Originally part of
Shetland was gifted to
Scotland as part of a royal marriage in the 15th century. There are still many
Norse links, including the famous Up-Helly-Aa festival which takes place every year in
January and involves most of the islands' twenty thousand or so inhabitants. Shetland
is the most northerly part of the British Isles, it lies on the same latitude as
Oslo, and it has heavy involvement with the
Our trip to Shetland was the first family trip I had been on for four years, we went in
mid-November 2003. There was a group of 8 of us altogether and we were heading up to Lerwick
as part of the
Strollers Rugby Club jolly to the 125th anniversary celebration of
rugby in Shetland. One of the members of our group was none other than the
founder of the Sullom Voe oil terminal rugby team, the Shetland "Oil Blacks" (founded somewhat less
than 125 years ago). The trip was done in a weekend with a night on the boat both ways from
Aberdeen and a night in a hotel in Lerwick. A game was played on the Saturday which I was
duly called up for, and there was a dinner and a ceilidh with the Shetland rugby club that
In 2002 two new ferries were commisioned
for the 12 hour route between Aberdeen and Lerwick, the Hrossey and the Hjatland, old Norse
words for Orkney and Shetland respectively. The journey is an overnighter and thankfully
I had a cabin, as the swell as soon as we got out of Aberdeen harbour had people walking
very wobbily everywhere and plates sliding around in the canteen. I was very impressed
with the ships, and we had a look around the bridge and engine room on the way back.
Standing on the bridge looking out the front into the pitch black while we charged along
at 20 knots was a bit unnerving, I felt like saying "should you not have the headlights on?"
We were given a cheery welcome in Sheltand by an
old mannie and this sign when we arrived in Lerwick.
Downtown Lerwick was not the easiest place to
photograph, but I managed to get this nice shot from one of the quays up towards
the town centre and the Grand Hotel.
This is more representative of Lerwick, folks with
brollies and the bleak hills in the background. It is joked about that there are no trees
in Shetland, they're almost not wrong, as trees seemed to be a bit thin on the ground.
My Mum pointed out that at least half of the houses in Lerwick had fishing nets sitting
in their gardens. Was it some sort of cryptic affirmation of membership in a pagan island cult?
Was it so they could still catch fish if there was an unthinkable disaster at sea and all the
fishing boats sank? Or was it because these are the new garden gnomes?
Strangely, the populace must have thought at one stage that
land was at a premium in Lerwick, as this house has been plonked right in the sea. This house
must have some serious problems with damp, especially in their cellar.
We bought a postcard of southern Mainland Shetland,
and then visited all four sights on it, this was the first, a traditional croft on the
North Sea side, complete with thatched roof.
Part of the croft in the last photo was this interesting
wee hoose, where someone used to live. I saw another one like this with a skylight cut out
and a window fitted in the boat-roof.
This is Jarlshof, an iron age settlement at the very
southern tip of the mainland of Shetland, and not unlike Skara Brae in
Orkney. It is
built right next to Sumburgh airport which services the rigs and has helicopters thundering
in and out, which would no doubt surprise the residents. Who, as my Dad pointed out would
probably by Teletubbies by the looks of these grass-covered house mounds.
St Ninian's Isle which lies off the Atlantic coast
of the mainland is linked by a narrow neck of sand. With the ocean beating away at it on
both sides it's a wonder it stays in place. Buried treasure was found here by a schoolboy
in the 50s.
Scalloway is quite near Lerwick, on the other side of
the mainland, on the Atlantic Ocean. There is a point in the mainland up towards Sullom Voe
where the land necks to bring the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean to within 10 metres of
each other, barely more than the width of the road which goes between them.
One of the most beautiful parts of Shetland is the
sky, with glorious sunsets abounding. Here the rays are bathing the Atlantic with their last