GUIDE TO THE BURN OF VOXTER
NAME OF RIVER: Burn of Voxter (also known as Burn of Laxdale)
WHERE IS IT?: Cunningsburgh, Shetland.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: The main Sumburgh-Lerwick road crosses the burn at the northern end of the village of Cunningsburgh. Just north of the bridge (well, more of a culvert really) a track runs past a glass-crushing plant and follows the burn up into the hills. Follow this and put on where you fancy.
Take out at the bridge beside Aith Voe.
APPROX LENGTH: 2 km.
TIME NEEDED: 1 hours.
ACCESS HASSLES: The proprietor of the Cunningsburgh shop may shout abuse if he sees you but otherwise no-ones likely to care.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Theres a gauge on the upstream side of the main road bridge (culvert). At 5 on the gauge, the the run will be a bit of a bump and scrape, but its just possible to get under the obstacles in the lower reaches. More water will definitely make the ravine more fun but the obstacles become potentially lethal.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Low bridges, pipes and barbed wire fences.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Another small Shetland burn that is only possible after heavy rain. The first worthwhile rapid is a rocky cascade just upstream of a farm shed beside the burn. There is a short stretch of fast water above this if you need a warm up, but two interesting-looking falls further upstream are spoiled by being quickly followed by first a culvert, whose pipes are exactly the right size to take a boat (but not the occupant), and a single strand of barbed wire just above water level.
For 300 metres below the shed the burn is a big, fast-flowing ditch that winds through moorland to the main road. In a big flood there wont be much headroom inside the road culvert (in fact it has been known to fill to the top) so check it before you put on. Below the culvert the burn soon drops into the most entertaining stretch - Mr Yannis Gorge: a small ravine with almost continuous bed-rock chutes and small ledges. The gradient then eases again, marking the approach to a footbridge and ford. Look out for two strands of barbed wire crossing the burn just before the bridge and a third one just after the ford.
The burn now runs quickly but smoothly in a deep channel through farmland until a house appears on the bank dead ahead. Get out here to inspect, as a tight, twisting chute on a blind right-hand corner is followed immediately by an iron girder bridge. A little further on a pipe crosses the burn just below another potentially entertaining drop. Both obstacles are roughly at chest height and just about negotiable at a low flood level but in these conditions the two drops are just rocky scrapes. In a big flood they look great fun but probably not worth the risk of death.
Below this is basically another high speed ditch to the take out and the sea beyond.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Jonathon Swale.