When Paula asks what I am up to this weekend, I know am in for some kind of expedition. It never fails. This time, Magnie asked if I was to come along. This time, this corner of the main island was uncharted. If Saturday was to be crossed with a permanent red marker, we spent the latter part of that day preparing for the outing… Magnie was to take the Warrior; Paul and I, our respective camera kits. A Gallic-style style picnic was prepared on the morning… We would have a wonderful time.
Sunday came with a generous amount of light, as I left home just after 0800. My early Tweets were read at Girslta. Paula advised for me to take my time… So I decided to take the scenic roads, Fladdabister, Tingwall Valley – all glorious in golden light. Magnie made me a cup of tea and a piece of toast. I smiled and enjoyed both, even though Paula’s local garden birds distracted my eyes and lens. Argh! We packed our food, flask and bottles and took Smudge in the back of the pick-up. Sunday unfolded a mixed bag of colours on our way to North Roe. North Roe, our gateway to a day of wonders.
That’s when I realised wild wilderness would be only reached off-road. Magnie explained our destination was to be found at the back of Ronas Hill – across the wild hills of pink granite. So he engaged into 4-wheel drive till he stopped the engine by the cliff edge.
On our way to the edge of our known world, we pit-stopped to admire miles of peatland, granite and blue, as Fethaland Light, Gruney and Ramna Stacks came to view; we wandered through wild over flown water… (and I shan’t mention my iPod momentarily dropped in a peaty puddle for a short while…) We treaded through some serious stones and clots of peats till 12 o’clock. I were to enjoy all those well concealed gems in their North Atlantic casket when we reached our destination.
Uyea. magic wilderness left to itself, men, birds, selkies and sheep.
Seven crofts were once built and manned for some Scottish laird… There was even a teacher at some stage. This corner of wild Northmavine remains, like the fungi-clad stones, silent. Uyea, the island, is in sight. The entire areas turns enchanting, as we slowly make our way to the abandoned toonship. A few greylags slashed through its sky, together with pipits and starlings, as we approached the remains of the old settlement for our lunch. The house we used belongs to Maurice, Magnie’s good friend. It is open to the passer-by. Some people come here to seek shelter during the lambing, other flock in for a party… An old Rayburn adorns its hearth.
Magnie then took us to the edge. Each geo has its magic and private beach of pink boulders. Sadly, no selkies in sight… However, some mighty wave action and dashing fulmars, gannets and shags amused our hearts. Paula and I walked the contour of our world’s edge and reconvened with man & dog after a while. Every moment tattooed itself deep in my heart. So enchanting. And if you think Eshaness shines on pedestal, well, it stands on equal footing with Uyea. You just need a good four-wheel drive.
This wild adventure culminated with a magical encounter, that of a on the track side. Magnie stopped the engine for me to catch our peerie avian friend through the lens. Delicate and joyful.
I shan’t forget my first visit to Uyea. With love and thanks to Magnie & Paula for such a magic day!