Island Hopping

by Helen Smith -

When you think of island hopping you quite often think of Greek Islands, but Shetland with its white sandy beaches and clear seas is a great place to hop around - with over 100 to choose from you'll not be spoilt for choice! Each of the 10 populated islands (that includes the "mainland) offers something unique for visitors to experience. You can work your way from the most southerly Fair Isle (world reknowned for knitting, birds and stunning scenery) to the most northerly where you can stop off at the Unst Boat Haven, stay at an ex-RAF base, and have your photo taken at the world famous bus shelter. You can head West to Foula, often referred to as the Edge of the World after Michael Powell's film was shot there. The dramatic scenery is worth the long ferry journey, or head East, to Out Skerries, which is only two miles square.

You can choose to travel by ferry to Bressay, Fair Isle, Fetlar, Foula, Out Skerries, Papa Stour, Unst, Whalsay and Yell or by Direct Flight operate an eight seater plane to Foula, Fair Isle, Papa Stour and Out Skerries. You don't have to book a return trip with either mode of transport, so you could take the ferry in and experience life on the ocean waves and opt to fly back out again, or vice versa. Personally, I love flying into the isles - it's an amazing experience being on such a small plane and landing on an airstrip. It's like getting a taxi with wings, and the pilot is sure to chat away with you after taking you through the safety briefing (there's no air stewart on-board!). As well as providing a quick way to get to outlying islands, it's a great way to see Shetland from a different angle - although you have to be quick, the flight to Papa Stour only takes 10 minutes!

Then there's the unihabited islands, which don't have ferry services. Mousa, famous for its broch can be visited during summer months via the Mousa Boat, and you can explore other islands by contacting one of the local boat charter companies. Hildasay, Oxna and Havra are some of my personal favourites to visit and are accessible from Scalloway.