22 September 2009--North and west today, to Northmavine, a section of Mainland connected only by a very narrow
neck of land called Mavis Grind, where the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea are conspiring to make Northmavine an island. We're
headed to Eshaness [US]. Along
the way, we see spectacular sea stacks in the distance, the Drongs and Dore Holm. The latter is said to look like a drinking
horse. [The photos below do not properly convey the size of these things.]
At the end of the road stands a lighthouse, built by David Stevenson, last of the engineering Stevensons, in the early 20th century. From there, we walk north along the cliffs, marveling at the thundering surf. It's a good day for that-- southwest winds are strong enough to make us stumble. We give the cliffs a healthy margin.
On the way back, we cut inland to see the unexcavated broch at Loch of Houlland. We are surprised along the way to see the back end of a gloup, a narrow sea tunnel through the cliffs. (We wouldn't have been had we looked at the map a little more closely.) We pass by the ruins of several horizontal mills. It seems to be fairly common for two or three of these to be sited one above the next along their watercourses. The broch sits on what was once an island in the little loch, now easily accessible.
Eshaness is a marvelous place--some would say the essence of Shetland. I think Shetland is too diverse for any one place to encapsulate it, but it has certainly been exhilarating to spend a couple of hours here.
After, we drive around Northmavine, poking around various villages and beaches, and passing by the oil terminal at Sullom Voe [US], said to be Europe's largest. It's not lost on us that the oil that arrives here must be transported elsewhere for refining, then returned here as petrol; despite its proximity to the North Sea oil fields, Shetland must bear very high fuel prices.
On the way back to Lerwick, we stop for a pint at the Westings Inn, which sits on a hillside overlooking Whiteness Voe. Great view, and one of a few pubs in all of Shetland in which to get real ale. We dine this evening in the chippy on Commercial Street, and catch the session at the Douglas Arms, which is pretty good.