Posts Tagged ‘Shetland’

Bressay wandering

The MacDonald clan ventured north for a family wedding that lasted for 3 days and spanned 4 separate locales, it was wild and great craic but not so conducive for keeping my fitness up in readiness for Tour de Ben Nevis and Relentless endurance races. I took the opportunity of a lull in the festivities to walk the bits of Bressay I had not ventured into before.

The south east coast of the island comprises the largest area of un-settled wilderness, littered with old villages, sheelings and military outposts it’s clear that this area was not always as empty and bleak as it is now. The coast is intricate with imposing, ragged cliffs rising up over 100m and although the island is small it takes quite a time to thread your way around the cliff edges. Although this area is pretty much devoid of any human activity now it remains a thronging and bustling place, sea birds dominate, screaching, swooping and playing on the thermals, thankfully the bonxies weren’t in dive bombing mode this time of year so walking near the cliff edge wasn’t as dangerous as it could be. How folk survived out here through the winter being openly exposed to the north sea is beyond me. Even in the fine weather i experienced the salinated wind is persistent and wearing. I still have to make it up Ronas hill which is the highest peak of 450m so it’s a definite must for the next visit. Shetland is very different from mainland Scotland, the people and the land have and unwavering, distinct individuality that is rich and engaging. I can honestly say that there is nowhere on Earth like it.

Low level wanderings

So here I am stranded in Kirkwall. Plane was grounded due to freezing fog and in an effort to divert my attentions from the bright lights and frenetic bustle of my surroundings thought I’d stick up some photos I took whilst on late morning wanders in Shetland.

Bressay is an alien place to highlander like myself. Bleak and sparse are adjectives that come to mind, most trails on the interior of the island are made by sheep and rabbits. Few people still dig the peat so human trails are few and far between but this all adds to the remoteness. Up on the higher peaks of which there are two Ander hill (144m) and the Ward (226m) you can watch the weather approaching off the horizon which all adds to the sense of exposure. The landscape is riddled with the past. Numerous crofting settlements a herring station, 2 world war 1 guns (and ammunitioon stores) one on the east one on the west, a military camp and the look out tower on Ander hill; it makes for a haunted atmosphere. If you were brave you could certainly have some fine climbing on the cliffs which are towering and complex even on a small island like Bressay. It’s certainly an environment that encourages adventure and in days of yore demanded it. Hopefully make it up the peak of the Shetland, Ronas Hill (450m) in the summer…

Somhairle

About High-8

High-8 is a loose gathering of like minded adventurists who document first person, on the ground experiences with words, photos and film. The hope is to form a rough guide to outdoor adventure sports in Scotland and provide a warts and all, honest representation of what we find. No sport is excluded from mountaineering and mountain biking to gorge walking and kayak all are welcome and encouraged.

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We have compiled a list of usefull weather forecasts to help with planning trips. This list is designed to work on mobile phones, so it can be used when out in the wilds. Signal willing of course...

The Code

The Country Code, which most of us learned in school (and we probably haven't read since!), was updated in 2004 when it became the Countryside Code. Here's the updated version:
  • Be safe - plan ahead and follow any signs
  • Leave gates and property as you find them
  • Protect plants and animals, and take your litter home
  • Keep dogs under close control
  • Consider other people
In Scotland, where there is a more general right of access, there also exists the Scottish Outdoor Access Code:
  • Take responsibility for your own actions
  • Respect people’s privacy and peace of mind
  • Help farmers, landowners and others to work safely and effectively
  • Care for the environment
  • Keep your dog under proper control
  • Take extra care if you are organising a group, an event or running a business.
There's obviously a lot to to be learned from these - it's amazing how many people get out to enjoy the countryside but are still happy to leave it in a mess. Even with the recent updates, the Countryside Codes seem slightly outdated when considering the wider issues involved when lots of people get out into the countryside. Some places just can't handle high volumes of people, no matter how they behave and publicity, no matter how interesting or well-done , has the potential to attract lots of people to an area. Blogs including video, pictures or words, form part the the wider media which could easily contribute to tipping the balance, and so we as bloggers have to consider the implications of what we decide to post. Can the place we're writing about take more people, and if not, it might be wiser to leave maps, place names or grid references out of posts. In Scotland, the Mountain Bothies Association has been careful to protect the location of some Bothies due to mis-treatment and, in some cases, even malicious vandalism. That is not to say they would not advocate people using them - in fact, a well used, maintained and loved network of bothies exist, and the MBA as an organisation is there to encourage this. Some bothies are busier than others but generally it is the less remote places which are more susceptible to abuse - something which might be worth considering when deciding whether to post information. It must be said, in most cases it's obvious what should or shouldn't be publisiced, but it's worth taking these considerations to mind.

Please note: The Code is constantly being revised and added to. If you like to add something login in to the discussion on the forum.