Day 14 – Visiting the Lighthouse at Bressay

After a good sleep, it was up and a walk followed by a reasonably easy morning since I didn’t have to catch the ferry to Bressay (pronounce Bressa in Shetland) until 11.00 am.   He had been very good yesterday on a short lead so I took the long line for Dexter this morning to give him a bit more room to run. 

What a mistake! No sooner had I put it on than he ran over the stile we need to cross.  I called him and he came straight back which is unusual!   Following a treat and a controlled crossing we went into an open area and then the trouble began.   Dexter saw the sheep before I did and ran.   I called him and he pulled on the lead and then just when I thought he was coming back, he bolted again with me hanging on for grim death and landing on my back in the wet grass.    Dexter came racing back to see if it was a game and tried to jump on me.   No real harm done other than rope burns on my hand and a wet bum but it did mean we turned around, he had his very short leather lead attached and we had a walk along the road.    Poor old Dexter doesn’t learn that it makes life more miserable when he continues to chase sheep!

The weather today was still dry but very misty so still not great for photos.    I went down to the ferry terminal in Lerwick but stopped at the shops on the way down and saw the helicopter hovering.  Not sure whether it was a real rescue or a practice but it hovered for at least 5 minutes.    Long enough for me to park, get the camera out, take a photo and walk into the shop.

At the ferry terminal it was not clear where to go so I ended up driving in front of all the queue before I worked out we were supposed to stop in the ‘Do Not Park’ lanes.  Not sure about the logic there and a few more signs would have helped.   The ferry journey was 5 minutes and the cost was the same as for the two ferries yesterday – another bit of strange logic and apparently the locals from Bressay regularly complain!

I followed the bus that had been sent for the pedestrian passengers to the lighthouse where we were welcomed by a committee of people.   There were 8 of us on the Weaving Stories session and there were lots more who were having a tour of Bressay.    We were taken into the engine room where they now house a large wooden loom that came from a Shetland Tweed weaver and has been renovated by a volunteer.   It is a 4 shaft countermarched loom with a fly shuttle system that does not work.   The heddles were interesting because they were string with metal eyes and the back beam did not have a break, just two rocks to keep it in place!  

There is a sample warp on the loom so we were able to weave a few picks each.   Given it is a manual fly shuttle beater with metal shuttle boxes, the beater is very heavy but other than that, it was easy to weave.   Typically the weaver would stand to the loom resting against a rest but the loom is not against a wall so the rest moves!   This meant we had to weave standing at the loom which reminded me of the Rio Grande looms where the weaver stands to the loom.

We had a look at the small exhibition of tweed weaving and knitting.  Unfortunately all the weaving is behind glass but there was a particularly attractive weave structure on a suit so I took a few photos, of which I think one of them is usable.


This was followed by coffee and cake!    Dexter and I then took a walk.   I had planned to walk to the top of the hill behind the lighthouse but the wind was blowing so strongly and Dexter was trying so hard to get to the sheep that I abandoned that idea and went for a walk along the road back towards the ferry terminal.   The weather was dry but very misty so photos were pretty awful.   The main thing that did show through the mist was a huge cruise ship that dwarfed everything else.    I still don’t like cruise ships (see picture at the top) and it was anchored out in the harbour so you could see the small boats taking passengers into Lerwick.

We set off back to Lerwick and arrived at the ferry to see the ferry leaving the dock so we had an hour to wait.   I had a look at the small museum that is at the ferry terminal with some history of Bressay and lots of pictures of a farmer transferring sheep across to the small island of Noss with a net thrown over the sheep to keep them in the boat.   They now use inflatable boats to do the trip and still  transfer sheep over to Noss.

Once back on the mainland, I visited the Shetland Textile museum which is housed in a Bod.  A Bod was a boarding house for fishermen and so the exhibits are in various rooms.   They have a loom that was the same style as the one seen on Bressay with examples of old and new tweed.  

There was some lace knitting and also Fair Isle knitting.   One lady was spinning and there were two ladies knitting Fair Isle using a knitting belt.   One of them, Barbara Cheyne, was very interesting and we had a long chat about knitting with a belt and also about the colours on Fair Isle and how traditionally, blend of colours was done to make the interesting yoke patterns.    One thing that was obvious is that the star and tree pattern which is traditional has the shaping in the tree which reduces in size as the knitting goes towards the neck.    It makes a very simple way to decrease stitches.   

Dexter then had a lazy evening with no more walks – he only had 3 hours of walking!  


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