If Orkney is full of historical mysteries, then surely Shetland is the place for the drama. “Nature” wrote one visitor, “appears in her wildest dress” in these, Britain’s most northerly islands, and it is indeed the wildness and grandeur of the Shetland landscapes and seascapes which inevitably become the visitors most enduring memory.
There are more than 100 islands here, each forged by the roaring surging waves of the North Atlantic. Everywhere one goes, there are dramatic cliffs, perfect deserted contemplative beaches, huge vistas across awe-inspiring voes and inlets, and above, the evocative cry of seabirds. Sunrises and sunsets in Shetland are spectacular.
We had a brilliant few days on the island of Unst and were more than a little surprised by the huge amount of things to see! Unst is the most northerly inhabited island in the UK, and there are amazing castles, Viking houses, a replica longship, standing stones, rare plants, lovely beaches, amazing cliffs and even colourful bus shelters to visit!
There's lots on in Shetland during September 2017 including Screenplay, the ‘Follow the Vikings’ Festival in Unst, the Taste of Shetland Food Festival and Shetland Wool Week! Read our what's on guide so that you don't miss a thing!
We've been told that our previous guides to the less well known, but just as lovely, highlights of Shetland have been helpful for frequent visitors looking for something different to do! So we've written another guide, with ten more brilliant places to go in Shetland that are less well known than Sumburgh Head and St Ninian's Isle.
Shetlanders have always had a close relationship with the sea as a source of food, transport, trade and a way to escape the poverty of the croft. However, one period of history involving Shetlanders and the sea stands out. This was the Haaf fishing, which took place between 1750 and 1900 and involved spending 2-3 days at sea in big, open wooden boats, sailing up to 40 miles out to the fishing grounds!
If you're visiting Shetland then why not take a look at our comprehensive guide to the islands to help you plan your trip? You'll find useful info, fascinating facts and some helpful tips!
If you're spending a few days in Shetland then we'd strongly recommend taking the ferry over to the island of Mousa. On this uninhabited island you'll see an amazing Iron Age broch, which is nearly completely intact. We took a picnic over to the island and had a brilliant family day out, seeing birds, seals and archaeological treasures!
For a super day out in Shetland we would recommend a drive up to see the amazing cliff scenery at Eshaness along with a stop at the Tangwick Haa Museum. On our visit we received a warm welcome and thoroughly enjoyed learning about what life was like for folk who lived in the area in the past. Ruby Brown offers us a fascinating insight into this wonderful building!
If you only visit one archaeological site in Shetland, then it has to be Jarlshof. Located on the south tip of Shetland, this site was occupied for 4000 years and contains buildings from many different time periods. We've gathered some fascinating facts about Jarlshof over the ages.
Shetland has a fascinating history and a unique heritage well worth exploring for yourself. The stone-built buildings of the past have stood the test of time, and Islanders have fiercely clung on to their Viking heritage. In 2017, the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, we've compiled a list of 12 essential historical places to visit in Shetland!
Shetland's yearly events start with the fire festivals which mark the end of the long winter nights. Shetland Folk Festival and Fiddle Frenzy are a celebration of Shetland's outstanding musical heritage. Screenplay, Shetland's film festival, brings film stars to the islands, Shetland Wool Week showcases Shetland's sheep and textile industry and the Simmer Dim Motorcycle Rally is a celebration of the long summer nights. It's easy to see why this fantastic range of festivals draw people back to Shetland again and again!
The first time I visited Culswick Broch was the day after Up Helly Aa. Despite having only three hours sleep the previous night, I made my way to the westside of Shetland, and walked to the broch, which stands on a hillside, with a loch (and causeway) on one side, and the Atlantic on the other.