Friday, 30 March 2018

Shetland attractions

Well the last Up Helly Aa took place  at Delting in the north mainland recently and the weather was terrible with very strong winds and freezing temperatures . These events never get cancelled due to the weather and the only break was during the war years.

                                                             The Galley ready for buring number two

The south mainland Up Helly Aa seems to have the best weather of all the fire festivals this year.

Events like these and the very successful BBC1 drama - `Shetland' has certainly drawn people to the islands. This year will see about 92,000 cruise liner passengers set foot on the islands, around twice the amount that came last year. These will be brought on a record number of cruise ships, but next year will be even better with 109 cruise liners due bringing 107,000 passengers.

                                                                                          Quendale Beach

Recently the  RAF radar, built at Saxa Vord was officially opened and one of the first visitor a few days later was a Russian fighter which flew down the north isles and was seen by a number of early risers.

I doubt whether any Eurofighters from Lossiemouth would have been able to intercept the plane as it would be have been far away when they arrived in Shetland.

                                                                                     Old buildings at Quendale

Russian bombers and fighter are becoming more frequently encountered around Shetland so its no wonder that Radar was installed in Unst.

                                                                                         Ireland (in Shetland)

Unst is also a possible launching area for UK satellites but we still have to wait and see whether this will be the chosen location.

                                                                     Ireland looking south to St Ninian's

I have been giving talks to the WI groups recently and its always to see so many people interested in Wildlife or the Night sky. I was also interviewed by the Shetland Life magazine who wanted an article on the various aspects of photography in Shetland, I talked about the Night Sky which is a favourite subject for my photography courses.

The next one fully booked again with a number of folk on the waiting list. My facebook group, Shetland Aurora Hunter continues to grow and it is now just under 2,000 members, not bad for 16 months. If you want to see some very rare Aurora `Steve' photos then go to

                                                                  Superb Aurora see above for more

For anyone in Sheffield, I will be giving a talk on `Amazing Shetland' at St Augustine Church Brocco Bank on Tuesday 26 June at 7.30 (I can send you details just contact me for further information)

Thursday, 15 March 2018

South Mainland Up Helly Aa - Burning

On onto the second stage - the burning. After the galley was secured all the Guziers marched up to the galley to throw their torches in

The smell of paraffin and taste stays with you throughout the event. Its not surprising as the torches are soaked in paraffin for several days


The galley doesn't take long to start to burn. Its a well organised event and never has any problems regarding safety even though people crowd round.

                                                                                      Torches thrown in

Once all the torches have been thrown into the galley it is launched into the sea, the Lerwick one is burnt in the park which is not the same.

                                               The firework display is always well worth watching

                                          The final stages of the burning and it happens so quick

                                                                                       SMUHA is a great event

Well that's another year for Up Helly Aa except for the Delting one, for next years squad they will be starting to get things organised, building a new galley & making the outfits all in secret.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

South Mainland Up Helly aa- Procession

On Friday the South Mainland Up Helly Aa took place in Sandwick, just below where we live

We headed down to Sandsayre and managed to get a spot near the sheds. Lots of cars came down the narrow road and found parking on a muddy site next to the farm

The weather couldn't have been better with a still clear night, the best for any Up Helly Aa this year.

A rocket was launched and the torches lit up on the top road. It looked like a big fire and was very impressive as the 564 torch bearers headed down the road.

The venue changes each year for the south mainland one, next year this will be in Gulberwick

The procession draws nearer, a mix of men and women and the only Up Helly Aa which allows this

The first SMUHA event took place in 2010 with 328 Guizers and has continued to grow every year

More and more people started to turn up in front of us and many made their way onto the beach to get a closer look at the galley. Up Helly Aa is a major even in Shetland and its not just one, there are ten and the South Mainland one is the second biggest.

I will post the burning photos very soon so please come back for a look