Coastal Walks – Sandsound tae da Brig o’ Weisdale

Sunday was forecast as being dull early in the morning, but brightening as the day went on, and it did just that. A cold start, but I soon warmed up as I climbed uphill to look at the first abandoned croft house of the walk – and there were quite a few. Most were due to the clearances that took part in the 1800’s – Weisdale valley saw 318 crofters evicted, many Shetlanders emigrated abroad to look for work and a new life in a less feudal society.

The going was fairly easy to the tip of Russa Ness, but harder after rounding the Ness due to the heathery nature of the hill. Keeping close to the water was the best solution as the grassy parts were at the edges, but where it became steep, there was no option but to plough and spring over the heather – always worrying about that obscured rabbit hole that just might twist an ankle. Poor Erica had been dragged along for a bit of a work out, but the heather proved to be a bit of a challenge (as it towered over her), so I relented and gave her a lift in my rucksack till we were on grass once more.
Some work was going on in a mussel-farm boat, I imagine they were cleaning some of the lines, although I couldn’t see them – I could hear them. This was fairly close to the first abandoned Weisdale croft. The land around here has been worked well and it was really easy going over what is now grass. I think there would have been some proper agriculture here in the past as I have seen old pictures of bonny rigs further along the Cott road.
It was really interesting from this point, as there was a lovely unfolding coastline with lots of man made stuff to look at and signs of old work practices, (crubs, boat havens, old ironware scattered here and there and so on.) Pretty little streams wound down through the limestone outcrops where the odd tree battled for survival. There was even a small plantation at Sound, where John Clunies Ross (1786-1854) – King of the Cocos (Keeling Islands) was born. He established a settlement and coconut plantations here and claimed the islands as his own, ruling them until his death. Formally given to the Ross family by Queen Victoria in 1886, the islands were eventually integrated with Australia in 1984. The graveyard next to the ruined houses of this small promintary is one of the nicest spots on the Cott road.
The rest of the walk was a pleasant stroll down by the water, old long grass made the very last bit of the walk a bit laborious and awkward, but managed to reach the junction with the Kergord road without feeling in any way tired.

© Copyright Diane Garrick