Simon at the Phonebox.
A trip further north
By Simon Fairclough
Isla Blatchford and I set out on what can only be described as an Odyssey to find our way to the most northerly point in the British Isles.
After leaving Lerwick behind we wended our way up the A970 which forms the spine of the Mainland towards Aith. Taking in some stunning views along the western coast and the island of Burra we come across the rather unfortunately named hamlet of Twatt. Photographs are taken by the sign, which according to the local constabulary has been vandalised on more than one occasion.
Onwards past the village of Aith, which like many of the small settlements in Shetland, boasts a small yet impressive leisure complex. Volleyball will be played here, as well as back in the Clickimin Leisure Centre in Lerwick.
In amongst the rolling moors and hills, interspersed by long lochs you almost stumble upon the oil handling facility at Sullum Voe, the largest of its kind in Europe.
We are turned back after a “lockdown” following the tragic events which are unfolding in London the same day – with operators BP clearly taking no chances with unfamiliar media faces from the Channel Islands.
Undistracted from our aim we hit the road once again and wind down towards the small ferry port of Toft. The café is home to “Da twelve Shetland Apostles”, and the usual warm Shetlandish welcome.
We are advised to look out for whales on the short fifteen minute ferry journey from the mainland to Yell and the scenery is simply breathtaking.
House with a boat for a roof!
One can’t but help feeling sorry for the inhabitants of Yell – which you feel you just have to do – as you speed across their island as many others do, to make sure they are in queue for the next ferry north to the most northerly inhabited island of Unst.
Now you really do feel as if you’ve arrived in the northerly most outpost of the British Isles. We top up the car at the most northern garage and find out that the owner recently visited the most southerly church in Jersey. It is a small world.
Amazingly, despite boasting the most northerly post office, pub, house etc. the locals do not seem to have gone to town on exploiting the fact with the few visitors who have dared venture this far up country.
The decorated bus stop.
Only the bus stop, complete with collection of books, sofa, carpet, computer and keyboard seems to be the focus of attention.
Yet there’s still further to go – another five miles beyond Haroldswick to the most northerly house (complete with upturned boat roof) and beach where all you can do is paddle and marvel at the beauty, peace and tranquillity that awaits …
last updated: 13/10/2008 at 11:24