The wikipedia article for the Shetland Islands starts with the phrase “Shetland is a subarctic archipelago” and my journey back to Shetland over the the last few days certainly didn’t give me any reason to challenge that.
When I booked the trip the Met Office suggested that the worst of the weather would be at the start of the week and that by Friday when I was planning to do most of the drive north to Aberdeen the snow would be past and the roads OK. By the time I started on the journey that optimism had slipped to a “Yellow Snow” warning. I have always been suspicious of yellow snow.
By the time I was on the M6 (getting a few hours sleep in the Travelodge at the Knutsford Services) there was an “Amber Snow” warning for most of Scotland and the radio stations were cheerfully reminding us that several hundred drivers had been trapped on the M74 (just north of the border) earlier in the week.
I tend to mostly regard “Yellow” warnings with a bit of a shrug, but I do pay attention to the “Amber” ones. In this case it looked to me as if the real Amber-ness was going to be later in the day so I headed straight for the car and (after forcing the frozen doors open and hacking the ice off the windscreen - it’s bleak in Knutsford) I headed north. Up to the border was uneventful (albeit pretty!) and I’d started to get to the point of thinking that the weather wasn’t going to feature.
|Tebay Services - ideal picnic spot|
Over the border, however, the clouds started to offer a few flurries then some serious sleet - by time that Stirling appeared on the signposts the snow had reached 10/10 on the #uksnow index.
At this point I was starting to contemplate pulling over and calling to rearrange my ferry crossing - and when a passing lorry managed to dump so much slush onto my windscreen that the wipers briefly gave up trying, if there had been somewhere to stop I might have done so. After that I just kept trundling northeastward past Stirling towards Perth. By time I got to Perth the skies had cleared and the blizzard had slipped from memory. I’m guessing that the decision to get going early was a good one - a couple of hours later would probably have ensured that roads were impassable.
|The Calm off the Aberdeen Coast|
While most of southern Scotland had submerged under a snowdrift, Aberdeen was still and calm - and the 12 hour ferry from Aberdeen to Lerwick was as smooth as I can recall.
Early Saturday morning on Shetland generally isn’t very busy - it’s a fine time to stock up at Tescos - and a couple of inches of fresh snow made everything even quieter. The temperature was down to around -3C on the higher ground, but down at the south end of Shetland it was just about freezing and there was just enough snow to qualify as picturesque.
|Snowy Shetland Saturday|
|Snow on Fitful Head|
The forecast for the next few days suggests that were going to get the Ws - windier, wetter and warmer. If I had any say in the matter I’d stick with the Cs - cold, calm, clear.
In the meantime, I should probably do something about the fence that got dislodged by the last big storm to pass through.