I’m afraid our Shetland blog posts are becoming just galleries of beautiful scenery but frankly, that’s what Shetland has been for us so far. We’ve spent years and years in some of the most breathtaking seascapes in the world, primarily in the tropics, and now we’ve come to such a different kind of environment, also defined by the sea, and equally breathtaking. We can’t get enough of it.
I’m always mindful of Jack’s knees, the replacement one and the deteriorating OEM, and I’m never sure if a long hike is something he wants to attempt, but he’s as entranced by rugged and untamed Shetland as I am. After a couple of Advil he’s game.
We parked at the lighthouse at Eshaness, which the young woman at the tourist office had circled on our map and wrote simply “scenic.” What an understatement.
Within minutes of leaving the car park we faced a view that reminded us of both New Zealand and Australia, with steep cliffs and sea stacks
Along this stretch of coast there are deep clefts, called geos, in the cliffs, formed by collapsed caves and the relentless surf. That means while you’re not making much headway along the sea, the distance hiked is tripled or quadrupled as you walk inland and around the geos.
The top is mercifully flat for the most part, and the distance from the cliffs acts like a volume control, farther away and it’s mostly the wind you hear, closer and the sea menacing the rocks below takes over.
The first half of the hike showed us nesting seabirds and seals on the rocks far below.
Rather than return the way we came we chose a loop inland around the Hols o Scraada, a deep gloup that originally had a natural bridge connecting two caves. The bridge collapsed in 1873 and now it’s a long hike around it, so far inland that you can’t see the sea anymore from the end of it.
The trail took us to the site of a couple of old mills and the remains of a 2000-year-old broch before returning us via the sheep meadows to the car park.
We’re so out of practice for these long hikes that we had taken no snacks, no water, no binoculars, no trekking poles, no thermos of hot chocolate, no GPS tracker. We were grateful to get back to the warm van and put our feet up. We’ll get the hang of it.