Severe gale force winds caused damage and disruption to national and local ferry services and flights today - and destroyed a caravan in the Skerries.

Shetland experienced the highest winds in the UK, with 81mph gusts recorded in Foula, 73mph in Lerwick and 69mph in Fair Isle.
© Unknown
Christopher Hay's flattened caravan in Skerries.

NorthLink's sailings were delayed or cancelled and there were no inter-island ferries on some routes. There were no ferries on Bressay or Bluemull Sounds or to Whalsay in the morning, and the Yell Sound service was down to a single ferry. Normal service resumed on these routes in the afternoon, although the Skerries service was off all day.

The reduction followed the strike yesterday when there were no ferries at all.

Flights to and from Sumburgh were also disrupted, with the early morning flight from Aberdeen and the 12.15pm departure to the city both cancelled.

No activity took place at all at Scatsta airport as the wind speed and sea state were outwith operating limits. All 18 daily helicopter flights were cancelled and there were no fixed wing flights either.

The wind prompted many calls to the emergency services, with Lerwick police dealing with 52 in 48 hours. They were called to clear debris from near the Queen's Hotel early this morning, and the fire service was called out twice. They secured unsafe windows and masonry at the former Judane knitwear factory in the town, where firefighters tied a rope round the central pillar of a window and secured it to a pillar inside the building to made the area safe.

Earlier they were called to a house in Lerwick's Arheim where a trampoline was in danger of blowing away. The owners could not hold it down and firefighters dismantled it.

Meanwhile Christopher Hay's caravan in Skerries was flattened. He said his brother had gone outside to check on the caravan and it was "completely gone, blown over and absolutely nothing left". Christopher bought the caravan a few years ago with the intention of doing it up. The gales yesterday morning put a permanent end to that aspiration.

The problems followed a day of disruption on the North boats on Wednesday, when the Hjaltland left Lerwick at 2pm due to the poor weather conditions and arrived into Aberdeen at 9.15am.

Although the northbound Hrossey left Aberdeen on time at 7pm on Wednesday, she only arrived into Lerwick at 2.30pm yesterday. Normal service on both the passenger and freight services will resume this evening.

Fair Isle weatherman Dave Wheeler said the F9-10 winds had been stronger than expected in Shetland. The brunt of the severe gales had been expected in Fair Isle and Orkney, he said, instead of which the system tracked further north. The gales moderated in the afternoon with winds reaching a mere 50-60mph.