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.
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 to Betty Mouats: 13 km
Betty Mouats to Sumburgh Head circular: 8.5 km
Total km's walked: 26.5 km