Manson's Guide to Shetland - Page 6 - South-East Northmavine, A sail in Sullom Voe, Signs of nature's force

South-East Northmavine

Manson's Guide to ShetlandSouth-east Northmavine lies east of the main road, and between Queyfirth (just across from Rønies Voe) and Mavis Grind. The centre for visitors here is Ollaberry, just south of Queyfirth, but the whole tract is fairly well-populated. Ollaberry is a pretty toonship around a small bay, at the foot of hills, with a burn running through it into the sea, and looking across to a number of islands in Yellsound (Lamba is the nearest), with Mioness, the northern extremity of Delting, in sight to the south of these, and the island of Yell to the east. It has a Church of Scotland and a U.F. (Continuing) Church.

Manson's Guide to ShetlandThe area in itself is very different from the parts of Northmavine already described, but access is easy by motor to any part of the parish, Ollaberry being quite near Rønies Voe and in a most central position for the whole of Northmavine, while service cars go to Ollaberry and to Sullom, a toonship on the east coast three and a half miles north of Mavis Grind.

The hills here are of fair size, though not rising much above 300 feet, and slope gently down to the sea, the shore being covered with a deep, dull-coloured moss. The lochs are comparatively few, though two of them are of fair size—Burraland and Lunnjister, and the land of lochs between Hamar and Mangaster Voes lies just west of the main road. But the main feature of the area is Sullom Voe, the longest voe in Shetland, which is formed on the east by part of Delting, and whose waters wash nearly the whole shore here. Extending for fully eight miles from Mavis Grind to within a mile of the East Ness of Ollaberry, this voe is absolutely ideal for boating, being perfectly sheltered for more than half its length, no matter what the sea is outside, and having no very high hills surrounding it to send down sudden squalls. Outside Sullom Voe the strong tides of Yellsound working against the wind, raise angry seas; but should even the worst of these sweep through the islands off Ollaberry and into the comparatively sheltered upper reaches of Sullom Voe, they will certainly expend themselves on Fugla Ness, just north of Sullom, and on the Hoobs or Scatsta Ayre opposite, in Delting.

A sail in Sullom Voe

Manson's Guide to ShetlandIn fair weather a boat can safely be taken round from Ollaberry into Sullom Voe. On rounding East Ness a small narrow voe is first reached—Gluss Voe, widening at the head, where stands the populous toonship of Bardister, two and a half miles by road from Ollaberry. Gluss Voe is formed by the mound-shaped Gluss Isle, connected to Bardister Ness south of it by a beach-strip called Gluss Ayre. Rounding Gluss Isle and entering Sullom Voe, with Caldback Ness in Delting on the left, an indentation of the coast on the right is passed,—Dale Voe, with a beach in it and a loch above called respectively Maggie Kettle's Ayre and Maggie Kettle's Loch, the legend being that a certain Maggie crossed from Delting in a kettle and landed here, her ship being the first iron vessel to navigate Sullom Voe! The broad Fugia Ness is now passed on the right with the little Holm of Ungam off it, and facing Garths Voe in Delting, across the widest part of Sullom Voe (nearly two miles). Next on the right are seen, at the foot of a domeshaped hill, the houses of Sullom, with a church (Church of Scotland, formerly Congregational), a manse by the shore, and rejoicing in the possession among their toons of four Biblical place-names—Askelon, Gaza, Ekron and Gath.

The most sheltered portion of the voe now reached, the boat sails down a placid and narrowing channel, past the houses of Lunnjister, Haggrister, Ness and Bight of Haggrister (all on the right), Voxter Voe with Scatsta manse at its head and into the perfect little anchorage of Skipadock (probably same as Skibbadock in Lerwick, meaning "ship-dock"), Mavis Grind lying a few hundred yards to the south, and beyond, Ell Wick, the extreme south point of Sullom Voe. From here Mangaster Voe on the west side is less than half a mile distant, and all the country north of it, including Ollaberry, is accessible by road. If a boat can be arranged for at Sullom or the neighbouring toons, Sullom Voe can be explored when the sea in Yellsound will not permit a boat to come round from Ollaberry, which lies fully eight miles by road, and over four via Bardister and the hills, from Sullom.

Signs of nature's force

On Gluss Isle and on Caldback Ness visible signs may be seen of the damage to the hillside wrought by the terrific thunderstorms and lightning in August 1930. Even more striking, however, is the damage visible on Rønies Hill just above the head of Rønies Voe (two miles from Ollaberry). If the visitor will go up Orrwick Burn, and up the first watershed to the left, he will see where great blocks were torn out of the hillside by lightning and rain, leaving the underlying rock bare and fresh-looking, and he will see parts of the dislodged earth scattered down the banks of the burn and the surrounding hillside. On both sides of the upper part of Rønies Voe also are signs of landslides caused by the same storm, one of these landslides having buried the road to Heylor for a time.


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