Shetland Mainland - part 4: An early start in the east

"Half five it is then..." I lay back, pulling damp folds of down close and settled to sleep. I am not an early riser by nature and baulked at the early start, but it was necessary if we were to use the strong tides of Yell Sound, paddling against the flow being less appealing even than the dawn start.
Yet there is something very special about being on the water so early and as we were whisked into the fret, I was happy to be moving so easily, covering the miles quickly as we headed toward the point of Lunna Ness.
Looking north, the sun had begun to burn the mist from the steep flanks of the voes...
...though to the east, the sky hung heavily, thick and dark above shimmering seas.
The tides forged east, pushing us rapidly on to the point where we took our first break - a quick rest before rounding the low rocky spur to head south.
Here we met the south-easterly swell that would be a constant, more or less, for much of the rest of our trip.
Heading now for Lunning Head, breaks of sun burst between thick banks of mist before we cut through the channel dividing West Linga and Mainland, hugging the cliffs now to avoid the north going stream.
A slow crossing of Drury Voe followed, where the swell gathered its strength, rolling crests thick with the volume of distant winds. Tim above, slows as the Whalsay ferry rolls beyond.
Stava Ness and then The Keen, headlands passed one by one, wide voes crossed between...
...and then the skerries.
Inner Voder, Bressay the high ground beyond, where the swell heaved, breaking heavily, surging green and white all around.
We paused awhile, before turning south once more, towards The Flaach and Fru Stack.
Brian ahead and Tim pass the gap behind Fru Stack before making the last push south to Bressay.
Landing upon a white beach we were greeted by the son of a local crofter and chatted a while before pitching the tents. As we talked I could feel myself shutting down, cold, aching, irrational and tired. I turned to the tent and tea...it was a sudden crash and a warning I should have heeded. But some food, hot drinks and sleep seemed to put things right and I woke the next morning feeling no more tired than any other, ready to make the next push south, on toward Sumburgh. It was not to be.

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