Day Thirteen

Today we drove to the west coast, towards Sandness. The views, as always, were fabulous.

There are abandoned, ruined crofts all over the island, some dating from the time of ‘the clearances’ in the 1800s when landowners threw the crofters out to put sheep on the land.
The scenery constantly amazes.
We stopped at West Melby beach and did some seal watching.
Can you see the seal?
Here it is!
From there we drove South.
The roads are empty.
We stopped at Minn Beach

Beautiful, but cold.
Andy had a lovely swim. I did go in but it was too cold.

Today is our last night on the Shetlands, but as our ferry isn’t until 5.30pm tomorrow we will have some time on the island. One more place we want to visit. Find out where it is tomorrow.


Day Twelve

Today we drove around the western side of the island to Scalloway.

Scalloway Castle
A pretty town
Looking across the bay to the castle

We drove on across a bridge to Trondra, then across another bridge to get to West Burra. We walked down to Meal Beach.

We passed the restored crofthouse, Easthouse, featuring the traditional house, barn, byte and pig sty.

On the way back we saw more salmon farms.

We had booked a visit to Shetland Museum and Archives in Lerwick. It was very interesting.

View in front of the museum.
This is a sixareen, the type of boat that featured in the dreadful accident in yesterday’s post.
The sea is so calm, the reflections are amazing.

Again, we were so lucky with the weather.

Can it continue?


Day Eleven

Another beautiful day, sunny and calm, which was very lucky as we decided to explore two of the smaller islands north of Mainland. We got on the ferry at Toft for the 15 minute crossing to Ulsta, on Yell.

Ferry arriving
Leaving the ferry at Ulsta, to drive across Yell
Scenic views at every turn
The crossing from Gutcher on Yell to Belmont on Unst took ten minutes.
Former post office at Gutcher
We had a picnic at Uyeasound.
Greenwell’s Bod, an old booth for trading goods brought in by sea.
We visited Unst Heritage Centre, by prior appointment, in the old school building at Haroldswick.
Lots of interesting things to see
Stone anchors
We drove to the north of Unst, overlooking Burra Firth.
Driving back through Haroldswick we stopped at the replica longhouse and longship. This area was a landing place for the Vikings and there are many relics on the island.
Inside the house
Full size replica
There are many ruins of Viking longhouses and of ancient crofts.

We saw Highland Cattle
and the ruins of Muness Castle, the most northerly castle in Britain, before getting the ferry back to Yell.

We visited the Fisherman’s Memorial. In July 1881 there was a disaster which devastated the small community of Gloup. Ten boats and 58 men were lost at sea in a freak storm. They left behind 34 widows and 85 children without their fathers.

We then got on our fourth ferry of the day, to return to Mainland.

More to come,


Day Ten

Today we explored the North West side of the island.

Mussel farm
If you look carefully you can see the Atlantic Ocean to the left and the North Sea to the right.
The coast is very rugged
Salmon farm
Dore Holm
Shetland ponies
Eshaness Lighthouse

I was particularly keen to visit Eshaness as, several months ago, when this holiday was in the planning stages, I had to pick a place I had never been to and use it as a setting for a story. I chose Eshaness, did some research and wrote a story.

If you would like to read it click here.

The dramatic coastline was formed 360 million years ago by a series of volcanoes.
Overlooking Calder’s Geo

Fulmars on the cliff face
Fulmar in flight
Looking back to Eshaness Lighthouse and our car
Unfortunately we didn’t see any sea otters.
A boat being used as a roof, at Lower Voe harbour.

That’s all for now,


Day Nine

We arrived in the Shetlands at 7.30am after a lovely smooth crossing. We managed to get some sleep.

We were met with beautiful weather and had a quick look round Lerwick harbour before going to our holiday cottage.

A Swedish tall ship – Gunilla
Hansel Cottage

After a look round Lerwick and lunch in a cafe, we went for a drive to South Mainland. The terrain is hillier and more craggy than the Orkneys.

Levenwick Beach

At the southernmost tip is Sumburgh Head, a towering outcrop of rock capped with a lighthouse overlooking the area where the Atlantic Ocean meets the North Sea.

Views from Sumburgh Head

We continued our drive, crossing the airstrip, and following the coast. We spotted some seals sheltering on a beach below us.

We had a walk on the beach near St Ninian’s Isle, which can be reached by a spectacular example of a shell-sand tombolo (a beach or bar that links two islands).

The clouds gathered but we had no rain.

More pictures of Shetland tomorrow


Day Eight

The weather was amazing for our last day on the island. We went to the beach at Weddell Sound near Churchill Barrier Number 3 for a walk.

Then we returned to the Italian Chapel to have a look inside. The POWs built it using two Nissan huts, as a place to worship while they built the barriers.

Domenico Chiocchetti, one of the prisoners, was a talented artist.
Inside the chapel

We left our lovely fisherman’s cottage and drove to Kirkwall to have dinner at the Kirkwall Hotel prior to boarding the ferry to Lerwick, on the Shetlands.

Kirkwall harbour, across from the hotel.

Off to the ferry now.

We left the Orkneys at midnight.

The MV Hrossey
Hatston Pier
Our cabin



Day Seven

We explored the north and west of Mainland today. Our first stop was at Gurness Beach, a beautiful beach littered with shells. I found a sea urchin

Next we stopped at the Point of Buckquoy. We would have walked across the causeway to the Brough of Birsay but the tide was coming in and covering the path.

These three left it a bit late to return from the Brough.
The remains of Earl Robert’s palace, built in 1574.
We walked round the Ring of Brodgar, standing stones thought to have been there for 4000 years.

Tomorrow we leave the Orkneys and take the ferry to the Shetlands at 11.45pm.

Take care


Day Six

We explored the South East of Orkney crossing several causeways. These were called ‘Churchill’s Barriers’. In WW2 ships were sunk to stop German U-Boats getting into Scapa Flow. Unfortunately, in 1939, one got through and sunk the ‘Royal Oak’ killing 834 men. Churchill ordered the construction of the barriers, which was carried out by Italian prisoners of war.

The Italian POWs also built a church.
One of the scuttled ships we saw.
From South Ronaldsay we could see Dunnet Head on mainland Scotland,
and Hoy, the second largest island in the Orkneys.
We walked out to Mull Head, at Deerness
and saw the ‘Gloup’, a collapsed sea cave.
At Kirkwall we saw St Magnus Cathedral,
the Bishop’s Palace,
the Earl’s Palace,
and Kirkwall harbour.

We ended our busy day at the Murray Arms Hotel, in St Margaret’s Hope, with a seafood platter. The hotel has their own boats and the seafood is caught fresh, daily.

We will explore more of the island tomorrow.


Day Five

We left Wick and drove to Scrabster to get the ferry to Stromness on the Orkney mainland.

Looking across to the ferry terminal from Thurso.
Waiting in line.
Driving onto the boat.
Leaving Scrabster.

The journey took one and a half hours. The weather was perfect. It was quiet on the ferry with less than half the usual number of vehicles.

We passed the ‘Old Man of Hoy’, a sea stack.
Approaching Stromness.
Leaving the boat.
Looking down on the boat as we leave Stromness.
We had a beautiful drive along the coast road to our holiday cottage at St Mary’s.
Glenduron Holiday Cottage
The view from the front of the cottage.
There is a small jetty and slipway.
We watched a yacht set off from the jetty.

The cottage looks out onto Scapa Flow, a body of water sheltered by the mainland and other, smaller islands. In 1919 the captured German fleet of 74 ships was scuttled by their crew to prevent the vessels falling into British hands.

The Vikings anchored their longships in Scapa Flow more than 1000 years ago. It is one of the world’s great natural harbours.

Tomorrow we will visit some of the smaller islands via causeways built by Italian prisoners of war.

More tomorrow


Day Four

After breakfast under the watchful eye of the stag in a mask, we left Bettyhill Hotel and continued along the North Coast 500, with amazing scenery at every turn.

We passed Dounreay Nuclear Power Station.
At Scrabster we saw the ferry that we would be catching tomorrow.
Dunnet Head is the most northerly point of mainland Scotland.
John o’ Groats is the most northerly town.
We visited Puffin Croft. Cara moved to the Highlands in 2016 and started the petting farm, after spending 25 years as a Nanny. She was featured twice on Ben Fogle’s TV show ‘Make a New Life in the Country’. We saw the programme and decided if we were ever up this way we would visit.
The animals and ‘staff’ were pleased to see us.
Wick, our stop for the night, used to be the busiest herring port in Britain. 1100 boats used the harbour.
This is the view from our bedroom window.

Tomorrow we get the ferry to the Orkneys, a short crossing compared to the distance to the Shetlands.

Wish me luck!