Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Debacle in Shetland: Sumburgh Head

During my waning weeks in the Middle East, I started planning my invasion of Scotland. Since I had been to Orkney in 2004 and loved it, and since Shetland was even further out, it became one of my major travel goals. If only I knew, ladies and gentlemen, if only I knew. At any rate, one of the spots that I zeroed in on was the extreme south end of Shetland, Sumburgh ("Sum-burra") Head. I even had a look at it using Google Street View, took a screenshot, and posted it to Facebook as my profile picture. (This was before Mark Zuckerberg and his minions cursed us with Timeline; I say this because the GSV screenshot would have made a decent cover photo.)

My initial plan for my second and final day in Shetland was to drive back to the top of Unst, since I hadn't had a chance to take pictures after the geocaching debacle the day before. I got to the ferry landing for the float from the Shetland mainland to Yell, and waited... And waited... And waited. I just missed one ferry, then waited ages for the second ferry (and didn't make it on because the queue was too long), and finally decided that I didn't have time to keep waiting and do both the north end and the south end. Since I had already done the north end, I decided to pull out of the queue and head south.

The drive south was pretty decent, and included a brief stop in Hillside/Voe (north of Lerwick) to take some pictures. Something like an hour later, I arrived at Sumburgh Head, a peninsula and hill that's famous for its lighthouse and its bird sanctuary. (I was hoping to see some puffins, but I was apparently too early to see them this year.) The hill was much easier to walk up than Hermaness Hill (or Herma Ness Hill - Shetland can't seem to figure out how to spell it), and the view was fantastic. I spent about ten minutes walking around, taking pictures, and enjoying some pretty permissive weather. After walking about as far south as I could, I stood at one location and took enough pictures to make a big panorama from (and I may post it once I actually do it). One of my most vivid memories of my time at Sumburgh Head was the helicopter that was doing touch-and-goes at nearby Sumburgh airport - but more on that in a later post.

By now, my trip to Shetland had become a sort of running punchline, but my trip to Sumburgh Head was certainly one of the highlights. It's always nice to set a goal of somewhere to visit, and then actually pull it off - even if that location is in Shetland. Of course, there were a few more adventures for that particular day...

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