It’s not often that January brings prolonged periods of still and frosty weather, but that’s exactly what we had here throughout January and, as we battle with homeschooling and the ever-present threat of cabin fever, it’s definitely nice to get out into the fresh air for a few hours.
We recently walked around St Ninian’s Isle and, as well as being great for adults, this walk is also fantastic for anyone with children. It’s not always easy to persuade bairns to go on a hike, but this one is perfect as there’s a beach, plenty of wildlife and the promise of buried treasure at the end to keep them engaged.
Similarly, this is a walk that is just as rewarding in all seasons. I have highlighted it in winter because, unlike some other walks that can be too wet and boggy at this time of year, this walk is still relatively dry in winter (although you will need walking boots).
This is also a walk that I often do on tours of the South Mainland as the walk and distance can be adapted to suit everyone’s mobility. If you book a tour with me and want to do all or part of this walk, we can discuss that.
We’ve had some incredible winter weather here in Shetland these past few weeks; still, frosty and bright, with very little wind. The usual rain that generally punctuates January, leaving the hills looking washed out under a grey sky, have been notably absent. Instead, Shetland has been dressed in a white frosting, and we’ve been enjoying long walks and snowy picnics.
With this cold snap, the freshwater lochs have frozen over, and they glisten in the low light of winter as the sun merely lifts her head above the western horizon and gently kisses the land before disappearing once more.
The beauty has brought many people out with sledges and cameras to enjoy and capture these precious frosty days, which are little experienced here nowadays. In the past, prolonged periods of frosty, cold weather were frequent, and winter sports such as ice skating and curling were commonplace. Today, our climate is milder, and we have less extended periods of cold, and the ice, when it does form, is fragile and thin.
It has been worrying to see so many foolhardy people attempting to walk over and cross the frozen lochs. It is this that has prompted me to write this blog, to act as a warning and a reminder that ice, as tempting as it may seem, can be incredibly dangerous.
The most tragic of tales is set in the picturesque Tingwall Valley, dominated by the beautiful lochs of Tingwall and Asta.
For this story, I draw you back in time to the 19th century. The tragedy befell the Turnbull family and is centred around the parish minister, John Turnbull, who served the community from 1806-1867. He and his family were based in the Manse, a grand two-storey building overlooking the Tingwall Loch.
A little about Laurie
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