Great (and long) day out with Mohsin: Ben Nevis via the Mountain Track, CMD Arete and then down to Steall Falls. Well done, Mohsin!!
Had two great days out in snowy conditions on Ben Nevis and around the CIC Hut with Rudy and Amon from Aruba & the Netherlands. Superb effort guys, in ever-changing weather conditions - Well done!!
Another trip to Knoydart, this time with my partner. We take the first bus to Mallaig and from there with the Western Isles boat to Inverie. We arrive before noon and, after I put up the tent, we decide to go for a walk, as it is a very nice September day!
We walk along Loch an Dubh Lochain in the direction of Barrisdale. Shortly after the Loch my partner decides to walk back while I continue for a bit till I reach the saddle from where I can look to Barrisdale. At the ruins beside the Loch I catch up with my partner again. Together we walk to Inverie and get back just before it gets dark.
We buy a nice meal at the Knoydart Snack & Co van and go for a pint in the Old Forge after that. Around 10pm we see the lights from the Western Isles boat approach Inverie. It's Referendum Day and the boat is here to pick up the ballot papers.
It's a clear, cold night. The next day my partner takes the boat back to Mallaig, while I stay for another night in Inverie.
Interested in going to Knoydart? Check my website for a guided 3-day trip.
After a comfortable night in the böd we wake up to a grey Shetland, gone is the beautiful weather of 2 days ago. After breakfast we pack our stuff... and just miss the minibus that would have brought us to the road end. There's no other option than to start walking as there's no other buses leaving Skeld today.
We expect that more cars will leave Skeld (maybe on their way to work) than will come in, and hope to hitch a ride. Strangely enough, all the cars we encounter are heading into Skeld. But we enjoy the walk. When we walk along Garderhouse Voe we see an otter hunting in the water below us. We follow it for a while with the binoculars and while watching we hear an eerie sound which, as we found out back home, might have been a grey seal.
My partner is just packing away her binoculars when a car stops in front of us. A friendly lady offers us a lift. Although she says she isn't going all the way to the road end, when she drops us off we discover that we are actually very near, only a 2 min walk. Then we have a decision to make: are we going to Walls for a wee look around, or are we going straight to Voe where we stay tonight. A quick look at the bus time table solves the problem; because of the lift we got we are in time for the bus to Walls which is due to arrive in 5 min. And indeed, a few minutes later we see the bus appear from the mist, which is also rolling in.
Before we went to Shetland we had to decide if we were going to stay in the böd in Walls or the böd in Skeld. I wanted to stay in Walls, but my partner argued successfully for Skeld. To see what we might have missed we go there now, and also because there's apparently a nice tearoom run by the bakery in Walls! On the bus to Walls the fog is getting thicker, one of those 'read-about' foggy Shetland days, and it's pretty grey when we arrive in Walls.
We have a few hours to kill before we can take the bus back to Lerwick. Walls is a tiny place, but there is a small village shop. However, we can't seem to find the bakery tearoom. We find the bakery next to the village shop, but there is no sign of a tearoom and there's no further information. We think that it might not be open yet, and decide to go for a short walk along the water. When we return an hour later, the place is still shut. A couple arrives, obvious tourists as well and they are bolt enough to knock on the door of the bakery. They are then told that the cafe is no longer operating. Ok...the (online) guide books are not very up-to-date then. We have a nose around in the village shop and ask the lady who works there about the tearoom. She confirms it is shut, but points us to a community cafe in the Germatwatt Centre, which, as it is Wednesday, happens to be open. Lucky us!
We walk to the Germatwatt Centre and find the cafe open indeed. We are welcomed in by some friendly ladies, who also allow us to put our backpacks in a back room. We order hot chocolate and homemade sandwiches, which are very nice. When we walked in we had already seen some home baking for sale, so after the sandwiches we decide to try some of that as well. We have to support the local community after all! We stay in the cafe till it's time for the bus back.
Tonight we stay in a böd in Voe. There's no direct bus from Walls to Voe and we have to travel to Tingwall and there wait for the bus that comes from Lerwick to go to Voe. Luckily it all works out well. The fog has lifted a bit and while on the bus we can now actually see more of the landscape.
We got dropped of near Voe and walk to the village. The böd is quickly found at the marina and the keys collected. This böd is quite big compared to the other two, but again we have it for ourselves. Although Voe is small, they have a restaurant, the Pierhead. According to the guidebooks, this is a good restaurant, so that's where we are going to eat in the evening! After dinner we stay in the Pierhead for a drink and enjoy our last evening on Shetland.
After the long walk yesterday we had hoped to have a more relaxing day today. However, when we woke up in the morning and walked into the kitchen we found a swimming pool there. Water was coming through the ceiling and the kitchen floor was one big puddle. As it happens a pipe from the wate rtank in the böd's loft had burst and overnight the water had been pouring out of the tank. It took us a few hours to get the mess cleaned up and notify the relevant people and we were just in time to catch the bus to Lerwick. Turned out it was a good decision to watch the puffins last night, because we wouldn't have made it this morning!
Our destination today is Skeld, on West Mainland, supposedly an area with: "lovely beaches, hill and coastal walks, excellent bird-watching, seal-watching and otter-spotting. The coastline varies from dramatic cliffs to long, sea lochs, or 'voes', reaching far into a landscape of heathery hills and green crofts." We have booked 2 beds in Skeld Böd, which is situated above the marina in Skeld.
In Lerwick we only have limited time before the bus to West Mainland leaves, so I make a quick run to the supermarket to buy some supplies, while my partner stays at the bus station with the backpacks. When I return from the supermarket I find my partner in a grumpy mood: a Shetland seagull had decided that it didn't like her and had defecated on her when it flew past. Have to admit, it was a wee bit funny!
After I cleaned her up a little we jump on the bus with destination Walls. There is no direct bus connection to Skeld, so we have to get off the bus at the road end to Skeld and from there walk to the village. Although it is not as sunny as yesterday, it is still a nice, dry day. Good for walking! So, we start off on the 6.8 miles walk to Skeld. However, we feel yesterday's long day in our leggies, so with every passing car we put our thumb up for a lift. Not long after we start walking a car stops and a friendly lady gives us a ride. She actually lives along the road to Skeld, but is so friendly to drive us all the way to Skeld and drop us off at the marina. The böd is locked, so we leave our luggage and walk to the house where we can pick up the key. Skeld böd is definitely nicer than the one in Sumburgh; it is almost like a self-catering cottage and we are lucky to have it for ourselves this night.
Skeld is just a very small village, but what they do have is a cheese maker, Shetland Cheese Ltd. We are kind of curious so we walk over and have a wee nose around in the Skeld Creamery. There is a small cafe with loads of leaflets and local information, a convenience shop, and of course, the cheese counter. We talk to the owner and taste some of the cheeses. We can't resist buying some different cheeses to go with our bottle of wine for the evening.
In the late afternoon we start off on a walk south of Skeld. Therefore we first walk to the small village of Selwick from where we walk along the coast to Westerwick. There are some beautiful stack formations along the coast here! Back in Westerwick we are lucky to get a lift back to Skeld from the only other people that were walking in the area. This lovely couple was from England and were touring around in their small campervan. They happen to stay on the campsite near our böd, so we are again dropped off at the door.
Very unexpectedly we got the chance to visit the Shetland Isles. We decided to go in June, so we would hopefully be able to see Puffins.
On Sunday 15th June 2014 we left Fort William for the long trip to Aberdeen: first the bus to Inverness and from there another bus to Aberdeen. Total travel time: 5h 45m!
At 5pm the ferry leaves Aberdeen. On its way to Lerwick, the capital of Shetland, the ferry will first go to Orkney to pick people up in Kirkwall. It's a long journey, but luckily the weather is fine. Very lucky indeed because it is well known that the journey from Aberdeen to Lerwick can be a rough one!
The next morning we arrived in Lerwick at 7:30. When we leave the boat the first thing we look for is a place to get breakfast. I guess Lerwick is used to the early arrival of travellers because it doesn't prove too difficult to find a place to get breakfast. Our plan is to catch a bus that goes south to Bigton from where we will start our walk. Before we catch the bus we have some time to walk through Lerwick. It's a beautiful sunny day and along the seafront we encounter a group of seals basking in the sun on the rocks. They are not at all bothered by our presence. We do some shopping at the local supermarket and visit the Broch of Clickimin, before we catch the bus that heads southwards out of town.
At Bigton we walk over the tombola to St. Ninian's Isle. The tombola is a stretch of sand, with the sea at both sides, which connects the island with the mainland. While walking along the tombola we see a seal hunting for fish and when we reach the island we scare a ringed plover out of hiding. We walk around the small island. The cliffs are occupied by fulmars and down below in the sea we spot the first puffins, although they are so far away we can only just identify them as puffins. Great Skuas (named Bonxies on Shetland) soar over our heads, but luckily don't bother us. Somebody else is not so lucky: when we are at the far end of the island we hear shouting and see a man running and waving with his arms trying to scare a skua away that tries to dive bomb him.
This 5 km walk on St. Ninian's Isle is just the start of the day. Back on the mainland we head south for the walk to Sumburgh where our accommodation for the night is. Our walk leads us, not over roads, but along the cliffs, through sheep fields and over fences. We reach the beach at Bay of Scousburgh where we see seals sunbathing on the beach. When we approach they scuttle off into the water from where they keep an eye on us. When we leave the beach and look back we see that the seals have returned to their sunny spot on the beach. From the beach we climb up the banking and meet up with the road. We follow the road for a while -with down below us in the sea again loads of seals- till we reach Lunabister. There we ask a farmer for directions and continue our walk straight across through the fields and take a route in between Loch of Spiggie and Loch of Brow. On the other side we meet up with the road again and follow this through Ringasta, Hillwell and Quendale, site of the Quendale Water Mill. Just after Quendale we leave the road and drop down to the beach at the Bay of Quendale. No seals this time, but a group of eider ducks. At the end of the beach we take a path that leads us to the small places Hestingott and Toab. Then we follow the main road (A970) further south till we see Sumburgh Airport. Almost there!
We have booked beds in Betty Mouats camping böd. Camping Böds are like self-catering cottages, but with more beds and run like a hostel by the Shetland Amenity Trust. Betty Mouats lies just behind the Old Scatness Broch and as it turns out we will have the böd for ourselves that night!
After the long walk today we decide that we deserve a good meal. There are not many places to eat in this part of Shetland, so we walk to the Sumburgh Hotel for a meal. While we walk we suddenly fear that we might be too late and that the hotel will have stopped serving dinner. But luckily we are still on time.
We came to Sumburgh to see the puffins at Sumburgh Head and during dinner we wonder if we should walk there in the morning or, although we already had a long walk, do it today after dinner. As we are not sure about the weather the next day we decide to go and see the puffins this evening. So after dinner we walk to Sumburgh Head. Near Sumburgh Lighthouse we see our first puffin close by. The puffin is clearly used to people and it proves not too difficult to make several photos of the bird. Then we continue our walk around the lighthouse. We see some more puffins, but there aren't very many. By now it's starting to get dark and as we have a fair bit to walk we leave the puffins be and head back. Along the cliffs we walk back to Sumburgh, on the way almost stumbling over a hedgehog. Although it's getting darker, it doesn't become really dark and we are still able to see our surroundings. Just before midnight we arrive back at the böd.
What a beautiful, sunny first day on Shetland!
St Ninian's Isle circular: 5 km
St Ninian's to Betty Mouats: 13 km
Betty Mouats to Sumburgh Head circular: 8.5 km
Total km's walked: 26.5 km
Waverley is the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world. Every spring/summer it makes daytrips around Scotland. On the 28th of May we decided to board the Waverley for a trip from Mallaig to Inverie, Knoydart.
We took the train to Mallaig along the famous Road-to-the-Isles railwayline. Luckily, it turned out to be a nice day. Coming off the train we thought we had to hurry to catch the boat, but when we arrived in Mallaig the Waverley was nowhere to be seen. We overheard a lady talking and understood the boat was still on its way from Armadale. And sure enough, looking through our binoculairs we saw the Waverley approaching in the distance.
When the Waverley finally arrived in Mallaig it was a bit of a hassle to get the boat moored along the pier. Then first people had to come of the boat before others, including us, could go on. By the time the Waverley finally left Mallaig it was about 30min behind schedule. Regardless, the trip to Inverie was very nice. The weather was good and we had beautiful views over to Eigg, Rum and the Cuillin on Skye and Knoydart. Unfortunately, no wildlife to be seen on the way.
On arrival in Inverie we had about 45min on shore. Most people went straight to the Old Forge pub for something to drink. We, however, decided to go for a short walk. We followed the tarmac road in the direction of the bunkhouse and then at some point turned right onto a nature trail that led us back to Inverie.
The Waverley paddled us back to Mallaig where we were just back in time to catch the train to Fort William.
It was just a short daytrip, but a very enjoyable one. Knoydart is beautiful!
Explore Knoydart by joining us on a 3-day trip! For information go to the Knoydart page on the website.