The sunny and warm weather brought the crowds out at the weekend for Shetland’s food extravaganza on the pier, the midsummer carnival and the start of the third leg of the Shetland to Bergen yacht race.
Despite feeling much warmer, the temperature in Lerwick on Sunday reached 19C, according to Dave Wheeler of the Fair Isle weather station. Elsewhere in Shetland it was over 20C, but no records were broken. Lerwick was the sunniest place in Britain on Saturday with 15 hours.
The glorious weather is set to continue until Thursday, with much of the rest of Britain poised for very high temperatures.
There were 38,000 visitors to the Flavour of Shetland event on Victoria pier in Lerwick over the four days. On Friday there were 11,000 and on Saturday 16,000.
Organiser Nicola Halcrow said the event had been a huge success, with the only problem being the sheer number of folk. A one-in, one-out policy had to be introduced during the busiest times on Friday and Saturday nights.
Nicola said: “We’re absolutely delighted with how this year’s event has gone. The weather has been exceptional and played a huge part in creating the fantastic atmosphere around the site over the four days.
“The formula Flavour of Shetland attracts people of all ages and is a great way of showcasing all that’s good about Shetland. There are ways in which we would like to develop and vary the event but without a bigger site it’s almost impossible.
“I would like to thank everybody who has visited and supported the event this year, and special thanks has to go to all those who worked at the event and helped bring it all together.”
Hundreds of people turned out to see the annual midsummer carnival in aid of the Callum Younger Reach Fund.
Around 14 floats took part, together with the brass band and Jarls’ squads from around Shetland, emergency service vehicles and horses, creating a festive feel throughout the town.
The massed ranks of the five Jarls’ squads from Nesting, Brae, Bressay, Lerwick and Cullivoe impressed the many tourists (as well as locals) who had gathered in the town centre roads, while a big American fire engine from Sullom Voe, never normally seen outwith the terminal, delighted the youngsters.
Then there was a Chinese dragon and a pony and gig “going to the races”, with Helen Thomson from the Ness waving regally.
Colourful floats with live or recorded music sported a range of themes from Loch Ness to Bollywood. There were guitar heroes, pirates, the Simpsons, Santas in Christmasconfused.com and line dancers on a ranch.
The winning float was “Osla’s move to Gulberwick”, a scene of the interior of a Shetland croft house, with people in woolly hats and tank tops sitting knitting which was inspired by an Eddie Barclay song.
The spectacle was complemented by the appearance of summer princesses from Sound and Bell’s Brae Primary schools.
The fun atmosphere encouraged everyone to throw money and the foot collectors, some of them bairns dressed as jelly fish under huge umbrellas, did a sterling job rattling buckets to get the cash flowing.
The festival was revived in 2007 by Malcolm Younger, with proceeds going to the Callum Younger Reach Fund, set up in memory of Mr Younger’s son.
Mr Younger said the money, all in loose coins, will take “days” to count and is being done by retired staff from the Bank of Scotland.
He said of the event: “Everything went fantastically well and I’m overwhelmed by the support from participants.”
Meanwhile, the return leg of the yacht race got off to a very slow start on Sunday morning, with light winds meaning the boats made little progress early on.
The fine weather eventually put paid to Lerwick businessman Leslie Irvine”s attempt to complete the 1000 Mile Race in his new yacht, Vandal.
He and Robbie Bruce, who had replaced Andrew Wood as crewman for the last leg, were forced to pull out because of the painfully slow progress they were making towards the finishing point.
They to turned back towards Shetland early on Monday morning after taking 20 hours to cover the first 50 miles of the journey. More favourable conditions might have seen the vessel sail 140 miles in that time.
“We just sailed into a big hole,” said Mr Irvine, who owns Irvine Contractors. “I was looking at the weather forecast on the computer, and we couldn’t find a way of being there in time for the end of the race.”
“Because of the light winds they gave us an extra 20 hours to get there, but even given that there was no way we could get there in time.
“We got 50 miles off Shetland in 20 hours. Sometimes we’d get a bit of wind, but there were too many hours to make up.”
Mr Irvine said most of the yachts had succumbed to the same fate, and had pulled out of the race before they could reach the finishing line in Bergen.
Vandal had made good progress throughout the race’s earlier stages. She came third into Bergen from Holland in the first leg of the event, and arrived in fourth place in her class in the Bergen to Shetland stage.