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Jim and Ewen's Big Trek

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Jim Leask & Ewan Anderson are undertaking an 887 mile trek round the coastline of Shetland,.....

Hi there. We're trekking in aid of The Archie Foundation, SOFT and The Fire Fighters Charity. We've set a target of £22,000 to be raised, roughly representing £1 for every Shetland Resident. We are aiming to walk the 887 miles of coastline of every inhabited island in Shetland.

At the start of the summer we'll walk 113 miles around 7 of the smaller, more difficult to get to islands on our days off work, before tackling the remaining 774 miles and 6 islands over a 31 day period starting on the 24th June, averaging 25 miles per day over the 31 day period. We’ve got a Sunday Tea’s and Bring & Buy Sale on this Sunday…very Rock ‘n’ Roll! We’ve probably got about £1000 so far through sponsor sheets and we’ve hardly started fundraising yet so we’re quietly confident that we’ll be able to reach £22,000. 

We’re organising a couple of other fund raising events for June as well so hopefully by the time the main part of the trek starts we’ll be well on the way. Find Jim and Ewen on:   face book   Virgin Giving

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Some Diary Extracts, for the full story www.jimandewan.com

Fair Isle was almost a non starter even before we got on the plane. Thick mist to the South meant that we were delayed taking off and at one point it even looked like the flight was going to be cancelled. The up side of this was that we got the chance to meet a fantastic group of Canadian and American tourists that kept us entertained during the delay and they were even kind enough to add some donations to our fund raising target. The flight took off after an hour or so and we enjoyed a great flight down with Hughie Manson. Flying in the inter island planes is a fantastic experience and we must say a huge thank you to Direct Flight for being kind enough to provide our flights to Fair Isle and Foula free of charge. 
For more information on flights to and from Fair Isle and other destinations http://www.directflight.co.uk/

We were a good way down the eastern coast before the mist lifted. The scenery around Malcolms Head was great and was all the more enjoyable as the sun decided to make another appearance. The landscape in the south of the island is totally different to that in the north. Besides the Bird Observatory all the accommodation is in the south of the island, which is much flatter and more lush. Around the south end we continued to enjoy good weather but true to form, the rain and mist set in again and all the way up to Sheep Rock we were reminded why it is very important to take waterproofs with you in Shetland. While passing Sheep Rock we wondered about the origins of the name, as we surmised that you would not be able to raise sheep on top of it as it was totally inaccessible and it wasn’t shaped like a sheep, so where could the name come from? It turns out that they used to keep up to 20 sheep on top of it and it was classed as a croft. We had a new found respect for the determination of Fair Isle crofters after this, they were obviously a hardy breed! The walk up to the South Haven was beautiful, greatly aided by the reappearance of the sun. We made it back to the Bird Observatory in time for our evening meal and while the weather conditions had not been ideal, there could be no doubting the fantastic beauty of the island.

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The Fair Isle Bird Observatory (FIBO) has just opened after being rebuilt and the new facility is perfect. The FIBO staff are friendly, laid back and extremely knowledgeable , the building seems to sit so naturally in its environment, the views over the South & North Haven are great, the rooms are spacious and very comfortable, the facilities are spot on and everyone sitting down together to eat is very homely. The overall ambiance of the facility is brilliant, we have both stated that we will be back with family and friends in the near future. We would like to say thank you very much to David and his colleagues for their hospitality and kindness. Please visit  www.fairislebirdobs.co.uk for more information!

We started our walk on Thursday with Helen Smith from BBC Radio Shetland, who came along to do a ‘halfway’ interview. We set off from Isleburgh and walked back around Mavis Grind, the gateway to Northmaven. We managed to convince Ewan to take part in the interview this time, as he nearly was overcome by a sudden attack of shyness again. Helen left us at Mavis Grind and we went on to Nibbon and walked back to Isleburgh. The coastal scenery around this area is stunning. There is a beautiful harshness to it that is similar to some of the areas of the Westside. It is pretty hilly in places and you need to be very careful when walking here as it is easy to find yourself coming quickly upon high cliffs, scree slopes or tricky rocky terrain without much warning. We drove back up to Nibbon to meet my sister Clare and her daughters Helen & Freya, for a very tasty and satisfying lunch. As usual we probably ate far too much and it took us a few miles to get going again when we next set off. We had driven up to Hillswick and walked back to Nibbon. The coastline continued to provide some interesting terrain to walk over and the fantastic seascapes provided a fantastic backdrop for our walk. It is very easy to take the scenery we have in Shetland for granted. So many people, myself included, have travelled hundreds or thousands of miles to visit destinations that are famous for their scenery, that often fail to match up to what we have on offer on our own doorstep.

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 Aith to Hillswick

We have been extremely lucky with regards to weather so far which made the drizzly conditions this morning slightly less palatable. The walking conditions from Aith around East Burrafirth and onto Gonfirth would have been alright but the wet conditions meant it was decided that wellie’s would be the best plan. From Gonfirth around to Grobsness and on to Voe was a bit drier so it was good to get back into proper walking boots. We have found that wet walking boots really are not a source of any enjoyment or benefit to your feet so try desperately to avoid getting them wet. The weather meant that you couldn’t see much at times so it was hard to judge the scenery constructively in some places, especially after the wonderful weather that we had enjoyed over the past week and a bit. Grobsness is a quite nice little spot and Lower Voe is rather picturesque. The stretch of coast coming in to Lower Voe was covered at a much brisker pace than the previous few miles, this may or may not have been due to the fact that the Pierhead Restaurant lay in wait. After some tasty food it was time to push on around to Brae. We both had falls on the rocks at the shoreline at different stages and both had to have a little recovery spell while the other walked on. On one of these recovery rest spells, I tucked into some of the food that Ewan had brought with him, much to his confusion. He asked me how I had managed to cook the chicken? With a panic stricken face I quickly checked the back of the packaging to find that you were supposed to cook the chicken at gas mark 7, for 16-18 minutes, not dip it in some HP fruity sauce and eat it straight from the packet as I had done. I spent the next 8 hours convinced I was going to get food poisoning but thankfully my stomach seemed to be made of tough stuff.

.......Food supplies were getting a bit low, so a late night trip to the supermarket was a must on the way home. You become so used to being outside and covered in mud and various forms of animal muck, that it is easy to forget about what you must look like sometimes. This becomes somewhat apparent when you have to mingle with shoppers in the supermarket, who are clean and well presented and you are in hiking gear that is plastered from head to toe with various forms of nature. We are off to Fair Isle in the morning so can’t wait for that. Neither of us have been before and we are being joined by 2 friends. The forecast isn’t looking too good but hopefully that won’t affect us to much.

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