Happy New Year!

by Elizabeth Atia -

Happy New Year from the highest point in Shetland!

I just wanted to take this opportunity to wish you all a fantastic new year and I hope 2016 is the best year for you yet!

The winter gales subsided briefly on New Year's Day here in Shetland, and the sun even came out! I took this opportunity to start the new year as I mean to go on - with a grand adventure!

Packing a rucksack of provisions (and plenty of warm layers against the bitter cold!) I finally managed to reach the summit of Ronas Hill, Shetland's highest hill, a marilyn standing at 450 metres. I've called Shetland home for nearly 17 years now and I had never yet before managed to reach the summit, and it wasn't for lack of trying.

My biggest hurdle was that I didn't want to climb the hill by myself. Weather conditions can be so changeable up there that I was nervous to attempt it by myself, and a group camping trip last year resulted in us only reaching Mid Field (pictured below) before the clouds came in.

But on the 1st of January 2016 I did it, and I did it by myself!

It took me an hour exactly to reach the top, with brief rest breaks sheltering by the cairns on Roga Field and Mid Field. I checked in regularly with my husband at home (who might have been nursing the indulgences of the night prior) with my mobile - five bars at the top of Ronas Hill! Best reception in Shetland, I reckon!

I might have whooped once or twice as I reached the top too, with the cold winter sun shining down on me and the bitterly cold wind in my face.

What a view! Photographs don't do it justice. I could see the lighthouse at Eshaness to the west, the Out Skerries to the east and as far north as Unst. The sun was to the south and I couldn't see much for the brightness, but the whole experience was exhilarating.

At the top of Ronas Hill you'll find a Neolithic cairn with an entrance big enough to crawl into. There's also an Ordinance Survey trig point surrounded in a low stone wall - a perfect place to shelter from the wind and have a spot of lunch.

Because I'm properly nosy, I had a look around and spotted, behind the trig point, a large metal container. In it - a log book!

I signed it, of course, and had a look at many of the previous entries.

My trek up the hill occured 12 hours after Sandy Peterson reached the summit to bring in the new year, having spent the previous 24 hours travelling, on foot, from Market House in Lerwick. He was raising funds for Disability Shetland. You can read more about his trek here and you can support his fundraising here.

So what adventures do you have planned for 2016?!

Happy New Year!