Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Leg 6, Day 3: Lerwick - Aith - Lerwick

Day 3; Lerwick to Aith; Lerwick, Aith, Lerwick, Aberdeen

We were woken at 6.30am by an announcement from the Captain of the ferry that we would be arriving in Lerwick (capital of the Shetland Islands) in one hour. 

A full Scottish Breakfast on the ferry (courtesy of the very kind staff on the North Link Ferry), hit the spot before getting underway. Today was something of a rest day with only 70km to cover, crossing the main Island to Aith and then back to Lerwick again.

Lerwick RNLI station itself was a beautiful old building set on the waterfront within the old town, just off the picturesque high steet. A quick photo outside the station and were on the road. 

The ride across the island was hilly, but we were blessed with good weather again and the summits gave some stunning views across the isles. The Shetlands had a very different feel to them from other Scottish islands we have visited, with a strong Scandinavian influence. Most notably a scattering of very colourful Scandinavia style houses (intermingled with the inevitable Pebbledash everywhere in Scotland...)

Having taken the advice of a local who told us about a short cut (saw us coming!!) we slogged our way up and down several hills, only to find out later that it was anything but a short - more like a long way around (c. 3-4x further than our planned route!) I suspect the local lad who gave us the advice may have had an aversion to Rad's new traveller hair style!!! 

None the less, we eventually reached Aith- a small village on the north eastern side of the island, in a beautiful position on the waterfront, where we were given a warm welcome by a few of the crew and a fantastic cuppa. Tales of a rescue missions in the winter through 75ft waves, were more than enough to make us realise what these lads go through in this isolated and exposed environment. 

A number of islanders commented about the weather today, describing it as 'the best day of the year yet'. Being 10th August- 18 degrees with sunny intervals and 15 mph southerly wind- it was hardly something we would write home about down south, so this gave us a pretty good idea of what the weather must be like up here most of the time....

We cycled back across the hilly terrain in good time, taking in the views, and then spending some time in Lerwick for a late lunch, before boarding the ferry for our return night time passage. 

As we didn't have a cabin booked, we were very quick boarding the boat to bag a good spot in the front bar, and put our roll matts for the night! A rather rougher start to the journey (physically impossible to walk in a straight line) prompted us to ask one of the staff how this rated from 1-10, with 1 being calm and 10 being the worst atorm hey have encountered on a crossing. The response was 1-2, which put us firmly in our place, and gave us some idea how horrendous the weather (and ferry journeys) must get in winter.

We quickly made the upper deck look like a Chinese laundry to dry all of our hand washed kit. Following a beer and dinner on the ferry (again, courtesy of the very kind North Link ferry staff) we settled in for the night crossing.

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