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Published: 13 October 2015

By Andy Ross

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October northern style

A sunny day in October A sunny day in OctoberA walk to work in October makes a difference...

Gutcher, the little settlement or "toon" in dialect, lies at the end of the main road northwards. It is not the furthest north in Yell that you can go; that distinction goes to Gloup, but it is the closest point to Unst and thus is the ferry terminal to both that island and Fetlar. Gutcher is small, just a dozen or so houses, and mine is a double storey house on the side of the hill overlooking the terminal. Ferncliff was built in 1824, a solid stone construction which has withstood weather and time, and is now home to us. 

Today dawned bright and sunny. The sun is rising now after seven as the light draws in quickly,and it looked like a wonderful day to walk to work. The studio, the view from which is left, is not far from Gutcher, in Sellafirth, and the walk is an easy fifty minutes stroll, time to reflect and think and to be inspired by the surroundings which present a different view of this part of Yell whatever time of year. Now is the red season when the light changes quality and tint, and the red grass covers the landscape with an almost crimson hue. 

On the walk today I came to the top of the hill at Gutcher and looked back, across to Unst. The sunlight was bright, casting black shadows in the ancient peat cuttings and clefts where streams have cut through to the bedrock. A flock of geese lifted up and flew across the glacial valley in front of me, calling in alarm before settling back down next to a shaggy white sheep which idly looked up and then resumed grazing. In the loch seven swans drifted and called to each other, and the ferry plied the water between Yell and Unst, rippling the sea. 

A little while later, the loch near the studio played host to a flock of geese which washed themselves vigorously, splashing energetically in the water. A raven flew overhead, black wings shushing through the air, and a cool breeze blew in the sounds of a fishing boat going out for the day. Before I knew it, I was at work and a little bit of magic had happened on the way. A problem with which I had been grappling for days had been solved in my head while I walked. Walking seems to have that effect, putting things into perspective and giving me a little bit of time to be alone and think differently. Ah! October! There is nothing to beat a walk to work in the autumn in this beautiful part of the world.