A woman who moved to Shetland after falling in love with the islands during a holiday is undertaking her own single-handed redd-up of rubbish from the roadsides from Voe to Lerwick.
“Gloriously retired” Cecilia James decided to flit from Devon to Sweening a couple of years ago after a wildlife photography trip.
She has already taken to cleaning up the car park at the Vidlin junction and the single-track road near where she lives. But a recent letter in The Shetland Times from a Yorkshire tourist has prompted her to tackle a much bigger task. Robert Gibson wrote to complain about ditches festooned with bottles, cans and food packaging, which was not a fine site for passing cyclists like him.
Cecilia said the mess is particularly bad on the road to Lerwick. “Shetland is so beautiful and I find it really depressing whenever I’m driving anywhere to see litter that’s obviously been chucked out of cars,” she said on Tuesday.
The next morning the former sick children’s hospital teacher zipped up her high-visibility yellow jacket from the council’s roads department and began bagging litter from both sides of the road, starting at the north end of the Lang Kames. Her plan is to do about a mile a day, although she’s not going to be rigid about it. With about 18 miles to do until she reaches the boundary signs for Lerwick it could take her several weeks.
She is not really bothered about recruiting helpers because she enjoys the peace and does not want to be responsible for the safety of others. “It’s a very healthy activity,” she said. “And there’s plenty of time to think.”
Her plan is to collect all the bags and keep them near her house so she can see just how much there is out there. When she spoke to the newspaper she was not sure whether she was going to scrape up the roadkill she finds too and keep it to show the scale of carnage on one of Shetland’s busiest roads. “If it’s getting too ghastly I might stop that,” she said.
Of course, there is a danger that she might be getting herself into something she just can’t stop. “Yes, I might have to do it annually – you never know,” she said. “It’s really pleasing to see it clean after you’ve done a stretch. I know two or three days afterwards someone has probably thrown a Tennent’s can but it will be nice to get it all clean though.”