Shetland Islands, Scotland (3) – Experience the beauty of the Isles!

We landed at 8:30 am at Sumburgh Airport. An early flight and a small plane made for an exciting morning. We hired a taxi to Lerwick Town Center and arrived in the pouring rain. Lerwick is a small town and, honestly, doesn’t seem to have a lot going on. I noticed that the landscape lacked trees on our drive and in the town center. No trees. The town center consists of boats and weathered stone buildings that show wear from the harsh climate and the saltwater. The people rushing about to escape the rain are all dressed in winter clothing with long puffy coats and wool hats. At the same longitude as Norway, we are at the top of the world.

Since it was early the shops were not open, but we found a warm and bright local “greasy spoon,” the New Harbour Cafe, that was jamming. We decided to have some breakfast. The diner pumped out breakfast and “take away” for the local bus drivers, construction workers, and kids off to school. My veggie breakfast consisted of baked beans, fried potatoes patty, veggie sausage, mushrooms, and a tomato. Yum!

Kit and Ewan are artists. Recently retired, Kit was a school teacher now a painter, and Ewan, a fisherman, turned woodcarver. I naively asked Ewan if their small boat was a fishing boat, and the blank look of bewilderment answered my question. Nope. Even though they speak English, I had a tough time understanding Ewan with his deep Scottish accent. He is a large man of little words. Kit was the talker of the family. Seeing the Shetland Islands via boat was a special treat. The weather was misty, cloudy, and calm — the black, craggy rock jets into the dark blue-gray sea. The cliffs were carpeted with faded colorful mosses and shrubbery and poke-a-dotted with sheep. 

Small islands made of lava-rock laid just offshore. Sheep graze on the deep green carpet of grass on the islands. How did the sheep get out there? The rock islands are also home to families of seals. Some seals darted into the sea when we buzzed by while others were more curious and approached the boat at a safe distance. We had lunch in Fethaland, the ruins of an old fishing station that dates back to the 15th century. Incredible! After returning to the harbor, we thanked Kit and Ewan and headed to Eshaness, which is known for its dramatic cliffs, scenery, and historical interest. Unfortunately, it’s completely socked in with fog! Oh well, 2 for 3, I think we are doing pretty well.

  1. The Shetland Museum & Archives – The Shetland Islands are rich in history, and the museum is a great way to explore and learn with great exhibits, archives, and educational reading. The restaurant upstairs serves lovely tea. 
  2.  By Car – Hit the road and see the sights on the Shetland Islands. The streets are so narrow, be sure to be polite and use the “passing place.”
  3. Julie would not stop talking about the Up Helly Aa Festival. It sounds like something I’m super bummed to miss, but maybe you can check it out on the last Tuesday of January.
  4. By Boat – Seabirds and Seals Tour has great reviews, and seeing the Islands via boat was magical.
  5. Sea Kayak Shetland in the summer for great photos of cliffs, birds, and seals.

Behind The Scenes

The stone architecture touched me. It’s so amazing how much history is in this part of the planet. I’m super grateful for the boat ride graciously offered up by Ewan & Kit. Kit’s excitment to get “on the boat” was contagious (a map of our tour is below). I was prepared to freeze on the boat ride , but with an added layer, I was super comfortable and able to get some photos. The low hanging clouds and dark blue water create a mood. Some magical spots. I was not super psyched with the food on the island. One evening, we decided to stay at home to cook and drink wine (loved it!), but until then, I was not thrilled with the food until we found the cool little Fjara Coffee Bar that served up some yummy fresh food.

Enjoy the Climb!