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The Sheland Flyer -two years on!

The Shetland Flyer resting at its destination

On Shetland.

It is now nearly 2 years since we visited Shetland and those of you with long memories will recall that some moons ago I started to write a some notes on our visit. However time goes so quickly when you are retired that I never got round to completing our story. But the recent winter with all the snow and ice has removed any excuses not to finish the job.

After disembarking we drove straight to our hotel, checked in, and then back to the exhibition site and into the hall where all the cars were provided with drip mats to prevent damage to the floor.

You may recall that on the journey north I had noticed a few spots of oil dripping onto the floor. Casual checks in the engine bay showed no obvious leaks although I was using more oil than I appeared to be losing. So while it was quiet I decided to have a good look round. Again nothing was obvious, although no 2 plug was very oily and I assumed I must have been burning some oil.

We spent a enjoyable 2 days at the Show, catching up with old friends and admiring the variety of vehicles on show, both inside and outside. It was while I was outside that I noticed a very smart mid-twenties Standard. This was a V3 Canley belonging to Walter Scott,of whom more later, and had come over from Orkney for the day.

However I was still concerned about my oil loss and made arrangements for it to be checked at a local garage on the Monday morning.

view of the main Hall

Standard Ensign

Walter Scott's V3 two-seater

Monday morning saw us at R.Watts garage explaining to Gordon, the foreman, what our problem was. The car was placed over a pit and a mechanic got underneath and diagnosed a slightly loose oil filter which he tightened. He also changed No2 plug. When I asked for the bill I was told there was no charge and the mechanic would not even take a tip. I was embarrassed by this and asked to see the manager. He also would not take any payment and said they were very pleased that we had taken the trouble drive to Shetland and take part in their Show. So it was off to the local motor factors for 5 liters of oil and some sight seeing.

We travelled the few miles out to Scalloway, had another look at the Memorial dedicated to the seamen who lost their lives manning the "Shetland Bus" and on to the North Atlantic Fishing College for a excellent, and cheap, fish and chip lunch.

We then went on to see Bertie Jamison’s woollen mill out at Sandness on the west coast, some 30 miles from Lerwick on the A971,the last 12 miles of which are single track with passing places.

The mill process starts with fleece from local sheep which is then cleaned, dyed and then spun into yarn ready for knitting up into Shetland clothing.

Both Flyers at the Woollen Mill.

The knitting process was a eye opener with the garments being produced in one operation on fully automated machines. They are then exported world wide.

Prior to our visit to Shetland Bertie and I had had a number of conversations on the steering characteristics of his 1947 12. So after the tour we swapped cars and set off for afternoon tea at the local tea shop some 4 miles away. We agreed there was no real difference in the steering of the cars, both were equally vague! Then it was back to our hotel in Lerwick for some food and liquid refreshment.

After a weekend of glorious sunshine we awoke on Monday morning to rain and a strong westerly wind. .After checking out of the hotel we set off for Unst and the most northerly house in Britain. Most of the road north was sheltered from the wind by a range of hills, but every now and then there was a gap when the wind caught the side of the car and lifted the wipers off the screen so we were driving blind until we were again in the shelter of the hills.

We had taken the precaution of booking the two ferry trips before leaving Lerwick, but no tickets were issued. The ferry terminal at Booth of Toft consisted of a small public toilet and two sets of white guide lines, one for pre-booked and the other for not booked. Loading procedure was simple, once the ferry had docked a large farm type gate was opened, vehicles drove off and then we drove on. Once on board our name was checked on a boarding list and we were off .The ferries are very modern, like small cross channel ferries but with a limited capacity of 12/14 cars. A large commercial vehicle takes up at least half the deck space, hence the need for booking.

The crossing to the Island of Yell takes about 25 minutes, and then we drove straight across the island to the ferry terminal at Gutcher. A quick 10 minute crossing and we were on Unst, which is as far north as southern Greenland and the Island on which Robert Louis Stevenson based his map of "Treasure Island"

On our first visit to Shetland we had met John Gill who originally had lived in Abergavenny, about 8 miles from our home in Raglan, and he had invited us to his home in Baltasound, in the north of the island. On arrival we were treated to tea and home made cakes by John and his wife Marion before John offered to give us a guided tour of the very north of the island.

During the war there had been a radar station on the north coast and John had been involved in the maintenance of it, Today he still has responsibility for the safety of the site and on our way to see the most northerly house in Britain he showed us round. It is still very isolated today so must have seemed like the end of the world in the 1940’s.

As we made our way over the hills we could see in the distance some large open Tourers on the skyline. When we arrived we saw that they were 1920’s and 30’s Lagondas, so we parked in front of them so we were first back onto the single track to Haroldswick. Here we visited the Unst Boat Haven which houses examples of traditional Shetland built boats from the 1860’s to the 1990’s. We then made our way back to Baltasound and our B&B at Buness House. 

Billy's remote Bus-stop

On the way we stopped off at Billy’s Bus stop. This is situated on a isolated road junction just north of Baltasound and, so the story goes, the local Council proposed to demolish it because they said it was not being used. However it was used by a local boy, Billy, while he waited for his school bus. The local population protested to the Council and the bus stop saved. The locals then decided to make Billy’s wait more pleasant and installed a settee, fridge and many other home comforts.

Billy may have a Computer, but does he have Broadband?

The following morning we re-traced our steps to Lerwick in order to catch the 17.30 ferry to Kirkwall on Orkney.

Dennis and Shelia Brown

After a trip like this, it will be a relatively short excursion to the 2010 International Rally

Phil Homer