Shetland And Orkney, June And July 2010

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22-27th June - Berwick, Mainland Shetland And Kayaking
22-27th June - Berwick, Mainland Shetland And Kayaking
28th June - Foula
28th June - Foula
29-30th June - Foula And Mousa
29-30th June - Foula And Mousa
1-2nd July - Yell And Unst
1-2nd July - Yell And Unst
3-5th July - Unst, Yell, Muckle Roe And Lerwick
3-5th July - Unst, Yell, Muckle Roe And Lerwick
6-7th July - Orkney
6-7th July - Orkney

28th June - Foula

The next stop on the trip was the tiny island of Foula (pronounced "Fulla"), population about 30, 2.5 miles by 3.5, and 20 miles off the west coast of Shetland. We turned up at the tiny airport terminal at Tingwall to wait for the plane, a rugged no-nonsense Britten-Norman Islander, one of very few piston engined airliners still used in Britain today. No security checks, not even a request for id. I think they knew exactly who we were because we were obviously 'incomers'. The only other passenger on the flight boarded with a sledgehammer! Somehow we managed to reach our 30kg luggage allowance, and after the pilot ribbing Debbie after she asked which bags were going underneath - "there is no underneath, they all go in the back" - we got on the plane. Brief over - "exits are here (obviously), we'll be flying at 1500 feet" - and with a manic grin and thumbs up from the pilot, we took off in a few hundred metres.

We arrived about 15 minutes later at Foula, but the fire crew and their dog must have still been careering across the island on their quadbikes, because the fire engine was still in its garage. So the pilot took us on a magical mystery tour ("next stop America, though we don't have enough fuel") of the cliffs, which are the second highest in Britain after the ones on St Kilda, and impressive even from the air, especially when flying lower than their tops! Fire engine manned, we landed on the tiny gravel airstrip to be picked up by Marion, the owner of the only B&B on the island.

Being a sunny day, we decided to scale Da Sneug, the highest peak on the island, in case the weather deteriorated the next day, which it did. From Da Sneug a short walk takes you to Da Kame, the largest of all Foula's cliffs. I'll never forget the feeling of awe as it appeared out of the cloud - it's absolutely massive, and photos sadly don't do it justice. The cliffs are full of various seabirds, but the most prominent birds on Foula are Great Skuas, or Bonxies, which dive bomb anything that gets near their moorland nests. Luckily they don't tend to make contact, and carrying a stick above your head discourages them from trying, but they take some getting used to - they are big birds, and the rush of wind as they miss by centimetres is unsettling.

Baggage Handler And Britten-Norman Islander, Tingwall In Britten-Norman Islander On Way To Foula, Shetland Mainland Below Foula From Britten-Norman Islander Foula From Britten-Norman Islander Coming In To Land On Foula In Britten-Norman Islander Debbie With Bonxie Stick, Foula, Airport In Background Half Sheared Sheep, Foula Foula From Main Ridge Sheep, Foula Da Kame, Foula, The Second Highest Sea Cliffs In Britain After St Kilda's Debbie On Da Nort Bank, Foula Debbie And Shetland Ponies, Foula