Shetland in 2 days

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skicat
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Shetland in 2 days

Postby skicat » 19 Nov 2016, 6:37pm

I'm doing the British Cycle Quest (BCQ) challenge and trying to plan how to cover Shetland. Is it feasible to start from Lerwick and get to Garths Voe and back in a day? And likewise, is it realistic to do do Lerwick to Sumburgh and get back to Sumburgh by 5pm ? I appreciate this very much depends on my riding style - I tend to average about 10mph with a loaded tourer. I've done 60 and 70+ mile days before when I did my JoGLE, but I don't really know what to expect from Shetland in terms of terrain and weather. I'm thinking of going next May. Any insights would be useful.
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ambodach
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Re: Shetland in 2 days

Postby ambodach » 19 Nov 2016, 7:03pm

Biggest problem on Shetland can be wind. Some hills particularly N. of Lerwick but not too bad, tho' a steep pull just out of the town. Roads are good but wind cannot be predicted. I once took 2 hours to do about 5 miles into the wind. About 20 mins. back and I did not even need to pedal! Distance you can work out from a map but to repeat wind is the most likely problem.

skicat
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Re: Shetland in 2 days

Postby skicat » 20 Nov 2016, 3:55pm

Perhaps I should allow more time. I hate that "range anxiety" feeling when I have to be somewhere (e.g. a B&B) and it seems almost impossible to make progress. At least going from A to B and back in the same day will probably mean a tail wind 50% of the time. Statistically speaking. Nothing is guaranteed of course.
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andrew_s
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Re: Shetland in 2 days

Postby andrew_s » 20 Nov 2016, 6:12pm

The return journeys are about 100 km each, over terrain that's more undulating than hilly, so both in 2 days is perfectly possible, weather aside.
As well as the wind, the other possible problem is sea fog, which could be worrying at times, given that Sumbergh - Lerwick - Sullom Voe is the main road, none too wide, and lacking in alternatives.

I must say, travelling out to the Shetlands, and then only sending two days togging up and down the main road, seems like a bit of a waste to me.

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Re: Shetland in 2 days

Postby awparker » 20 Nov 2016, 7:21pm

I have just returned 2 months ago from a week break in Shetland. My wife was attending the Shetland Wool Week activities and I managed to collect all 6 BCQ points.

In general I agree with the other posts, particularly comments about the wind. I was told that Shetland has on average over 50 days when the wind is at force 8 or over. We had our fair share at least. On one day when at Sumburgh it prevented me from cycling at all. The cross wind made it too dangerous!

The condition of the main North/South road shows that the oil money has been well spent as it is on whole wide, and well surfaced. This does mean that the traffic does not hang around but I found that as lone cyclist I was always given plenty of space. Avoid the morning and afternoon rush hours of oil workers between Lerwick and Sullom Voe if you can.

The point about it being a long way for just two days is well made. There is so much to explore, and cycle, off the main spine. Quite often I was on my own except for a thousand sheep!

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skicat
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Re: Shetland in 2 days

Postby skicat » 20 Nov 2016, 7:36pm

andrew_s wrote:I must say, travelling out to the Shetlands, and then only sending two days togging up and down the main road, seems like a bit of a waste to me.


That has occurred to me, however I am fairly "time-starved" and I was planning to get the Orkneys on the same trip. By the time I've added the days to get there and back I am running out of leave. I could try and spread it out a little but it's always going to be a compromise. If I'm sufficiently impressed by the place I may revisit when I'm retired and don't have a full-on job that seems to take up at least 10 hours of every day and a good bit of my weekends too :(
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ambodach
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Re: Shetland in 2 days

Postby ambodach » 21 Nov 2016, 9:06am

The point about fog is well made. It can be bad from Lerwick northward but ok outside the Lerwick /Scalloway area. At least one cyclist I know of was stopped by police and advised to arrange a lift the visibility was so bad and he had no lights. He was in some danger from traffic moving too fast for the conditions. Having travelled this road in those conditions I could not disagree with this point.

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Re: Shetland in 2 days

Postby phil parker » 21 Nov 2016, 3:16pm

The terrain is ok and the distances are eminently 'doable'! It's the weather that can be unpredictable - this is what I experienced at the end of April this year...

Image

and winds like this...

Image

I would love to go back and spend longer on the island (as well as Orkney, but I managed a few more miles on Orkney this year) - didn't get the midges though :lol: :lol: :lol:

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Paulatic
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Re: Shetland in 2 days

Postby Paulatic » 21 Nov 2016, 6:04pm

It's the weather that can be unpredictable

End of April I would of thought it predictable and lucky if you didn't get it.
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matt2matt2002
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Re: Shetland in 2 days

Postby matt2matt2002 » 21 Nov 2016, 9:56pm

More details on the Quest, please.

I did the Scottish end to end 2 years ago.
Ferry from Aberdeen to Lerwick and then a Bod, Windhouse on Yell for the first night.
Next day up to top of Unst and back to the Bod.
Then second day down to Lerwick and ferry to Orkney.
It was the shortest day of the year so bivvied half way across the island and caught the first ferry off the island back to the mainland.
Then south to Lairg and following day to Ullapool.

Is that the kind of route you'll be following?

Wind? Does the pope wear a funny hat?
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phil parker
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Re: Shetland in 2 days

Postby phil parker » 22 Nov 2016, 5:17pm

I wasn't aware of the British Cycling Quest Challenge - I wish I'd known a couple of years ago as I could have ticked off the outer Hebrides, Orkney, Shetland and large parts of Scotland (as well as the IOW and many other areas of UK)!

However, having now read up on it I think I will give it a go (not all of it) - I can probably do most of the South West and some of Scotland in 2017, it will give me something different to plan, route-wise, and I can stay in one area with a bit more comfort in my new trailer tent rather than my Hilleberg Soulo!

skicat
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Re: Shetland in 2 days

Postby skicat » 22 Nov 2016, 8:09pm

matt2matt2002 wrote:More details on the Quest, please.


Details of the British Cycle Quest are here: http://www.cyclinguk.org/british-cycle-quest. Essentially it's like a treasure hunt with 402 points to visit throughout the British Isles. They're broken down into 6 per county, and there are also 6 on each of Shetland, the Orkney, the Hebrides, the Isle of Man and the Isle of Wight. There's no time limit. For me, I envisage somewhere between 6 and 10 years depending on work commitments. Oh yes, you're supposed to arrive at each point by bicycle or other man-powered device.

matt2matt2002 wrote:Is that the kind of route you'll be following?

I've only done superficial planning so far, but it's looking like arriving in Lerwick early morning from Aberdeen (7.30?), then via Brettabister to Garths Voe. Back down the west coast via Haggersta and back to Lerwick (65 miles). I'd like to do that on the first day and stay in Lerwick. Day 2, down to St Ninian's Isle, on to Sumburgh then back to Lerwick (mostly retracing steps, total 53 miles). This is the day I'm more concerned about as I was hoping to catch the 5pm ferry from Lerwick for Orkney.

Splitting this into 3 days would obviously reduce the time pressure and allow me a bit of time for sight-seeing detours.
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skicat
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Re: Shetland in 2 days

Postby skicat » 22 Nov 2016, 8:11pm

phil parker wrote:I wasn't aware of the British Cycling Quest Challenge - I wish I'd known a couple of years ago as I could have ticked off the outer Hebrides, Orkney, Shetland and large parts of Scotland (as well as the IOW and many other areas of UK)!!


I know how you feel. I found out about it 2/3 of the way through a JoGLE tour, after having sailed right past about 7 of the clues.
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Re: Shetland in 2 days

Postby matt2matt2002 » 23 Nov 2016, 9:33pm

Skicat
The ferry from Lerwick to Kirkwall arrives around midnight.
So accommodation can be tricky.
The Youth Hostel allows late night entry.
I slept behind the public loos half way between Kirkwall and Stormness, at Finstown.
A nice pre dawn ride mostly down hill to Stormness for the ferry to Scrabster. Great views of the old man of Hoy from the ferry.
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skicat
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Re: Shetland in 2 days

Postby skicat » 24 Nov 2016, 7:08pm

matt2matt2002 wrote:The ferry from Lerwick to Kirkwall arrives around midnight.
So accommodation can be tricky.


Yes, I think the timetable says 11pm. I was planning to stay in a pub I think (preliminary research), so I would book this in advance and make sure they are prepared to makes arrangements in case the ferry gets delayed. I'm sure dozens of people must arrive to stay in Lerwick every day so I'm sure there are ways of doing it.
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