I walked almost 30km today, yet without the kindness of an older couple from Unst I might well not have have managed to get to Hermaness national nature reserve! There’s a lesson to be learned from that – don’t be too proud to accept help, don’t be too rigid and set an unbreakable rule of “on foot only” because people can be angels in disguise.
Pilgrimage Uyeasound (hostel) to Hermaness nature reserve, and back to Haroldswick.
Distance walked 30km
Weather: Dry, cool and windy in places (though for Shetland it was actually very calm especially at sea)
Clothing: walking trousers and overtrousers, fleece and rain jacket, buff on head.
I set off on foot from Uyeasound at 7am this morning, treating my long hike as a kind of pilgrimage. My first stop was at Baltasound, a mere 2hours (8km away) because I wanted to post letters and cards from the most northerly post office in the U.K.! In the wee shop along from the post office there was a self service cafe … really self service, you put the kettle on and helped yourself to milk from the fridge. I bought a pie too and heated that in the microwave!
I was impressed they offered real cups, plates and cutlery. There was a fee if you chose to use plastic! Yay!
After my short break I started to walk towards Haroldswick which was another very long climb. It was then that I met some angels in disguise, an older couple (locals) who stopped to ask if I was going to Hermaness, and if so would I like a lift. It turned out they weren’t actually going there themselves, but had seen a young German man walking earlier and had offered him a lift, and then me! Such kindness!
They drove us not just to Burrafirth but right to the carpark of the national reserve (well out of their way!) What It was fantastic that they’d offered (and I’d accepted) as the road up to the Hermaness is a long and windy one (I walked it on the way back) and it is a longish hike (3km?) from the carpark, up, up, up over Hermaness Hill to the cliffs where the seabirds nest … The views are spectacular and well worth the effort! But without the lift I’d have run into troubles getting back!
I walked back down to Haroldswick (more spectacular views) and called in at the heritage centre to use their toilet, and then on to the tearooms the couple had told me about. So not only did I use the most northerly post office in the U.K. I drank coffee (latte) in the U.K.’s most northerly tearooms!
By then I had done all the walking I was going to do (30km) and it was time to catch the last bus of the day (dial a ride) back to the hostel! When the bus came it wasn’t the mini bus of yesterday but a private car (driven by a lovely woman called Pat) who said that although she’d go round the bus route (which meant I saw the Methodist chapel up close) she doubted there’d be anyone else because a ferry had been cancelled and sure enough it was just me. So my journey back to Uyeasound was like a private taxi and cost £2.
I walked 30 km today, and was walking most of the day (7am -3:30pm) with a short break in each Café and an even shorter one on the cliffs where I ate my packed lunch (a tin of tuna, an apple and a bread roll) … I didn’t get hungry today (probably because of the second breakfast!) and quite possibly should have drunk a little more water …