Road Trip Plans for Scotland’s North Islands!

Scotland Road Trip

We’re Sailing to the North Scottish Islands!

Shetland’s islands are calling; I’ve yet to visit our most northerly isles, where the sun barely sets at midsummer, where winter days are but a few hours long.

And it’s that midsummer sun I’m going for. I had big plans for a road trip to Scandinavia, to experience the White Nights of twenty-four hour daylight in the far north, but time wasn’t on my side.

The trip was too big for the brief window in our house sitting schedule so we’ve decided to get as far north as possible within our own country instead.

The Shetland Isles are a 12 hour overnight ferry ride from Aberdeen, yet a world a way. I’ve been to Orkney and found them to be wonderfully different in culture from the mainland and I’m expecting the Shetlands to be even more so: a wee bit Scottish, a wee bit Scandinavian.

We’ve booked the ferry so I’ll write up a blog post about that journey, hopefully I won’t get too seasick if I remember to take a seasick pill. I took a few ferries when I travelled solo from Sweden to Finland and then to Germany so I now am experienced to that, I know what I might need!

I’m hoping there will be wifi, else I’ll be missing our monthly Twitter #travelbookclub. It could be fun chatting away about Eat, Sleep, Cycle about one woman’s bicycle journey around the British mainland coastline while bobbing about on the North Sea though!

I’m very excited to be celebrating the midsummer in the Shetlands. I aways note the solstices but it’s been a while since I’ve properly done something to actively celebrate one. I think I’d like to get as far north as possible for it, by heading to Unst, Scotland’s most northerly inhabited island, although I have read that there is a midsummer festival happening in Lerwick.

A friend has lent us an annotated map of the islands with lots of tips on what to see, where to camp ect. I’ve also done a bit of researching to see what I might want to visit. While the ideal plan is to spend some time on the Shetland Isles then take the ferry to Orkney for a week before sailing back to the mainland and driving along the top and down to Ullapool on the west coast, there is a chance we will spend all the time in Shetland.


So what are we hoping to see and do?

Well, if you’ve been following my adventures in Nordic Europe, you’ll know that I’m fascinated by the culture and I’m really looking forward to seeing the Scandinavian influence on the Shetland Isles. Visiting a couple of the old norse longhouses are definitely on my list, as are the older prehistoric settlements.

The Iron-age Brochs are definitely my cup of tea too; luckily many of these historic sites are next to seabird colonies and places to see otter so Mr VB can head off with his camera while I potter through the history of the islands!

I’m a HUGE fan of neolithic stone circles and standing stones and I was pleased when I read this post on Elisabeth’s Kitchen Diary about standing stones on Sheltland. The scenery looks so beautiful. Elizabeth lives on Shetland and is possibly Britain’s most northerly food blogger, her website is gorgeous and will definitely inspire a visit to these northern islands.

I’m most excited about Unst, I’ve heard great things about this island. The Pie in the Sky double decker bus cafe is a must do apparently, according to our annotated map and I can’t wait to see Unst’s famous bus stop! Again, Elizabeth covers it all in her post about Unst!

We have a long list of wildlife we hope to see on the islands: orca would be an amazing sight but we’ll settle for millions of sea birds and a few otters!

Driving around these islands in our truck camper should be an amazing adventure, I am so excited to do a proper road trip in it!

Ring of Brodgar ScannedThe Orkney Islands are much nearer to the mainland. A ferry links them with the Shetlands and this is the route we hope to take. I absolutely adored the Orkneys when we visited in 2005 and I have dreamt of returning.

The big draw for me has always been the Ring of Brodgar. This stunning neolithic stone circle is situated in a magnificent location on a thin strip of land between two lochs.

I’ve visited quite a few stone circles and none have moved me as much as this one.

This Huff Post on Nine Neolithic Wonders of Orkney leaves me with mega-wanderlust!

The van is all packed up, we are ready to go!

We leave Yorkshire today to travel up to Scotland and we will set off for Aberdeen on Wednesday (gosh, we are rarely this organised!).

I should be able to post regularly, but as we are mostly wild camping bear with me!

Follow me on Instagram and Facebook for daily (hopefully) updates of the journey!

Do you have any travel tips for our trip? Are these Isles on your travel radar?

By Rachel A Davis   Follow on Bloglovin

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10 Responses

  1. John says:

    Looks like an amazing trip Rachel! A close friend of mine is lucky enough to have spent two-three weeks a year in the Shetlands Isles as they have family friends there – she absolutely loves it. Will you be there for the viking festival or is that later in the year?

    Can’t wait to follow your journey!

    • Rachel Davis says:

      Hey John! I would love to experience the Viking Fest (because I’m a freakin’ Nordic obsessive!) but no, we’re only here for about 3 weeks, for Midsummer.
      Your friend sounds great!
      We’ve been here a day and it’s lovely, feels like another country!

  2. Lucy says:

    Sounds fantastic – I so need to see more of Scotland soon but until then I look forward to discovering all these places I know nothing about through you! Have an amazing trip.

  3. How fantastic! I’m looking forward to hearing about your adventures there!

  4. Jayne says:

    Firstly.. can we come!!! Awesome guys look forward to reading about your travels between my studies 🙂 Skara Brae is on Vaughan’s list

    • Rachel Davis says:

      Yay! Skara Brae is amazing! It blew my mind when we visited it, I visited so many neolithic sites and it was wonderful to set foot into their home!

  5. Elizabeth says:

    OOohh I’m so excited for you! To experience Shetland through fresh eyes for the very first time – oh you are in for a treat!!! 😀 I hope you have a fantastic time! If you have time it would be great to meet up for a cuppa – are you bringing a tent? I have a proposal for you… !

    • Rachel Davis says:

      Thank you so much Elizabeth! That would be amazing to meet you. Could we bake together and do a duel blog post? We are bringing our camper van, my days of tent camping a very much limited to festivals and dry countries these days!
      Do you live on the mainland? We haven’t quite got a route for the islands planned yet. All I know is that we will be in Lerwick from Thursday morning.
      Can’t wait to meet you!