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.
The dialect of Shetland and Orkney has been greatly influenced by the islands’ history. Once part of Scandinavia, ‘Norn’ was the language used most commonly around the islands. Today, Scots is spoken in Shetland and Orkney, but there are a smattering of words heavily influenced by Norn. Do you know what Blyde, Braaly and Sirpin mean?
If we were asked to tell someone planning to visit for the first time what makes Shetland so special it would be hard to name just one thing! There are many different facets that make up the essence of Shetland. To help explain, we've compiled a list of ten reasons why Shetland is a great place to visit!
As you travel round Shetland you'll often see Shetland Ponies grazing on rough moorland, as if they are ownerless. This is far from the case though; in the past and often in the present, Shetland Ponies are marked by their owners and then left to run wild on the common. It is this practice that has led the breed to be so hardy and unique. Read on to find out ten fascinating facts about Shetland Ponies!
Lerwick Up Helly Aa takes place on the last Tuesday of January, and being there to see the viking themed fire festival is an amazing experience. However if you are unable to attend Lerwick Up Helly Aa you'll be pleased to learn that there are a number of other community fire festivals and these are super to see as well.
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!
Up Helly Aa is the biggest of the fire festivals that take place in the winter months in Shetland. This Viking themed fire festival takes place in Lerwick on the last Tuesday of January. The day involves a series of marches and visitations and in the evening is the most famous part – the torch-lit procession and Galley burning. Find out more about the Shetland Fire Festival and view the webcast of 2020's event here!
For those interested in finding their Shetland ancestors, then the Shetland Family History Society hold a wealth of information about Shetland family names from the past. NorthLink spoke to Susan Cooper, the Chair of the organisation, who offered some advice for researching your own genealogy.
One of the most striking aspects of Shetland is the dramatic landscape; the amazing geology of the islands has earned it the status of a UNESCO Global Geopark. NorthLink Ferries spoke to Rory Tallack, who works for Shetland Amenity Trust as the Geopark Manager.
One of the jewels in Shetland’s crown is the Old Haa Museum in Yell. Visiting this historic building is like stepping back in time, and you can easily spend a few hours browsing the local artefacts, which paint a vivid picture of life in Shetland in the past. NorthLink Ferries spoke to Rena Nisbet, Chair of the Old Haa Trust to find out more.
Shetland Jewellery create beautiful and unique jewellery in their workshop in Weisdale. NorthLink Ferries had a lovely time chatting to workshop manager Sophie Whitehead who told us more about what inspires the talented team who work there.
Muckle Flugga Lighthouse is Britain’s most northerly lighthouse which stands precariously on a series of sharp rocks jutting out of the sea off the coast of Unst, Shetland. The lighthouse was built in 1854, and was manned by three keepers. Read on for a history of Muckle Flugga Lighthouse and an insight into the tough lives of the men who kept the light shining!