My final day. I was up quite early and had a strip wash and washed my hair in the toilet block. It’s very basic and there was only a cold tap, but at least there was no-one around so I was able to take advantage. Then I made a flask of coffee and packed up. I walked back to the pier in thick mist and arrived just after 9am. I had plenty of time before the ferry left at 9.30am, but had just missed seeing the ferry being lowered to the water. I could hear the whirring of the lift through the mist as I walked along the road, but of course could see nothing.
Once on the boat I went into the cabin and stayed there for the whole journey, reading and drinking coffee. It was much colder and windier than on the way out and I was the only passenger. Once we cleared the harbour it was really choppy. The boat was getting tossed all over the place. Brian came into the cabin and offered me a sick bag, but I said I didn’t think I’d need it. He was a bit sceptical, but seemed impressed when we arrived and I hadn’t needed it. I’m so glad I don’t get seasick as I can imagine how horrible that must be on a journey like this one.
Reflecting on my few days in Foula, I feel quite satisfied even though I didn’t see or do any of the things I wanted to. For starters, I now have a good reason to go back. But also, I feel like I saw the real Foula. It spends so much time shrouded in mist it wouldn’t have been the ‘real’ experience if I’d had great weather. Also it was so eerie and mystical with the mist, and also so peaceful and calming, that I felt really relaxed and content. People pay a fortune for spas and health breaks to get that kind of feeling, when all they need do is spend a few days living in a tiny tent with a load of sheep in a bog on a remote foggy island.
Here are a few Foula facts:
- Population – 30
- Location – 20 miles west of Shetland Mainland
- Length – 3.5 miles
- Width – 2.5 miles (at its widest)
- Area – 4.8 sqare miles
- Highest point – The Sneug 418m
- Shops – 0
- Pubs – 0
- Campsites – 0
- Public transport – 0
- Ferries – 1 every couple of days
- Flights – depends on fog
- Nurses – 1
- Teachers – 1
- Lighthouse keepers – 1
- Sheep – lots