was just swinging him round when a gentleman with a dog came over from a farm. He said. - I know all about you! You were in a ditch over by Lunna Kirk
It turned out that the lovely farmer and his son who had pulled me out and said they were on their way over to Westside were headed for this very spot where they rented the grazing from him and had apologized for being late as they had been delayed by having to pull Thebus out of the ditch. He was the 'Laird' of the area, having inherited from his uncle many years ago, and now lived in a most beautiful spot overlooking an island, which had also been part of the estate but sold a few years ago – he said it took him thirteen years to sell it, I hope my house sale goes through a bit quicker.
He had read a bit of the journal, so knew all about us and kindly asked me in for a cup of tea and piece of delicious cake. His wife wasn’t in and the cake looked so beautifully made that I worried that it was perhaps destined for some bring and buy event, or raffle prize, but he seemed unconcerned and cut us each a large slice.
I told him that I was once again lost, my sense of geography not being helped by the fact I was still coping with my torn out atlas map of Shetland which extended to about seven inches in total, supplemented by the tourist leaflets kindly given me at Lerwick Museum, which seemed a bit on the vague side when it came to roads, plus there were so many symbols of otters and lighthouses and viewpoints it was hard to see the roads anyway. He very kindly gave me a larger scale map and suggested that the Jaimeson's Mills were not to be missed, so, thoroughly refreshed, we set off again.
He took a lovely photo of Thebus and Phoebe and promised me one for the journal. I am not keen on photos of me, as I explained the journal is the world as seen through my eyes and I don't have to look at me – good job too! I should have taken a photo of him with Phoebe and Thebus and am kicking myself for being slow. Oh well an opportunity missed.
With our new map we found the mill easily, though the shop was shut and although all the machinery was working I couldn't see anyone, and didn’t like to walk around, knowing how upset everyone gets nowadays about people entering the workplace. So leaving a note I went and sat in Thebus thinking that someone would see us at some point. After a while the postlady turned up – I had passed her not far from Burrastow House and we had exchanged waves when I was photographing what I assume were some fishing bods. She just said to just go upstairs as she could here them working, so off I went, and found a lovely lady who told me to just wander round where I wanted and feel free to ask any of the workers there what they were doing, and if I went through the knitting room a door led to the shop and I could have look round.
Once again, how refreshingly relaxed and sensible the folk up here are. I had forgotten how the world used to be. It was so much nicer. England seems to have really lost the plot at present – it will be interesting to see how people in other countries behave, I hope they are all as nice as they are here.
I had a good mooch about and saw how the wool is brought in straight off the sheep's backs, washed in ginormous (yes, that is a word, and listed in the Oxford Dictionary) washing machines, sorted, combed, spun, and woven or knitted into beautiful tweeds and garments. And as I had been wanting a good blanket to hang over Thebus door, being made of metal it can be quite cold on a winter night, I bought a lovely warm blanket/throw in natural Shetland sheep colours, undyed and woven in beautiful muted browns tans and creams. It is hanging over the door as I type, helping to keep the draughts and cold from the door, and as we are parked next to a lighthouse tonight it is pretty cold and draughty outside.
A nice mooch round the coast in the area led us to Huxter, where parked up looking out over the sea I cooked myself a late brunch, and then we drifted on down through the sunshine back to the ferry for Foula, as I had some idea of travelling over there and wanted to check out that the ferry boat could accommodate us and the ramp was not too steep for Wretched Rack
We negotiated the rather narrow Pier Road with its car parking on both sides, and got to the terminal which was in the process of being enlarged and the ferry carparking redone. They had just got to the bit where they were chalking out the new tarmac ready for the white lining, so dodging round the kneeling workmen I leaned out to ask about places to park Thebus without damaging their handiwork to enquire for a possible journey to Foula. This caused much hilarity as when I asked if Thebus would get on they said the ferry would get on Thebus.
The ferry boat was in and just ready to leave as I parked so I missed taking a photo, but they were not far wrong, this is definitely a passenger only ferry and the last passenger and his dog jumped aboard as I was approaching. Fun if you are a walker though I would think. Still we, or at least I, enjoy what we are able to do.
On then towards Skeld Marina which had been recommended by my Marina as a good place to stopover.
West Burrafirth Harbour Early Morning
Phoebe having a mooch on the pier at West Burrafirth
She is always very careful to keep away from the edge
Stunning View with the isle of Foula just visible in the distance through the sea haze
And yes, when the sun shines the sky really is that blue and so is the sea
These little ruined stone building were just at the head of a 'voe' which is Nord for sea inlet.
I assume they were fishing 'Bods' pronounced bode as in abode, and meaning the same ie living place.
Fishing Bods were used by the fishermen during the main fishing seasons.
The fish having being salted dried on the beaches and would then have been traded, but mostly not by the actual fishernen,
who seem to have been part of an almost feudal system which meant they had a lot of work and danger for very little reward
Westside View \Moorland View