After the rally we headed even further north to Unst, the most northerly populated island in the British Isles. We were going to get used to lots of “Most Northerly” monikers over the next few days!

The rally was near Vidlin in the North-East of the main island, so the journey to Unst involved two ferry crossings with a ride along the length of Yell in between.

We’d booked to stay in the hostel at Saxa Vord for a few days, which seemed highly appropriate as it was the old Sergents’ Mess of the RAF base on the island.

Bathroom and kitchen facilities were shared as for most hostels, but this was sheer luxury for us after a few days camping. We took full advantage of the hot water supply with a good soak in the bath, utter bliss.

We self-catered for most of our stay, which enabled us to meet some of our fellow hostelers over the kitchen table. They were an interesting bunch, mostly enthusiastic bird watchers from an assortment of backgrounds and countries.

It was great to bump into one of our fellow rally goers at the most northerly Post Office whilst buying post cards.

Shopping for supplies gave us an insight into what it’s like to live somewhere this remote: “No bread till tomorrow, milk should be in Wednesday!”.

The Summer Solstice and our first Wedding Anniversary fell on the Tuesday after the rally.

We enjoyed a lovely ride around the island, and were pleased to find a couple of standing stones to the South of the island.

The second of these at Bordastubble had amazing acoustic properties, which started to echo my voice as I was walking towards it whilst chatting to Tony.

Muness Castle was well worth the visit, as were the remains of a Viking house at Underhoull, and the beach at Lund.

On our way back we dropped in to the most northerly pub at the Baltasound Hotel.

We enjoyed some banter with the locals and owner, who broke into the supplies of cider that he’d ordered in for an upcoming festival, just for us. We were so bowled over by how friendly everyone was that we booked to have dinner in the restaurant in a couple of days time.

Heading back to Saxa Vord, we had just enough time for a quick wash and spruce up before our celebratory dinner in the restaurant at the resort.

The lovely folk at Saxa Vord really spoilt us with a complimentary bottle of wine and our own special anniversary dessert, both completely unexpected and very gratefully received.

Later that night we enjoyed a spectacular sunset before the twilight of the simmer dim.

Over the next few days we quite spectacularly failed to get to the Hermaness National Nature Reserve, which was the daily destination of many of our twitcher co-habitees.

Luckily for us (if not for them) we didn’t miss out too much, as no puffins were sighted during the length of our stay.

We did manage to spot a good number of the islands bird species on our travels though, including being dive-bombed by the fearless Great Skuas, locally known as Bonxies, on our ride up to the Radar Station at the top of the hill.

We’d hoped to get on a boat trip out past the Muckle Flugga Lighthouse (if only because it’s such a great name), but sadly this was also not to be.

This was not wholly unexpected after a chat to a lovely chap in the bar on our first evening at Saxa Vord. He’d been coming to Unst for four years, and had only just managed to do the boat trip the day before we arrived, as that was the first time that the weather had been favourable.

I’m guessing that the people who run the trips have an alternative source of income!

No visit to Unst would be complete without a visit to the famous Unst Bus Shelter, whose story is told most eloquently on its official website here. The guest book is now sporting a rather spiffing Wed-n-Fled sticker.

We were sad to leave Unst, but the Orkney Islands were calling, well, that and our booking for the ferry.

We packed up, said our goodbyes to staff and guests at Saxa Vord, and headed back across Unst and Yell to Lerwick on the main island.

Joy of joys – after keeping our eyes peeled for all the time we’d been in Shetland we finally saw a sea otter, who I swear gave us a little wave when we spotted him in the harbour just as we rode off the Yell ferry!

He back-flipped away into the bay, and I bounced in my seat all the way to Lerwick, with the biggest grin on my face :-)

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