Photographer Leejiah Dorward reflects on his epic journey to capture soaring seabirds at the far edge of the Shetland Islands

This photograph was taken at Hermaness National Nature Reserve near Muckle Flugga, the most northerly point of the British Isles. The journey to get here began 800 miles away in London and took a 14-hour bus trip, an overnight ferry and more than 100 miles of cycling through all that Shetland’s weather and landscape could throw at us.

Two friends and I had come here to see one of the UK’s most important seabird colonies. More than 100,000 birds a year come to breed on the 170m-high cliffs that tower over the Atlantic.

Leaning over the edge, all of my senses were assaulted; the wind buffeting my face – bringing with it the acrid stench of guano – the cacophony of noise erupting from the thousands of gannets perched on their nests below, and the sight of birds soaring on updrafts on their way to and from fishing expeditions out at sea. Watching these huge birds in the natural amphitheatre that the cliffs formed was reward enough for the many miles under our feet.

Cliffhanger by Leejiah Dorward

Leejiah Dorward is a conservation scientist who enjoys travelling, always with a camera by his side.