Sunday, 27 June 2010

Calendar - June

This is the photograph on my calendar for June.  It was taken at the top of Ronas Hill in Shetland last summer. 

Ronas Hill is the highest point on Shetland at 450 metres. The day we walked up was a bright sunny day but even so it was cool and windy at the top. There is no clear path, we parked near the masts in the photo below and walked up towards the summit passing a cairn which marked the route.

The rocks are granite, large boulders and smaller pieces broken off by repeated freezing and thawing of the water in the rocks. The repeated freeze/thaw cycle can cause patches of earth to creep down hill, these are known as sliding terraces.

The plants at the front edge of the terrace are gradually smothered while those towards the back can then colonise the bare ground.

Amongst the plants that are able to survive on the hill are alpine species. This is Alpine Lady's Mantle

and two more that I haven't been able to identify.

Its amazing that the plants can grow in such a hostile environment with so little soil.

The views from the top were stunning. 

Most of the countryside around us has been changed by man's activity and this is no exception, crofters have lived here and their sheep have grazed these hills, peat has been cut for fuel and there are ancient tracks across the moors but the views from the summit still show an unspoilt wildness despite the sight of the huge Sulham Voe oil terminal in the next photo!

Two manmade structures do exist right on the top of the hill, a bronze age burial cairn and a trigonometrical point. The trig point is protected by a wall and in a box beside it is a visitors book and pen! We read through the entries and wrote our names, the most unusual and unexpected place I have ever signed a visitors book.

It has been so very hot here today, I wish I was back in Shetland right now but at least I can look at these photos and feel a bit cooler.

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