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Published: 21 September 2019

By Andy Ross

September in Shetland

What changeable weather we are having. Perfect for September!

At this time of year we get the first of the gales and last week we had a wind which was quite the strongest that I have felt in the islands for a very long time. Of course, the wind blew all the leaves off plants and withered those plants not in the lee, but it is the time of year for that sort of thing. We need the bad weather to maintain the balance of the natural world after all. 

This week though has been a different story. After torrential rain at the start which overflowed the burns into torrents, and caused the dark clouds to make things gloomy, we have had two superb days of sunshine, mists, light and amazing colour. 

Yesterday, Friday, I walked into work along the main road between Gutcher and Sellafirth. The A968 is the most northerly A road in the UK, a distinction which many motorists do not discern as they hurry between ferries from Mainland to Unst. However it is also a beautiful walk which causes me to stop frequently and look out. At the head of Gutcher, just before the turnoff to Cullivoe, the view across to Unst and Fetlar is especially dramatic: Bluemull Sound glowing in the autumn sun, shafts of light pouring down through the clouds and hitting land and sea, and those wide, wide skies which stretch forever. 

Further along, the road dips into a glacial valley before curving upwards and around and it is here that one of the best views in Yell can be seen. Closest to the road, red grass, heather and small ponds with geese, ducks and divers. Further away, hills, houses huddled on the horizon, the sweep of a bay, the ocean, and Fetlar rising, half-hiding Skerries. Light skuds across the view, highlighting now the sea, now the land, glowing the crofts brilliant white, or making a patchwork of light and shade on the swell of the hillsides. 

September ends with Wool Week, a fine closing to the summer, but times like this help to make the shorter days of winter bearable. They carry memories of the wonderful light and life that surrounds us in Shetland to keep our spirits up and our souls dancing.