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Published: August 22nd 2019
Tuesday morning started off much colder at 10 degrees and very overcast with a little drizzle in the air and a 20 mph westerly wind. Luckily we were heading south off the island and down through Yell to the mainland. The first ferry was just about to set off as we arrived and we rode straight on for the 10
minute journey. Once on Yell we got onto the main road and fell into a peloton with me at the back (mostly) being protected by the younger and fitter riders. The ferry at Alsta came in 10 minutes after we arrived and then sat in the harbour for 45 minutes. Luckily we could get into the passenger lounge to get warm with a coffee bought at the shop which was open today (Closed Sundays). The cloud lifted a little by 11am and a bit of blue sky was seen (hurrah). However, this was not to last as we experienced several squalls and damp periods throughput most of the day until mid afternoon. For those not having visited Shetland I can vouch that it is not flat by any standards as we climbed hill after hill, quite often into a
20 mph headwind. We were looking forward to lunch in Voe at the Pierhead Restaurant and Bar only to be told it didn’t serve food. It sounds like the pub with no beer. A coffee and a sandwich I bought on Brae 2 days ago filled a gap for now. A very long and stiff climb out of Voe took us to a cafe in the hills only to find it was full with people waiting so no good for us. Three of our group set off 2 hrs before us and we found them here in the Cake Fridge and Tea Room, but we left them to finish their pasta only for them to catch us up as we ate our apple pie outside the Aith Post Office and Convenience Store. More hills followed, and more hills followed, until we got to Walls where even more hills followed. Eventually s signpost was seen which said 1 1/2 miles to Burrastow House and 2 miles later a descent was made to a grand old house by the edge of the sea overlooking the island of Vaila. The house is quite old and still furnished as such with one bedroom having
a four poster bed and ancillary furniture to match. Outside on the beach out of the bitterly cold wind (10 degrees) Trevor was painting a watercolour which was very nice. I went over the headland and took a photo if Vaila House on the island which has an interesting Norman turret. I also discovered an interesting timber Pod which is available to rent overlooking the sea. The best however was the sighting of a bull otter feeding near the shore. Luckily I had my camera with me and I got two good shots of it, one of which had it eating an eel. The meal cooked by Pierre and Haan his Vietnamese/ Australian helper was superb.
Breakfast was very nice at Burrastow House and was taken in bright and pleasant extension on the rear of the house with the sun shining for a change. The journey today was under a blue sky with 60% cloud cover but with a hellish 20mph headwind and temperature of 12-15 degrees, feeling like 12 degrees. The scenery was exquisite but the hills were vicious when going against the wind and often they needed pedalling down. It was interesting to see the difference in the
sheep out in the Walls area with many rugged black sheep and some white with black patches. Quite a lot had black faces and dark eyes, some with horns unlike the more predominant mules with Border Leicester heritage. The first store selling hot drinks and food was at Bixter followed by another one at Hellister. After this we climbed yet more hills to Tingwall Airport where we had a lucky escape by ignoring part of the route which went up a hill ahead which looked like 20%. Big relief. I would not recommend the Harbour Cafe which sells burnt toast and cardboard fish and chips with 15 peas as an excuse for your three a day. The better choice was a drink in Captain Flints bar overlooking the harbour listening to AC DC and where a chap on the next table said ’Are ta allreet’? Yes, you guessed it, he came fray Bowton and was on a cruise ship docked for the day in Lerwick. We then boarded the MV Hrossey to commence our second leg of the journey to cycle around Orkney. Kirkwall here we come.
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