36. Day Three in Shetland: Levenwick Beach, Mousa Broch

Long before I left for my trip, even before I had decided to go to Shetland, I had heard of the storm petrels migrating nightly to a broch on a deserted island there. When I started making my plans, I booked a reservation as soon as I could. As the time to leave approached, I decided to do the day trip to Mousa Broch as well, to see it in the daylight and to explore the small island where it was built. There is only one tour that goes, Mousa Boat, and they were wonderful!

I got an early start, and since the boat didn’t leave Sandwick until around noon, I drove a little further south to Levenwick beach.

Ohhhh nooooooo!
Boots in the water.
A great place to wild swim, if one does that sort of thing.
Beautiful shades of ocean.
Filtered the heck out of this churchyard.
Fish buffet for Arctic Terns. They were making quite the racket.
The Mousa Boat
‘Twas a bit chilly, but look at that sky.

This structure is one of the oldest in Scotland, and is the best-preserved broch as well. (Brochs are peculiar to Northern Scotland and the Islands. I visited a fine example of one in Lewis, Outer Hebrides, in 2018 called Carloway.) The relatively small diameter and unusual construction (thick wall at the base, thinner wall as it ascends) helped it retain most of its height over two millennia. It contains the oldest original stairway in the UK, still in use. Of course, it’s been reinforced over the years to make it safe to visit. But the feeling when you enter is….well, it’s very hard to describe. Generations of people lived there, and it is an awesome standing monument to the persistence and brilliance of humans.

The broch in the distance.
Mainland from the island.
Old old stones. Stacked by ancient hands.
At night, storm petrels nest in there!
Just sayin’.
There would have been a wooden structure inside to make floors and chambers as living quarters.
Those stairs were made for smaller-than-modern feet! I had to turn my feet sideways to fit.
From the top.
Directly across the inlet on the mainland, you can see the ruins of another broch, the sister building to Mousa.
Wire mesh over the top to keep other birds from flying in from the top and harassing the petrels in their nesting places inside the walls.
An abandoned farmhouse. No one has lived on Mousa for a couple hundred years.

Did I mention that the Northlink Ferry website has fabulous information about Shetland? Well, it does. Here’s its page about Mousa! And also some AWESOME photos.

Beautiful lichen.
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds manages the island. There is a lot of research that happens on the island, monitoring the health of the bird population.
A lovely garden.
The boat swings by so we can see the broch from the inlet.
From afar.

The walk around the island was pretty benign, but I was ready for an evening off; didn’t even wander out for the sunset.

1 June, 2022


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