Monday, April 29, 2013

Debacle in Shetland: From Lerwick to Hermaness

After a good night's sleep on the ferry, the MV Hrossey deposited me at the ferry terminal in Lerwick on Tuesday morning. That was the point at which my adventures in Shetland began.

I waited around for a few minutes for the chap (Bob, if I remember correctly) from Bolts Car Hire to arrive to sort out my hire car. As I've insinuated previously, I'm going to have plenty of negative or non-complimentary things to say about Shetland, but I'm going to give credit wherever it's due. I have nothing but good things to say about Bolts Car Hire. They were professional, my car was exactly what I needed, and the price was reasonable. I would absolutely recommend them to anyone who needed to hire a car in Shetland.

My initial reaction to Shetland was that parts of it that reminded me of Wyoming. There was a valley that ran from Lerwick to right around Voe that reminded me of a stretch of territory north of Cody, Wyoming. That was a good thing - I love Wyoming. My goal was to head for the northern end of the Isle of Unst to find the United Kingdom's most northerly geocache. I turned north out of the ferry terminal car park and drove across half of the Shetland mainland, then took a ferry to the Isle of Yell. After driving up the length of Yell (and seeing signs for "Chinese Night" at the Mid Yell Boating Club - whatever that's all about), I took a second ferry onto Unst. Unst is the most northerly inhabited island in the United Kingdom, and is apparently famous for its bus shelter... ? During the brief (ten minutes?) ferry transit from Yell to Unst, I was able to get myself a few feet off of the main deck to snap a few pictures.

The foliage on the Mainland, Yell, and Unst was very brown, and the islands are literally teeming with sheep. They're sparsely populated, like most areas of Orkney. I've not visited many of the islands of Orkney, but I've hit a number of them - more than I visited while I was in Shetland - and Shetland's outskirts seem a bit less kept up than even the remote parts of Orkney that I've visited.

Aside from some vaguely interesting scenery, there wasn't much to see once I got to Unst. I drove through a little village called Haroldswick (or maybe it was Baltasound?), and took a westerly turn to get me nearer to the geocache I was seeking out, and parked at the Hermaness Visitor Center. I learned upon arriving that Hermaness is a national nature reserve, specifically providing a refuge for migratory birds. (All I saw there was seagulls and sheep - lots of sheep.)

The circumstances under which I almost lost my life in the Hermaness National Nature Reserve shall be the topic of my next post on my Debacle in Shetland.

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