Isles Views

More Unst angling

After the highly successful Simmer Dim trout fishing competition Unst Anglers’ Club held a sea-angling contest.

Nine boats carried 14 senior and three junior anglers to sea for the second points competition of the season. Conditions were perfect with a light easterly wind and calm seas.

However, with a strong tide running catches were light. The exception to this was the two boats that came on the herring west of Muckle Flugga. Colin Laurenson won with 80lb and second was Lindsay Thomson with 79lb, leaving Andy Jamieson third with 71lb. Mark Ferguson won the junior competition with 17lb.

The herring caught were of superb quality and at the end of the weigh in there was a search through the catch to find the biggest of them. The Shetland record for herring stood at 11oz and four drams (319 grams) but there were numerous fish that topped this. The new Shetland record is now 13oz (370 grams).

Stewart Ferguson now holds the Shetland junior record with a herring that weighed 8oz (240 grams). The senior record has stood since 1981 and the fish in question was caught off Unst by Squadron Leader Collenette. The junior record is more recent – Robert Gray caught a 6oz and 14 drams (195 grams) herring in 2006.

For some the highlight of the evening was the appearance of a huge pod of white-sided dolphins. Leslie Stickle and his boat partner saw them one mile east of the Holm of Skaw. They were spread from near the shore and as far out as they could see.

Dolphins swim fast but even so it took them around 15 minutes to pass. Lindsay Thomson says that there was so many of them that it was impossible to make any count. There were many hundreds, perhaps more than a thousand.

Weaving record attempt

There is going to be an attempt to set a PURE Shetland record at Unstfest this year for weaving. Bolts of Jamieson’s woven cloth will be used, and people as a loom to cover part of the Unst Leisure Centre floor in the quickest possible time.

The record attempt is on Tuesday and starts at 9.45am with registration and, at 10am, a drumming workshop taken by Joy Duncan. People will learn a simple rhythm to help in the record attempt. At 10.45am participants will be taught how to do the moves for the weaving and there will be a rehearsal. The record attempt itself will be from 11.30am until noon.

Anyone can join in but please be aware that under-14s need to be accompanied by an adult because to take part in the weave there is lifting involved.
There are also opportunities to volunteer for drumming, shouting out instructions, photographing as well as lifting and lowering cloth to make a warp and running across with cloth as wefts.

There is no charge for this event but please bring along something to eat and drink and wear loose comfortable clothing.

Even if you do not want to take part please come along to support the record attempt. For more details and to volunteer contact Andy Ross on (01957) 744355. People can leave a message if he is not in or send an e-mail to

Belmont House restoration

Work is continuing to restore the interior of Belmont House in Unst to meet the completion date of June 2010. Much has been done this year; all the “first fix” services are now in place with water, drainage, heating pipes, electrical and phone cables carefully and unobtrusively installed within the existing structure.

The floors are being repaired, damaged plaster taken down and the original lathe re-fixed to the stone walls. Where it is too badly decayed it has been replaced with new lathe. Floors have been sound proofed and sheep’s wool insulation has been inserted where this is possible.

The restoration process is covering up some of the amazing work done by the restorers. The highly-skilled craftsmanship of splicing new timber into the old floor joists can no longer be seen. The lathe will all be covered and the original roof timbers (numbered using Roman numerals) have vanished above the newly boarded attic ceilings.

Many decisions have been made and they have to be a balance between retaining the original features and ensuring that the house has all the facilities expected of the 21st century. It was decided to install a modern bathroom, after all there is no Georgian bathroom to copy, and there has to be enough hot water to provide showers and baths for 12 people.

The workmanship by the North Isles squad of Shetland Amenity Trust and their sub-contractors continues to be of the best quality with the craftsman taking great pride in their work and having a fondness for Belmont House.

With work on the house well under way the trust has turned its attention to the restoration of the garden with definite plans carefully drawn up. Among the flowers are the old daffodils which have survived decades of sheep but they are overcrowded and need thinning out and replanting.

The Belmont Trust would welcome volunteers to help with the work in the garden and this weekend, Saturday and Sunday 10am until 4pm each day, has been set aside for this. Anyone who would like to help should phone (01595) 820281. Volunteers should bring boots, waterproofs and gloves but a light lunch will be provided.

Also this weekend Belmont is a location for an “Art in the Environment” event by members of the artists’ group Veer North. Some artists may use the grounds at Belmont as a location to work and visitors are welcome to come and meet them and discuss their work.

Unstfest begins

The UnstFest began yesterday and will go on until 19th July.

Fullscellidh Spelemannslag are playing tonight in the Haroldswick Hall and tomorrow at noon they will play for the world’s biggest palais glide attempt.

Everyone is invited to be there to help this attempt to set a new record and enjoy the splendid music.

Tomorrow also features the Alan Nicolson Band in the Uyeasound Hall and on Sunday you can book a place at the Viking feast in the Haroldswick Hall.

The organisers say that there is something to do all day every day during the festival so look out for the posters. For more information or to book on any of the events phone (01957) 711838.

Powerdown through the post

The inhabitants of Unst will soon receive a survey by post. The survey has been designed by Shell Step student Bobby Macaulay in partnership with Community Powerdown officer Mike Smith and Steven Coutts of the Energy Saving Scotland Advice Centre to identify the energy efficiency of Unst households, the percentage of households living in fuel poverty and the actions required to save the householder money.

Bobby is employed by Unst Partnership, in collaboration with Train Shetland, for eight weeks of the summer. He will collate the information and produce a final report detailing what can be done to reduce energy wastage and save money. The report will also give Bobby the chance to win £250 for the best project in the UK.

The Community Powerdown Project is one of 27 throughout Scotland funded by the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund. The aim is to encourage change in the way that communities use energy and to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels.

Powerdown officer Mike Smith has a number of energy saving projects under development and, among other things, the survey will gauge the level of interest within the community for energy reduction.

Included in this survey is information from the Shetland Amenity Trust’s Carbon Footprint Reduction Scheme. They are offering energy metres and low energy light bulbs. Also in the mailshot are Shetland Islands Council’s waste services team’s leaflet concerning composting and their recycling facilities.

All surveys filled in and promptly returned will be entered into a draw to win an “A” energy-rated kitchen appliance supplied by George Robertson, electrical goods retailer of Lerwick. Bobby Macaulay and Mike Smith would therefore urge all recipients to complete the form and send it back quickly.

Latest exhibition

Knitted and felted arts by Liz Gott and Pauline Walsh is the latest exhibition at the Old Haa.

Liz translates her interests in knitting and geography into landscape pictures and Pauline is an established contemporary felt maker of scarves and individually made accessories.


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