I went to sleep

I was about to write my blog this afternoon, when this incredible wave of tiredness came over me and I found myself, a few hours later, snuggled up in a blanket, asleep on my bed.  Ooops.  So apologies for te lateness of my blog.  Also BeAnne is not well. She has an upper respiratory tract infection which is scaring me witless.  I Googled her symptoms to find she had a probable brain tumour.  Luckily Jack, our other Patterdale terrier, also has the same symptoms (sneezing and saying chuff all the time) so I have discounted my brain tumour theory.  The vet has prescribed antibiotics so hopefully they will be on the mend now. Phew!

Anywho, before I went to sleep, I dragged my sorry arse down to the roadside make-my-millions egg shop and back with the dogs, which is about as far as I can walk these days.


I have done this walk once or twice a day for 14 years and my surroundings are historically very interesting but little heard of.


I live next to RAF Watness camp.


RAF Watness was one of the Chain Home Low (CHL) radar stations built in 1942, I believe. This was the name of a British radar early warning system, detecting enemy aircraft movement at lower altitidues than and summarily used with the fixed Chain Home system which was operated by the RAF during WW2. – Wikipedia 


Nothing much remains now. It was demolished after the war but we are left with the foundations and the odd indication of building location and size.  Apparently everyone local was made to sign the Official Secrets Act and, when the site was up for demolition, many of the buildings “vanished” the day before.  I think we have one in our garden!  It is the odd shaped rusty old Nissan hut.


I found this on the Royal Commission for Ancient and Historical Monuments of Shetland – This Chain Home Low radar station is situated on the summit of Virtag, W of the road from Mid Walls to Netherdale. The radar station consists of a series of brick and concrete buildings including an engine house and light anti-aircraft positions.


The site was demolished badly and left in a dangerous state in my opinion.  Neighbours have tried to fill the potential death-traps and I once saw The World’s Fattest Orange Cat pop his head up from a tunnel entrance.  He looked like Sooty.  Haakon nearly sat down in fear and I nearly pee’ed myself laughing!   I remember we were coming home from a long trek and it was the last thing we were expecting.


Half of me wishes this site had been documented properly (apparently there was even a cinema and tunnels, ooooh tunnels!) and the other half of me wishes they had demolished it properly as it really is an accident waiting to happen.


I would like to find out more about the buildings that were on site and around my house, even map them out properly but I cannot find any information.  Apparently,  the RAF brought with them thousands of rats. There are very few rats in Shetland and they rarely come this far away from the main ports.  When the RAF left, so did the rats.  BeAnne would’ve loved a rat!


My horses and I have lived with this “rubble” for many years. We share it with the sheep. We have found two grenades to date.  One was exploded here (the Bomb Disposal Unit hurried up from the mainland on the boat to explode it in Clothie) and I can’t remember what we did with the other one!  It all sounds a bit Captain Mainwaring and Dad’s Army now.


It would seem odd if this rubble was all taken away properly but I think it is wasted in its current state.   RAF Watsness played its part in Shetland’s war history and there is little, if no, evidence to show this.


6 thoughts on “I went to sleep

  1. Yvonne

    LOL I so love your logic – it’s only sensible to start with the worst – a brain tumour – and work backward 🙂 Hope BeAnne is feeling better.

  2. Gordon Carle

    I read this piece of your blog with great interest and at some time in the future may pester you regarding access to photos. For about 4 years I have been writing a bog about radar on Unst – Saxa Vord in particular. In the process I have amassed a large amount of data, photos & operational records for all of the Shetland Radar sites, including Wats Ness. Until I got started I didn’t realise how many radar sites there were on Shetland. Apart from Wats Ness & Unst – Clett on Whalsay, Sumburgh, Grutness, Noss Hill south of Spiggie & Scousbrough spring to mind.
    At the moment I can’t give you a long explanation of your site, the data is not coordinated – will be involved with RAF Skaw on Unst for the next year and a half I think. If you have any specific questions I’ll do my best to provide an answer. As a last note – Wats Ness was an “above ground” site – the bunkers are almost certainly semi-underground air-raid shelters.

    1. Frances Post author

      Thank you Gordon. I would be very interested in any photos you have of Wats Ness. Cheers Frances (frances@fstaylor.co.uk)

  3. mark avons

    Gordons correct,CHLs were exclusively above ground and the undergroundbunkers semi sunk air raid shelters.This is a similar site

    the square hole with a ladder going down could be for cables but usually for pumping equipment.there was usually a domestic (living quarters site) site outside the main ops site and this often did have a cinema.
    “when the site was up for demolition, many of the buildings “vanished” the day before. ” in the case of the sites in england they were usually auctioned off but at,at least one site the buildings were simply given away.Generators and coal had a habit of vanishing just before derequisition

    Best Regards
    (occasional visitor to shetland)


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