Saturday, 26 July 2014

What's so great about Shetland?

Having just spent a week exploring Shetland, I've totally fallen in love with the place.  
So, what was so great about it?  Was it the wildlife...

The stunning coastline...

The history...

The textiles...

The way the weather changes every five minutes..

The Shetland ponies...

Is it the fact that the roads were excellent, really quiet and with no pot holes?

It's all of these things and more, but I think what I love the most is that life is lived the way it should be. 

If you leave something somewhere, it stays there - nobody helps themselves. 
I read that on the beaches there's an informal rule - anything above the high tide line is to be left alone as someone has clearly already found it and left it to pick up later.  Anything below the high tide line is available for anyone to take away.
  I saw no graffiti and virtually no litter.  

Several bus shelters have sofas in them, but the ultimate bus shelter has to be this famous one on Unst with comfy seating and a telly.   There's a photo album inside showing some of its previous incarnations.  At the moment it is Nelson Mandela themed.

We visited a wonderful small woodland, Michaelswood, in which toys are left in various locations for children to play with.  We spoke to the lady who created this amazing place in memory of her son.  She said that cars and toys for the teddy bears' picnic don't go missing - kids put them back for the next person to use.

And here's a wonderful way to buy home baking (and very yummy it was too) - pop your money in the honesty box and write down what you've taken on the pad provided.

Johnshaven is hardly a hotbed of crime, but Shetland is really on another level from anywhere I've ever been.  If only the whole world was like this - no fear, no crime, everyone looking out for everyone else...

Thursday, 29 May 2014

West Highland Way

Wow!  What an amazing, exhilarating experience this was - 96 miles from Milngavie (near Glasgow) to Fort William, through some of the most stunning scenery Scotland has to offer.

I did the walk with my dad to raise funds for the PSP Association.  Neither of us are exactly super-fit, muscle toned athletes, so it was always going to be a challenge!  Dad is 72 and has a heart condition, so we just had to take it at a steady pace, plodding on whilst the younger, fitter walkers zoomed past!

I won't ramble on with a blow by blow account, as it's probably the photos that you're more interested in seeing!  Each day had its own unique features - beautiful woodland, pretty waterfalls, steep uphills, steep downhills, scrambling over boulders, crossing fast flowing burns, squelching through lots of mud, tramping along miles of old military roads etc.

So, here is a very small selection from the hundreds of photos I took.  We did get wet, but the weather was fairly kind to us really.  There were no midgies and, most importantly of all, no blisters!

Gorgeous, misty woodland at the start of our journey.

Dad on the approach to Conic Hill

 The view from the top of Conic Hill.  Shame the sun wasn't shining, but still a lovely sight. 

The start of our walk along Loch Lomond - it's awfy long (about 24 miles) and the path is really difficult.

Abandoned cottage at the northern end of the loch.

On Rannoch Moor, walking from Bridge of Orchy to Glencoe.

Black Rock Cottage, Glencoe

Buachaille Etive Mor

The view through my bedroom window at the Kings House, Glencoe.

Unspoilt Highland landscape, totally inaccessible by road - just wonderful! 

Here we are on our final day, having just climbed a steep hill out of Kinlochleven.

 The climb was well worth it for views like this!

Ben Nevis - we met several other walkers on our journey, a number of whom were planning to climb this giant the day after completing the walk.

A glimpse of Fort William at last - still several miles to walk though!

That last day was really tough - 16 miles on the hottest day of the trip. 
We were pretty exhausted by the end and were very glad of the showers in our b&b!