Monday, 12 April 2010
Temperatures have reached 20 degrees C in some parts of Scotland this weekend! That is very unseasonal! Though apparently there are still five ski runs still functioning in the Highlands (particularly the Cairngorms) and with the exceptional snow this winter they are hoping to continue well into May!
However the dry warm spell has brought some hazards. On the neighbouring island of Hoy there has been a heathland fire burning for the last 24 hours. Apparently the fire was stopped just short of Berriedale, which is "the most northerly piece of remnant native woodland in the British isles and Orkney's largest and most complete piece of native woodland." Quote by Jenny Taylor of Orkney Woodland Project from BBC website.
Apparently the fire has left a scar in the heather about a mile long. To make matters more difficult the ground is peat, which tends to smoulder away and often, even when the fire looks to be out, is still burning away under the heather.
Hoy does have fire-fighters on the island with equipment, and there are lochs and the sea to draw water from, as well as local folk volunteering to help with the fire but two fire teams were called out from Stromness on the Orkney Mainland today, as well as a fire tender and team from Kirkwall. Apparently even a helicopter was called upon to drop water onto the fire. One report said flames were up to 40 feet high at one point. The fire is reported as being out now, but a fire crew is on standby. As yet I've seen no photos of the scenes. At least it is early in the bird nesting season so ground nesting birds should not have lost any young chicks. The photo at the top of this post is of Rackwick Bay - though I think the fire was more to the left of this picture. But you can see the heather covered heathland across the top of the hills and gullies.