A big thank you to everyone who sent us a note of their favourite walk. We’ll contact the five lucky Moon Walk winners this week. We had some really fantastic entries that covered the whole country and here are a few that stood out for us.
Barbara Moncrieff from Shetland sent us this wonderfully descriptive account of her favourite walk on the island of Unst which includes some photos and useful advice should you ever encounter an over protective bonxie…
‘I live in Lerwick in Shetland. My favourite walk is around the Hermaness National Nature Reserve on the island of Unst. Unst is the most northerly island in Shetland. It is a beautiful, wild island with lovely clean beaches, lochs for trout fishing, heritage centres, a replica Viking longship and lots of unspoilt countryside.
‘Hermaness is situated in the north of the island. The walk is signposted and you are asked to stay on the boardwalk or on the marked route to protect the fragile environment. The walk takes approximately 3 to 4 hours to complete.
‘When you first start walking it appears to be a barren landscape – bog and moor. If you look closely there are lots of colourful plants including orchids. There is a wonderful stretch of the path that is blanketed on either side by lush ferns. As you get nearer the cliffs you will see a colourful array of sea pinks.
‘The great skua (Shetland name bonxie) nest on the moors and you are sure to see them sitting on their nests as you walk along. They are very protective of their chicks and they will dive-bomb you if they think you are too close to their nest. It’s unusual for them to actually make contact and the best way to protect yourself is to wave your arms above your head. There are usually lots of birdwatchers on this stretch of the path with high-tech cameras and lenses watching and photographing these amazing birds.
‘When you get near the stunning cliffs the noise is overwhelming. Thousands of birds nest here – gannets, puffins, fulmars, guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes. You can often smell the birds before you see them because of the guano (bird droppings).
‘It is very relaxing to sit and watch the birds flying out to sea to catch fish for their young. The bonxie is a cheeky bird as it will sometimes swoop on a bird returning with fish and make the bird drop their meal and steal it for the bonxie chicks.
‘There are also sheep on Hermaness and they scale the high cliffs with such agility. It can be breathtaking to watch them descend a really steep cliff to get to a juicy patch of grass.
‘You will also see the Muckle Flugga lighthouse on your walk. This is the most northerly lighthouse in Scotland sitting out on a large rock. It was manned until 1995. It must have been a very lonely existence being a lighthouse keeper on such an isolated lighthouse and it was often cut off in the winter because of the gales.
‘You will usually meet lots of other walkers along the way but since Hermaness covers such a large area it is never congested. There is plenty room for everyone.
‘Sometimes it’s good to remember that there are great walks on your doorstep.’
Bev from Technip told us, ‘my favourite walk would have to be along Aberdeen beach on a Sunday morning. Whilst not the hottest city, the beach is beautiful, largely undeveloped and very clean. You can count the ships, watch the surfers, watch kids and families having fun, the antics of the loads of dogs that walk their owners down there, or just watch the world go by with a cup of tea outside one of the cafes. Bliss!’
Jac from NHS Tayside said, ‘my absolute favourite walk starts from my house and round the Benzil in Forfar. It is a beautiful country road with fantastic views of fields. There are cows and sheep and all sorts of birds flying around. It is the most peaceful place in the world especially on a spring night. There are short cuts we refer to as quarter Benzils, half Benzils and then the full Benzil takes you out to Lunanhead.’
Barbara Hanigan from NHS Highland’s ‘favourite walk is Ord Hill, near North Kessock. It is around a forest on the Black Isle, just over the Kessock Bridge with fantastic views to Inverness and also across the Black Isle to Fortrose and across to Fort George. There are two walks and one to the top to the vitrified fort. There are a couple of lovely places to sit and enjoy the views.’
Merriol from NHS Highland said, ‘my favourite walk so far has been from Ballachulish to Glencoe. Not a great distance, and all next to the road, also when I did it it was raining… a lot! So why was it my favourite walk? My 9 year old daughter was with me. She had finished school and knew I wanted to get some steps in so agreed to go with me. We set ourselves a challenge to look for a Geocache for the first time. Sadly we failed in finding it but we had a wonderful fun time spending some quality time together, AND it was my most steps to date!’
Ruth from VisitScotland wrote, ‘my favourite walk is a circular route from Kippford to Rockcliffe which are two of the prettiest villages in our region. It covers all terrains; road, muddy tracks and paths. You get fantastic views over the Solway, see fabulous yachts and sometimes highland cattle. Best views are from the Mote of Mark an ancient hill fort. You can also see Screel hill which if I was opting for a hill walk would also come out as a big favourite.’