Monday 1st August, 2011
I was up before 8am for a shower and to get packed up. I left my tent till last and was able to pack it completely dry. Even the underneath was dry. The ferry was at 9.30am. I was really quite sad to be leaving Skerries. I’d had such a lovely weekend and the community seems so friendly and vibrant.
The weather wasn’t quite as nice today and although the water in the harbour was calm, as soon as we cleared it the ferry was rocked all over the place. I wasn’t worried about myself, but I was really nervous about my car. As I’m expecting bits to drop off it anyway, this probably wasn’t particularly good for it. I sat in Jill’s campervan watching it through the back window. Even Mutley was very subdued. He only started to liven up when we got into calmer waters close to Mainland.
We drove round to the other small harbour in Vidlin and found the Spirit Dancer canoeists. The weather had really changed and was quite cold and raining a bit. The canoeists thought that maybe no-one would turn up and they wouldn’t go out. Jill and I parted company at this point. She was going to Lerwick to find out about ferries back to Orkney and I was going for a walk round Lunna Ness and then heading west ready to go to Foula tomorrow.
I drove down to the end of the road at Outrabister where there is a small parking bay. Jill had told me about an interesting second hand shop in the last house on the peninsula. It’s in an old byre and still has the drainage hollows running along the floor. It was packed with stuff, but seemed a bit junky so I didn’t buy anything. The guy was really friendly and chatty. He had a huge house, but can’t make any money from the shop. There was a big modern barn outside and lots of sheep so he must do farming as well and the shop is a kind of hobby. I didn’t get chance to ask him though as he was waiting for a phone call and when it came he had to go and meet someone on the road with some ‘messages’. The phone call came as I was talking to him and curtailed the conversation. Before he went he pointed out a hill with a bit of a track that I could get good views from.
I sat in my car and had lunch and then got my boots and wet weather gear on and headed back down the road walking, to where I spotted a sign post to the the Stanes of Stofast. It was a boggy, soggy moorland walk to get to them and took over an hour. It shouldn’t have taken that long, but for the zigzagging and backtracking I had to do. The rocks were quite impressive; huge boulders displaced by glacial movement. Originally they were a single 2,000 tonne boulder that drifted from Norway on the ice and was later split into two by frost. There were great views from up there as well.
I then walked closer to the coast and then back inland to get to the trig point at the highest point on the peninsula. I walked a bit further towards the end of the peninsula before circling back and making for the hill that the man in the shop had pointed out. Then it was back down the track to his yard and back to my car. Apart from a few odd bits of blowy drizzle, the rain stayed off and I had a nice ‘fresh’ walk.
Other points of interests in this part of Shetland include Lunna House – formerly a farm estate house, but now better known as the base for the Shetland Bus. The Shetland Bus was the code name for the boats which plied the sea between Shetland and Norway to aid Allied efforts in the Second World War. Small fishing boats smuggled saboteurs, radios, explosives and ammunition into Nazi-occupied Norway and brought compromised agents back to Shetland.
The church is also quite interesting as it has a hole in the wall that was thought to have a been a ‘leper’s hole’ – anyone with leprosy could stand outside by the hole to hear the service without risking the health of the rest of the congregation. Historians these days think the hole was more likely to have been part of the heating system.