The second week of June and the weather has been what you imagine summer at 60° north be like. Bright sunshine but cold winds, still days but under a lid of impenetrable cloud – that’s why most of the photos from this week look so dark. It’s strange, you don’t think about it at the time but when you go through the phots you realise just how much the sun gets filtered through those clouds. But I still love this light and it’s been great to get outdoors.
I’ve been busy working on the new Shetland Wool Adventures Journal for a few weeks solid, so it was great to head to Burra to pick up one one of the knitted samples from Donna Smith. We took the opportunity to go for a walk to Meal beach and along the coastline.
The contrast of the turquoise sea, the light sand and the dark sky is spectacular. Often in Shetland you get a little strip of sun reflecting on the horizon which I find absolutely magical.
You can imagine how cold the sea is. On average it’s around 9°C/48°F all year round. So not much swimming here… at least not without a wetsuit.
This time of the year is Shetland is rich wildflowers. Wilt almost continuous daylight everything grows really quickly.
And the lambs are getting big too.
In Shetland you can walk anywhere providing you follow the The Scottish Outdoor Access Code. And that’s a good thing as our coastline is amazingly long – at least 1,697 miles (2,702km).
What a view to enjoy from your house!
When we were walking and enjoying a long overdue catch up with Donna my boys played at the beach. It was such a lovely afternoon and we got home completely rejuvenated and tired out from the fresh air.
Here’s a detail of Shetland’s typical summer flora – you need to look close but when you do you’ll be rewarded by miniature pieces of beauty. I wonder how many species there are in this one spot. I read somewhere recently that someone had a study done at their croft and over 80 species of wildflowers and wild grasses were recorded. Considering Shetland is often perceived as barren it’s quite amazing.
And here’s another interesting fact – Shetland’s own native forrest! Ok, it’s a bit of an exaggeration but this is creeping willow (Salix repens) that is native to Shetland.
On Sunday we met with my friends and their kids for a walk along Sandwick’s coastline. If you look closely across the water you might just about notice Mousa Broch. Brochs are an Iron Age drystone hollow-walled structures found in Shetland and some parts of Scotland.
These buildings have an incredible physical presence, and could be described a marvel of engineering legacy. They continue to puzzle and cause debate among architects, engineers and archaeologists. Their function isn’t know, they might have been lookout towers or defensive structures.
The finest remaining example is the Broch of Mousa, which has survived the intervening millennia virtually intact. It rises to over 13m high making it the tallest prehistoric building in Britain.
But we headed to a different broch this time – Burraland Broch. It’s not as well preserved as the Mousa one, but the outer walls of Burraland still stand to eight feet with interior galleries and outbuildings in evidence around the exterior.
Details of the Broch walls. Many brochs have been taken apart over the years and the stone had been reused for building dwellings.
And yes, you can crawl inside and explore… if you’re quite small! Behind there’s the No Ness peninsula.
The best part of the walk was our al fresco high tea with flasks of tea, pancakes and scones. What a treat. We were joking this summer, as we might not be able to travel far we, should do ‘broch bagging’. With around 100 sites along Shetland’s coastline that sounds like a lot of fun.
More coastal views.
This is an interesting structure worth noting. In 1798 Sandlodge copper mine opened with a series of tunnels which ran out a considerable distance into the sea. Unfortunately due to the cost of extraction the mine was not financially viable. There were various attempts to reopen the mine at the early 20th century.
And look at the lovely primroses (May flooers in Shetland dialect) at the banks.
A typical view on Shetland walks – hentilagets. I wrote about these in the previous post.
On the way back we enjoyed great views of Bressay and Noss.
More wildflowers and old buildings.
Beautiful red campions.
And the day wouldn’t be complete without a swim in the sea! I wasn’t brave enough but my son thought if was fun. Brrr!