Looking back on 2018

Nothing inspires me like looking back on a year’s adventures. Whether that be trips across the globe or how many hills I’ve hiked in Shetland. Both excite me equally. 

Therefore, it only seemed natural for me to introduce my blog by taking a look back at 2018 to give you a little flavour of what you can expect to see as you follow me on this adventure. 

In 2018 Shetland saw some of the best weather recorded since the 70s, making it easy to indulge in everything Shetland has to offer. 

As always, the Shetlander year starts by enjoying all the Up Helly Aas celebrated across the isles. There are 12 in total. We love a good spree here!

Then as the nights started to lighten and the bitter northerly winds eased I was waiting, backpack packed, ready to go!

The first walk of the year was a gentle one to ease back into buxing through the heather. My friend Maurice suggested the point of Trebister (you are going to hear Maurice being mentioned a lot. He’s my go-to exploring buddy. He provides the knowledge and yarns while I provide the picnic). As demonstrated here as I fry up some saucermaet rolls for a culinary experience on the edge of a cliff.

Then one stunning night after work (me and Maurice are also colleagues) we set off to the island of Bressay for a much more gruelling yet breath taking hike to the Bard of Bressay, where you’ll find a one hundred year old gun sat in the middle of nowhere which once would have defended Shetland from any unwanted visitors during the First World War. That walk was exceptional. As we scaled the cliff side a restored Norskie tall ship sailed past. It was such a beautiful, calm night we were able to welcome them to Shetland from 500 feet above. To this day I wonder if they thought we were a mirage. 

Then a special Friday evening was well spent kayaking through the mystical caves of Muckle Roe. A beautiful warm sunny night followed by a roll of mist which made the experience quite surreal. It felt like a Lord of the Rings scene. Weird and eerie, but beautiful and relaxing. A once in a lifetime experience. You can’t plan nights like that. 

Then, a Shetlander favourite- The Hams of Muckle Roe. Which is a special place to me and my family given the last little house on the track, ‘Little Ayre’, is where my Great Granny grew up. 

As summer started to draw in and the beautiful dusky light started to spread, a drive out to the Cake fridge to pick up some yummy home bakes to enjoy at the Burn a’ Lunklet is always a perfect end to a long day, and that was one of those nights I found myself sat there, cup of tea and fancy in hand, listening to a little waterfall as the sun set thinking “I couldn’t be more relaxed and content”.

Then BOOM… the island of Foula. Wow. What. A. Place. I’m going to keep you in suspense because I plan to go back in this year and take you along so you can see for yourselves why it’s so special. 

Then, as always the nights start to draw in here pretty early in the year. In early August Maurice was keen to set off into one of the most untouched and undiscovered areas of Shetland, ‘Lang Clodie Wick’ A gruelling walk into trowie knowe land which exposed me to a whole different side to Shetland I’d never seen before. Exploding with geology, covered in lochs and rewarding us with an elegant waterfall at the end. The walk resulted in a burst walking boot and us racing against time to hike back over the boulders and bogs to beat sunset. Making it back with our head torches on I was exhausted but exhilarated. An excellent way to conclude the adventures of 2018. 

Now a 2019 is on us and I have every intention of making the most of what Shetland has to offer. So come along and discover my Shetland.

A peerie glossary:

Spree:A Party. A jollification.  

Yarn: A good conversation or story.

Buxing: An expression used to describe a heavy wade through long grass or heathery hills.

Saucermaet: A Shetland favourite. Originally created out of necessity. A lavish does of dry spice and salt helped preserve minced, orground, meat, usually beef but sometimes lamb, during the cold winter months before the era of refrigeration. But saucermaet has out lived its original purpose, and the spiced meat remains the most iconic of Shetland dishes.

Fancy: A homebake, baked with love. Usually a cake or tray bake.

Trowie knowe: A trow is a malignant or mischievous fairy or spirit in the folkloric traditions of the Orkney and Shetland islands. Trows are generally inclined to be short of stature, ugly, and shy in nature. Trows are nocturnal creatures, like the troll of Scandinavian legend with which the trow shares many similarities. They venture out of their ‘trowie knowes’ (earthen mound dwellings) solely in the evening, and often enter households as the inhabitants sleep. Trows traditionally have a fondness for music, and folktales tell of their habit of kidnapping musicians or luring them to their dens.

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