Midsummer in Shetland, diary for week four (part 2)
Midsummer in Shetland, diary for week four (part 2).
For our final few days in Shetland we had headed up to Northmavine where we spent a wonderful evening with Ewen and Kit in their gorgeously Scandinavian-style home along with some of their friends. I’d taken round a trial batch of cranberry bannocks and the evening passed sharing photographs and stories from our travels.
It was the following day that saw us heading out to sea on a misty Sunday evening in their boat, which has already been documented in the previous (part 1) post.
Ewen and Kit were going to show us some of their treasured coastline on the Monday but the mist had failed to lift and we would have seen nothing from the boat. It was a shame, but that’s British weather for you, even up here in Shetland!
Through the rain we drove out to the cliffs and lighthouse at Eshaness, how different it looks shrouded in mist, the dramatic scenery lost in the soup and wild wind whipping up the sea below.
While we sat in the van eating our lunch two coaches appeared and heaps of well-wrapped cruise ship tourists were blown across the car park, their crisp white trainers betraying their cruise liner origins.
The weather didn’t look like it was going to clear anytime soon so we visited the nearby Tangwick Haa museum, a place we’d been recommended weeks ago.
Tangwick Haa is a fascinating little museum documenting life in Northmavine with lots of photographs and historic artefacts. We learnt that Collafirth Pier where we’d been staying at was originally a whaling station, one of a few in the area, looking at the photographs it was hard to imagine that now, the pier is so quiet and serene.
We slowly took the road south, pausing in Voe so that I could take a few more photos of this Nordic-looking town. You may remember from the post for week one that Sir Edmund Hillary’s jumpers were made here for his expedition to conquer Everest; the only manufacturing I saw on my wander was of the edible variety when I smelt the heavenly wafts of fresh bread drifting down the street from the open door of an unmarked bakery.
Have a look at the photos of Voe: it’s hard to believe this town is in Scotland, right!
From Voe we drove to the Westside, back along the road where we’d found the Hufsie cake at the roadside Home Baking stall ‘Hayfield Croft‘ in our first week. Of course we stopped again!
No Hufsie this time, instead we stocked up on Tiffin.
At Aith we stopped to walk around Michaelswood, this lovely oasis of trees has been created by a couple in memory of their son. They have planted many trees and it feels so wonderful to walk in the comforting embrace of woodland after a month in Shetland where trees are so few.
I sent a quick email when we parked up, to Elizabeth of Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary and she met me here. We wandered the woodland together with her children. It is so cool to meet up with other bloggers and it was particularly awesome to meet Britain’s most northerly food blogger!
Elizabeth gave us some excellent tips including an ideal place to go for a walk and a possible park up for the night. We headed towards Vementry and found a gorgeous spot overlooking a small loch.
It has been a wet day but the clouds parted in the evening and we were treated to a gorgeous sunset. While we were sitting in the van an otter swam casually across the loch, what a perfect end to the day.
We went for a short walk as the light was so beautiful, the vibrant sky reflecting in the still waters of the loch.
The following morning we took the walk Elizabeth had recommended, the trail was very pretty but unfortunately the rain had returned and we got rather wet.
We treated ourselves to lunch at the Bonhoga Gallery in Weisdale, a delicious bowl of soup and free WiFi enabled me to get the Cranberry Bannock post up and on-line in cosy restorative comfort.
For our final night in Shetland we chose to drive all the way down to the south of the Mainland, back to Sumburgh Head. As often had happened on our trip the sky cleared for the evening, giving us wonderful light to view the cliffs and the sea birds. Alas, no puffins, they must have been already tucked up in bed in their burrows.
I watched the evening ferry to Aberdeen pass the lighthouse and felt a twang of sadness that we would be on the ship tomorrow, leaving Shetland.
The Northlink Ferry to Aberdeen leaves in the evening, so we had a full day left to visit Lerwick, the only big town on the islands.
We began by visiting Clickimin Broch, an ancient site we’d passed a number of times throughout our stay. While Clickimin isn’t as tall and complete as Mousa Broch it is still spectacular and interesting.
A long straight path leads down to the broch from the road, this is a two-thousand year old ruin in a semi-urban setting, a stone’s throw from Tesco yet with the serene Clickimin Loch lapping at its stony feet.
It looked rather lovely in the sunny morning, surrounded by summer flowers.
Parking on the old pier we had a walk around Lerwick, heading to the excellent Shetland Museum.
On the whole, Lerwick looks like a typical Scottish town with its stone grey buildings. However, down by the port there are a sprinkling of Nordic-style buildings and there are many colourful wooden houses on the fringes of the town.
The main shopping is along Commercial street, and it was along here that we bumped into Joe and Hazel who we’d met a few days before at Kit and Ewen’s, what a lovely surprise!
It began to rain so we popped into the Peerie Shop Cafe for lunch, where Chris devoured a naughty-looking slice of chocolate cheesecake.
Shetland Museum is a must-see, it is extremely well laid out and packed with fascinating artefacts telling the story of the islands from their geological birth to the present day: everything from minerals to knitwear and the oil industry.
While it would be a great introduction to Shetland, I’m glad I visited it at the end of the trip, I was able to understand so much more from experiencing the islands already.
By late afternoon we were in the queue at the ferry terminal waiting to check the Thundertruck in. I’d booked a bed in a shared cabin for this return trip, after only having a seat on the way over: I need a bed, I can’t sleep in a chair.
It was an incredibly calm sailing, we spent much of the evening up on the viewing deck waving goodbye to Shetland, the now familiar coastline looking sublime in the evening sunshine.
I was sad to leave, the islands had been more wonderful than I’d imagined and we had seen and experienced so many incredible things. The weather might not have been as summery as the rest of the UK (heatwave, what heatwave?) but I wouldn’t have swapped these four weeks for anything and I’m glad we decided to spend the entire time here rather than splitting it with a trip to Orkney (as originally planned).
Shetland should be on your bucket list, trust me! Have I inspired you?
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