Our activities: Blesma visit Shetland for stunning photography activity
Back in June 2019, Shetland resident and Blesma Member Kev Bryant and his wife Cheryl organised a week-long photography event during which a group of Blesma photographers visited Shetland.
Plans to repeat the trip in 2020 and 2021 were unable to go ahead due to Covid restrictions, but after a three-year hiatus seven Members arrived on Shetland once again to spend a week visiting parts of the islands and photographing the stunning scenery and wildlife.
The week proved challenging, not just because of the weather but also when it came to maing sure there was something for everyone; some were interested in land and seascapes while others wanted to photograph the wildlife. There was also the need for locations that would be accessible to those with limited mobility.
On the first day – the heavens opened and the whole day looked like it could be a total washout. With a quick change of plan, the group braved the weather and headed to Tingwall and Scalloway.
A trip to Burra followed with a decision to visit the Outpost, a sort of bar come-farm run by Tasmanian expat Dave Kok where the drinks are free. Despite the rain, owners Dave and Gemma were on hand to allow the group to meet the wildlife and sample some home brew. With the appearance of patches of blue sky the group took a quick trip to Sumburgh Head to see the puffins. They weren’t disappointed as the birds were out in their hundreds.
I never dreamed that I would ever visit Shetland! However, Blesma made it possible and I will always remember my visit with awe because of the amazingly varied scenery, flora and fauna.
The next day the photographers headed south accompanied by much improved weather, this time to visit St Ninian’s Isle and the seal colony at Rerwick Beach.
“The Shetland Islands lived up to everything I expected; rich in wildlife with beautiful, rugged countryside and more,” said Pete Siddons.
The Members didn’t have time to rest, visiting Spiggie Beach, Quendale Mill and the Jarlshof with stops at Boddam and the fantastically named Fladdabister on the return journey. Tuesday was Northmavine to visit Mavis Grind, Esha Ness, Ronas Voe and then North Roe.
Thursday was the highlight of the trip for the entire group; a boat trip with Shetland Seabird Tours to the cliffs of Noss. The amazing encounter with gannets was accompanied by great commentary from the extremely knowledgeable Phil Harris, himself an Armed Forces veteran. In the evening, the group attended a function at Fort Charlotte which included informative and enthusiastic presentations from local photographers followed by a taste of Shetland music.
There was just time on the last day for a final visit to Sumburgh to see the puffins once more, with a bonus sighting of a basking shark feeding in the waters.
As an above-knee amputee, the terrain was somewhat challenging, but I managed to cope with most of it and captured some wonderful images.
“It was a full-on photo tour of Shetland, with stunning views, diverse wildlife and friendly locals,” said Gary McDonald of the trip.
Terri Hunt agreed: “Everyone on the island gave us a true Shetland welcome, making time to stop and chat to us, to share their knowledge and recommend places to visit. Thank you for the kindness and hospitality given to us during our visit!”