Fair Isle Scotland – The Prelude

  Wikipedia  Wikipedia

What’s that old saying, “Mamma don’t let you babies grow up to be Cowboy’s”, well let’s add “Don’t let your Photographer’s become travel agents”. Well at least not this one.

It all started out innocently enough, an email blast with an “unbelievable” airfare from Seattle to Edinburgh. My mind quickly went to rolling Scottish hills, cool, okay miserable, but photographic weather and maybe even a wee pint or two of a “proper” dark beverage.

But as it turns out I’m neither going to Edinburgh or starting my transatlantic trip from Seattle. I’m going to Fair Isle Scotland. And it should be amazing if I ever actually get there.

I had never before heard of Fair Isle Scotland so how did a simple Edinburgh marketing email blast become the most convoluted travel itinerary ever? Lighthouses! I love lighthouses. Especially cool old ones on wind swept coasts. So, I innocently started plotting Scottish Lighthouses on my google maps and worked my way north into the Orkney Islands and then the Shetlands. I even managed to miss Fair Isle on this first pass. But then as I start looking for ways to get to the Shetland Islands I stumbled onto an island whose journey would see my crazy and mightily raise it to the next level.

See, Fair Isle has two glorious Lighthouses, including the one where I’ll be staying. And it’s small and quiet. No rental cars, no traffic, no bustling tourists,  just exploring, photographing and getting to know this lovely island. And of course an amazing Scottish county side with a stunning coast line.

But first, I gotta get there. And therein lies the rub. It’s gonna be a slog and it’s no short trip even if you know what you’re doing. Which I most certainly did not.

Note: To be fair, some of this apparent craziness had to do with using hard to get frequent flyer tickets and a “nice” reschedule by Alaska Airlines to add 12 hours to my journey.


Departure: 6:00am on 25 Aug 2018

Arrival: Approximately 2:30pm on 27 Aug 2018 (Duration approximately 48hrs)

We’ll deal with the homeward journey in another post. Hopefully after 7 glorious nights lodging at the South Light – Fair Isle I’ll have mustered up the fortitude to make the return journey.

So let’s pause from that 911 call you’re making to do the math: (2) Cars, (3) Ferries, (3) Shuttles, (3) Flights and (2) Buses. All told that’s just over 48 hours of travelling to reach the middle of nowhere.

Okay, I imagine about know you’re thinking WTF. He could have done … Or maybe … But anything would be better than that. So let’s just clear something up right quick. I embraced the Awareness step of my 12 step crazy program years ago and am firmly in the Acceptance stage. But I will admit to taking crazy (okay insanity) to a high level on this trip. But just for the sake of explanation, okay rationalization, let’s look at, and rate MY enjoyment from each part of this ridiculous travel itinerary. Yes, in spite of the hassle that travel has become, I still do enjoy it. Well most of it anyway.

The Crazy Journy

  • Short Car Rides with Miss Laura to the Lopez Ferry Terminal – Ah, a perfect way to start a trip. This one’s a 10
  • Washington State Ferry Ride – Never in my 20 years of living on Lopez Island have I tired of our wonder ferry system. In fact I love riding on them. So let’s call his a 9. Looks like I’m off to a great start to this trip.
  • Bellair Shuttle – Okay, I hate this part. I won’t go into the many reasons why but I’ll be holding my nose on this one and be very glad when this shuttle ride is over. I rate this a 1.
  • Alaska Airlines – I still, believe it or not, love flying. And I do, mostly, love our hometown airline. Although I have to add that it might be time for us to start seeing other people. This trip they “rescheduled” my red eye flight to a noon time flight and added 12 hours and a hotel stay in Houston. In the past I’d have always rated Alaska Airlines and 8 or a 9. But now, for me, they’re a 6 or a 7 and I think we’re gonna stop pursuing their elite status.
  • British Airways – I don’t think I’ve ever flown on this airline. And if I have it’s been a while. But I used miles (remember, that’s ONE of the reasons this trip is so crazy) and snagged a premium economy seat so I’m optimistic that this could be good. Famous last words I know.
  • Northlink Ferries – Don’t know a thing about this ride. But I love ferries in general and I’m an optimist.
  • Good Shepherd IV Fair Isle Ferry – Okay, I could end up regretting this one, but I couldn’t pass up taking this small ferry ride to Fair Isle. There is a very, very good chance that this e-ticket ride could provide me with my first sea-sickness experience.

But here’s the thing, I find easy rather boring. And often crowded. So part of the allure to this trip were the challenges and difficulties. We can chat when / if I make it back home to see if I still possess that conviction. But it will definitely be a grand adventure.

And before I sign off on this post, a brief chat about the weather. This ain’t gonna be a trip to the Bahamas. In fact it’s looks to make the Pacific Northwest weather seem tropical.

  Wikipedia  Wikipedia

But what’s that saying I love so much? Oh, yeah.

Bad Weather Equals Great PHOTOGRAPHY

Well that’s what THEY say anyways. More to come…

6 thoughts on “Fair Isle Scotland – The Prelude

Add yours

  1. What a wonderful trip and spoil us with amazing photos of this wild outpost. With a Scottish father and having been raised in England, I envy you. Love the Shetlands and all their raw beauty. Yes, the ferry crossings can be rough but much better today than in years past when I ventured north.


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