Day 2 dawned with the sun making a welcome reappearance; but a stubborn 25 mph headwind was still blowing from the south west. We made an early start, allowing almost an hour to catch the 8.40am ferry from Unst to Yell, and in normal conditions should have covered the 6 undulating miles comfortably enough. In the event, we boarded the ferry seconds before it pulled away, just saving ourselves more then an hour before the next departure. Seamless! But a warning of what lay ahead.
The island of Yell is the second largest in Shetland and consists mostly of desolate, treeless peat moors. There are a few scattered communities and a pleasant coastline affording sweeping views of the surrounding islands. Switzerland it is not. But it is home to almost a thousand souls who make a living from the land and sea. We met one of their newest residents waiting for the ferry to the mainland. He was driving a small lorry delivering fish, having moved up from England during the pandemic after his wife watched a television programme about relocating to Shetland. They sold a house in Gloucestershire and he gave up a stressful job as a long-distance lorry driver. They bought a house in Yell off the internet (without seeing it) and he now drives the island’s empty roads a few times a day and goes home every night. He seemed a very happy man!
We stopped at both of Yell’s cafes. You pretty much have to use every opportunity you can in these parts. Especially when your wife has a battery to charge and you are against a strong, energy sapping wind. The first cafe, which features in overlapping OS maps 1 and 2, was attached to the Hilltop shop in the main settlement of Mid Yell. The names tell you most of what you need to know. The second, which features in overlapping maps 2 and 3, was housed in the 17th century Old Haa museum. It is the oldest intact building on the island, in the very small village of Burravoe, at Yell’s southern tip. And it does a nice currant slice.
The brutal headwind got the better of Jennifer and her battery soon after we got back on “Mainland” Shetland and we crawled into the village of Brae (maps 2 and 3) and collapsed into Frankie’s, Britain’s most northerly fish and chip shop / cafe, for some truly delicious fare. Then we popped over the road to the Brae Hotel for a couple of bottles of Lerwick IPA, all the while recharging Jenni’s precious battery for the final 23 miles into the wind to journey’s end in Lerwick. At least we have a lot of daylight to play with up here in the far north!
Updates from Lerwick:
1. I wrote the above in Brae. 3 hours of food, rest and battery charging later the transformation was amazing. I was able to slip stream my fully recharged, battery assisted wife most of the 23 miles to Lerwick at an unexpectedly fast pace. Never seen anything like it! I don’t think that counts as cheating. My legs did all the work and I am carrying all the luggage. But I was truly impressed… and grateful! All this from someone who at 4pm looked like, and thought, that Lerwick today was a long bridge too far. Well done Mrs W.
2. This evening I made the local press! The Shetland News (www.shetnews.co.uk) posted an on-line article about my trip so why not check it out!