Sunday, 20 May 2012

Shetland - St Ninian and a White Staine

Day two and the wind is so strong that the ferry to Mousa isn't running - must be bad then! Plans hastily rearranged and a few other things added.

St Ninian's Isle is connected to the mainland by a tombolo - that strip of sand. It is only completely covered at very high tides so access to the island is almost always possible.

Although the sky is blue look at the rain storm heading our way! It hit when we were about half way across.

The island has some spectacular cliffs which are home to seabirds. The cliffs are precipitous and with a howling gale blowing I had visions of taking flight off the edge..... The sea really did look that blue

Blown back to the tombolo we came across the ruins of St Ninian's chapel. This is 12 century  but remains of a pre Norse site were also found.

The Chapel is famous for the discovery of a cache of 8 century CE  secular silver which was discovered literally marked with a cross. We were able to see copies of the treasure which is ranked as some of the finest Scottish silver found in the museum at Lerwick; the originals are now in Edinburgh.

Next on the list was a more demanding walk. In Scotland there is a general "right to roam" so provided you cause no damage you can walk just about anywhere; no need to stick to footpaths or get the landowner's permission first. We took full advantage of this to climb up to a burial mound overlooking Mousa Sound.

Our objective was not visible from the road so leaving Zebedee in a convenient layby we trusted the map and headed up. And up. And up.

We were able to follow a farm track for some of the way but still had to clamber up some very steep grassy hillside. I now understand why the wild haggis has the legs on one side of its body shorter than the other.  4 legs and the ability to emulate a mountain goat would have been useful. Fortunately although there were plenty of wire fences, barbed wire is rare and they were easily negotiated.

Finally we got to our objective and drew breath. It is now just a grassy rocky mound but definitely worth the climb. 

Nearby according to the map was a feature marked as "white staine". I wonder if we could spot it from the cairn?

 Ah so not so far away then- or so it seemed. In reality the intervening land is a good wet peat bog and avoiding it meant a surprisingly long detour but we got there eventually.

 Rather rashly we decided to make a round trip and try and find the "grey staine" but time was passing and after negotiating too many  peat bogs we headed back down hill to the car without success.

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