Sunday, August 14th, 2005 - Lerwick, Shetland

A busy travel day, again. Chris and I were determined to see as much more of the island as we could before I caught my plane returning to Edinburgh at 3 pm. We headed out quite early to stop at “Clickimin Broch” before leaving Lerwick on our trip south to the airport. A “broch” is an ancient house made of a large circular ring of rocks with a middle courtyard and rooms in the surrounding walls. There are quite a few of them around and they do stand out quite dramatically on the Spartan landscape. We walked along the path through a field with a friendly horse and ducked into the structure itself. Very impressive but it had to have been very cold…

Clickimin Broch, Lerwick

It seemed a bit sad to be making our way to the airport but, of course, the day was not over. Making a detour to the west side of the island once again we came to a small village. Turning at an unmarked gate we continued along a small road to a car park along the top of a hill overlooking the ocean and a wonderful bit of landscape: St. Ninian's Isle.

St. Ninian's Isle (from the mainland)

The island is connected to the mainland via a small spit of sand (so, therefore, the spit has beaches on either side – not that you would want to swim here). Slowly walking along the beach we made our way up onto the top of the island and along the edge of it's cliffs to the far end passing through numerous small fields and avoiding the somewhat territorial birds (I am told they will attack you if you get too close to their areas). Leaping over a few small fences we eventually came to the head of the island, the highest point. Looking out over the ocean back to the coast of the mainland we could see Hillswick where we had eaten the night previously. The wind swept across us but the silence otherwise was only broken by the sound of the sea far below. We sat on the edge of the rocks looking down hundreds of feet to see the waves crashing. The birds were gracefully swooping all around often coming within feet of us in their travels. Fantastic.

St. Ninian's Isle (West Side)

Returning back across the fields on the top of the island we crossed back to the mainland and reluctantly continued once again in the direction of the airport on the furthest southern part of the island.

The weather is just fantastic with sun and only a few clouds after the previous few days of cloud-cover essentially total.

We were still early for the plane (only need to be about an hour early since the airport is so small – though they are expanding it with construction all around the area) so we headed just pass it to Sumburgh Head. This is a large headway of rocky cliff atop which is a lighthouse. The cliffs are known for their nesting colonies of sea-birds including puffins! We were quite anxious to see some (well, I was, Chris has probably seen them a few times already) so we anxiously scanned the cliffs only to be disappointed. Climbing up the steep road we made our way to the lighthouse. It is a series of old concrete buildings with no permanent staff living there (all lighthouses in the UK are now unmanned) but you can rent the buildings for accommodation…Peering over the far edge and looking straight down we could see some rather large seals basking in the ocean (they must have been large to see them at that size from this height).

Continuing around the headland we were surprised to see the small incompetently flying figures in the air that are the sure identifiers of puffins! The reason we were surprised to see them is that the season is pretty much over and that after this they head out to sea for the winter (though why they do this I don't really know). We were able to see a few puffins nesting on the cliff edge on this far side (away from the tourists, perhaps that is why…) but many more in the air. They do not really look as if they can fly with their stubby, skinny wings. They lurch about in the air as if they have no idea what they are doing but they do manage to come into land wherever they wish…

Near Sumburgh Head (Puffin Country)

This was the final outing before Chris and I parked at the small airport. A quick drink then Chris was off. I have really enjoyed my time here – Something I will always remember. I can't think the time would have been so special without Chris showing me around and my having the pleasure of her company. I do miss the times we talked when living in Africa and now she is so much further away. I only hope she takes me up on my offer to show her around Cambridge!

Sumburgh Airport

Flying into Edinburgh I was able to get a B & B through an agency right in the terminal building ( I was able to get a VERY good price on a place just a few minutes walk from the train station (Royal Terrace) on so the next day I would not have far to go to catch my return train to Cambridge.

The bus ride back to the city was not terribly exciting though I did continue to wonder at the number of tourists about…After arriving outside of the train station I headed off to my B & B. The wheels on the bottom of my luggage had pretty much had enough of my running around dragging them behind me all the time so decided at this time to shed their rubber making the trip that much more…enjoyable. Anyway. Arrived at the B & B which is a lovely old Victorian house with high ceilings. Ok, a bit of paint pealing on the walls here and there but my room in the basement was fantastic! A single and double bed to myself along with television and a brand new shower/toilet area. Very nice. I will have to come back here…

Being, as I was, in Edinburgh once again I could not let the evening go to waste (!) so I headed out once again to get to more Fringe shows. Tomorrow (Monday) other festivals start which is a bit of a shame (for me) but for tonight I have hundreds of shows to pick from anyway. I headed up to the Fringe box office on the Royal Mile where I was able to pick up tickets to two shows I have wanted to see since I got here (the one was too late at night for me to go to when I was staying with Jillian)…

Fringe Festival Events Attended

Time Description Comment
20:30 NewsRevue 24/7 (C Electric, Screen 2) A great set of skits on news topics from the past six months (beginning with a rather irreverent look at the new pope seemingly having had more than a passive role in the death of the previous one…). A lot of the skits are set to music and the pace is truly manic. A lot of great fun.
22:00 The Ennio Morricone Experience (Assembly at the Queen's Hall) A rather strange musical experience. Morricone was the composer/conductor for many of the classic spaghetti westerns: “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”, “Once Upon a Time in America”, “A Fistfull of Dollars”, etc, etc. This concert was performed by a number of very talented musicians attempting to recreate the spirit of the music and the movies they were used in complete with odd musical instruments (tin cans, books, etc). The musicians are very good which is why this concert caught my eye (but due to the lateness I was unable to attend when I was staying in Glasgow due to the train schedules). Not many people in the audience but those there truly enjoyed the magnificent performance.

Dinner was yet another of those rather odd Deep-Fried Haggis and Chips things. Unusual. I sat cross-legged on my bed with this feast before me and the television showing a movie. My last night.

⇒ Continue to Monday, August 15th, 2005 - Edinburgh