Daredevil Simon Brentford has described the moment he stood at the top of a 930-foot cliff in Foula – and leapt off.
“You have a feeling that you are at the edge of the world,” he said after looking out across the Atlantic Ocean from the Nebbifield cliffs.
The base jumper from Leeds has 3,900 skydives under his belt and strapped on a parachute on 17th April with pal Darren Strafford to take the plunge.
Simon, 40, had been planning the knee-trembling jump since 2012 but says there were “quite a few pieces in the puzzle” before it all came together.
He needed perfect weather, with a drop in the wind and a boat to take him from the Shetland Mainland. Darren was only given a few hours notice before the pair headed north in search of adventure.
The jump, Simon says is the most remote in the UK.
“There’s a whole range of emotions that go through your head and it starts days in advance. It alters my sleep dramatically before doing it.
“It’s like if you’re revising for an exam or you’re getting married it has been on your mind all the time.”
Simon did his first base jump – parachuting from a structure or cliff – in 2000 and remembers his first base jump clearly.
“I was very, very scared because that really was my entry into a new sport, so stepping off into a world of the unknown.”
Each jump has to be taken on its own merits and some are easier than others. The Foula jump was more tricky – logistically and safety-wise with tricky, rocky landing areas.
Every time he stands on the edge of a cliff he is aware of the risk, in the same way as in skiing, for example, there’s a chance of an accident.
But he says he and Darren do a lot of preparation and planning to make sure the jumps go smoothly.
Since being a teenager he has loved looking at maps and was intrigued by the far-flung islands of the British Isles – what they looked like and what the people were like.
Base jumping gave him the opportunity to come and visit Shetland.
“What a great way to come and see the Shetland Islands, that’s the way I see it.”
“[With] the actual jump itself you get yourself into a zone and that zone happens as I’m putting my parachute on and you get into a place of concentration, high alertness, but also calmness as well.”
• More in Friday’s Shetland Times.