July 2013 Visit Shetland Newsletter

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Hi,

I'm Abby, author of Postcards from Shetland, and I'm here again with the latest Shetland happenings, information and holiday suggestions. If you are considering a visit to Shetland, please do not hesitate to contact us for holiday planning advice, using either the contact form on the website or by phoning +44 (0) 1595 98 98 98.

Please also feel free to get in touch with questions and comments via Twitter orFacebook - we would love to hear from you. If you're thinking, 'I could live in Shetland' - put that thought into action and get in touch with Move Shetland and subscribe to their newsletter, and don't forget to read our online magazine60 North and explore our 'be inspired' page - videos, webcams, images and much much more!

Since we last spoke…I've been Porpoise watching!

It was one of those golden evenings, the sort of evening I down tools and visit the beach. I took a stroll along the white sands of Meal Beach, Burra, listened to the crashing waves and spied two Porpoises (in Shetland dialect: Neesiks) playing in the sea - they were so near to the shore that I didn't need to use my binoculars. Pure magic. As I returned to the car a Snipe entertained me with its erratic sky dance and distinctive "drumming" song. On the journey back home I took the winding single track road through emerald green Tingwall Valley - groups of people were playing golf (top tip: The Clubhouse hosts free live traditional music sessions) and an angler was fishing in the stunning loch. With so many hours of daylight left I decided to ramble in my back yard, sitting on my favourite seat (a fallen tree!) I looked to the shimmering voe in the distance, rabbits darted over the heather and a Cuckoo's call rang across the valley. It was another idyllic Sunday in Shetland. Now, let me share what I did on Saturday…

Did you know: we're awash with pristine beaches? Five of which have, once again, received awards from Keep Scotland Beautiful. Pack your bucket and spade – golden treasures can be found here.

Saturday: Island hopping to Fetlar!

It took only two ferries from the mainland (top tip: visit the deck of the Yell ferry and keep an eye out for Orcas) to reach the Garden of Shetland - Fetlar. The first stop on this island tour has to be the Interpretive Centre (open May-September). I enjoyed the stories of local folklore and the photographic exhibition of famous resident - Sir William Watson Cheyne – the noted surgeon and assistant to Joseph Lister and a pioneer of antiseptic surgery. I followed my visit to the Centre with a walk along award-winning Tresta Beach and took a stroll up Lamb Hoga's old peat track where I drank in the magnificent view to Papil Water and watched Great Skuas ("Bonxies") gathering by the shore. I visited the Loch of Funzie (RSPB Nature Reserve) and kept an eye out for rare Red-necked Phalaropes and then onto Everland where I began a 3.5 km circular walk to the supposedly haunted Roundhouse at Gruting – built as a folly for Sir Arthur Nicolson – the Landlord responsible for Fetlar's devastating Clearances. No ghosts seen! On the way there I scrambled down to yet another breathtaking beach – wildflowers carpeted the cliffs and a Whimbrel inspected the shoreline while Seals kept a close eye on me! On my return trip to the ferry terminal I stopped at the magnificent Brough Lodge, built in the 1820s and currently undergoing extensive refurbishment. A fascinating history of Brough Lodge can be found here. I will definitely be back again soon to walk the 8.5 km Funzie Ness path and next time I will camp overnight – there's just so much to see and do!

Did you know: There's a rare rock type in Fetlar called Funzie conglomerate (view at Funzie beach)? Find out more here and don't forget to pick up geology information sheets from the Visitor Centre, Lerwick, and discover Geopark Shetland here.

July's prize: red-carpet camping - one week's rental of a motorhome!

Congratulations to June's prizewinner - Robert Smith from London - a CD collection of traditional, contemporary and self-penned Shetland songs and tunes, from Blyde Lasses, is on its way to you! This month's prize is a glamping dream. Shetland Motorhome Hire is offering the lucky winner a week's rental of a luxury 4/6 berth motorhome and Promote Shetland will be adding a welcome Shetland hamper packed with moreish local produce. With over 6oo miles of roads, regular inter-island ferries travelling to the larger islands i.e. Unst, Whalsay, Yell, this prize, in my opinion, (confession: I'm a campervan spotter and enthusiast!) is the way to see Shetland. There's nothing better than the freedom to roam, empty roads (no traffic jams here!), superb campsite facilities and the chance to just go with the flow and see how the day unfolds. Bliss. All you need to do to enter is submit a maximum 200 words description about your favourite Shetland walk and include a photo too. The photos will be displayed on walkshetland.com and on our Facebook page. The winner will chosen by the Promote Shetland team once the competition has closed on the 30th September 2013. We will also have a public vote - the photo with the most "likes" will receive a Shetland hamper.

Did you know: You can go böd hopping when you visit Shetland?! For travellers on a budget a böd (a building which accommodated fishermen and their gear during the fishing season) is a unique place to stay – each one has an interesting history and the locations are stunning. Talking of travel on a budget: read about "Voyaging to Fair Isle"(number 12. on the list) featured in Wanderlust. Sandra Moody writes about her inspirational four night stay on the island of Fair Isle– her budget challenge for the trip: £250.00!

Top tip budgeteers: Book Shetland's award winning Five-star Youth Hostel – Islesburgh (Lerwick) in advance. Click here for further information.

Puffin watching and the island of Noss

I will never forget my first visit to the island of Noss, primarily because dozens of Puffins waddled so close to me and posed for photos, one with a posy of rose pink Thrift held in its beak! I was therefore more than happy to return to this beautiful National Nature Reserve with Scottish Natural Heritage nature gurus – Glen and his team, and learn more about this wildlife paradise. It's so easy to pop over to Noss. Get a car-ferry from Lerwick to the island of Bressay, scoot across Bressay (5kms), and finally a quick trip in a Zodiac ferry across the 200m wide Noss Sound (operates May-August every day, except Mondays and Thursdays). The island wardens will give you an introduction to Noss at the Visitor Centre, answer all your queries and then off you go on a spectacular and easily accessible wildlife adventure (there are short walks to view seabirds or circuit the island in approx. 3.5 hours). Highlights include the magnificent 180m Noup of Noss – the honeycombed ledges are crowded with tens of thousands nesting seabirds, including Guillemots, Gannets and Fulmars ("Maalies" in Shetland dialect). The colourful hanging gardens of Noss will have you "Oohing and Ahhing" and there are plenty of idyllic picnic spots and wildlife photo opportunities abound. Don't miss visiting this island either by foot or on a boat tour around the island. Ideally – do both! Call the Noss Information Line for details of the Noss ferry service: 0800 107 7818

Puffin webcam news: It was sad to hear that the Puffin egg didn't hatch, however, such is the harsh reality of nature and the cameras are still focused on other burrows around the area and I hope to see the pufflings leaving around the beginning of August. Click here for LIVE Puffin Cam.

What's the buzz…

For Shetland music and crafts: the Islesburgh Shetland Showcase is not to be missed. It's the perfect place to purchase local gifts and souvenirs and a chance to hear world-renowned local musicians. Location: Islesburgh Community Centre, Lerwick. Happening: June, July and August. For a celebration of traditional Shetland music culture: Shetland Fiddle Frenzy (4-11th August) Take a wee jig over here and find out more.

For film buffs and bookworms: the annual Screenplay (31stAugust-7th September) and Wordplay Festivals are star-studded occasions. Keep an eye on this page for Screenplay updates and announcements and here for the Wordplay programme.

For Nature lovers and families: The sixth annual Shetland Nature Festival (29thJune–7th July) is a celebration of Shetland's natural heritage and the event calendar includes a RSPB guided tour around the island of Mousa, sea-cliff climbing with Shetland ClimbingClub and Vaila Mae boat trips – try your hand at rowing a traditional Shetland yoal. This is a superb family event. Go wild here!

For yarn addicts: Shetland Arts presents an International Textile Festival with a Nordic theme from 31st July–5th August. This festival is about the contemporary future of textiles, making new connections and learning from other cultures. Shetland Arts and Southampton University present: In the Loop 3.5: Making Connections – an international conference with a focus on knitting as part of the International Textile Festival and takes place from 31st July-2nd August. Tickets can be purchased here

For everyone: There's always something of interest happening at our über cool new arts hub: Mareel. Great café/bar too!

My Shetland to-do list is getting longer!

I wrote, in June's newsletter, that I would report back on my geocaching mission in this newsletter. Well, time has flown and the Thing Sites GeoTourtreasure hunt has now been rescheduled for July. My days have been busy touring the islands, including a trip to view a superb exhibition: From the Croft to the Palace at The Shetland Textile Museum, Böd of Gremista, Lerwick(14th May–13th October, Tuesday–Saturday 12-4 pm). The displays of Fair Isle and lace garments celebrating Shetland knitting, worn by Royalty, are stunning, as are the cabinets housing the displays, designed and made by Cecil Tait at Paparwark Furniture. Don't miss retail therapy in the Textile Museum shop – local crafts are for sale, including gorgeous organic native Shetland wool from Shetland Organics. My July's to-do list is equally packed: a trip to the islands of Foula and Papa Stour, a boat trip to the uninhabited Isle of Mousa and its ancient Iron Age Broch (a must-do: a spectacular evening trip to view Storm Petrels return to their nests in the Broch and field walls), view the latest art exhibition at Shetland Museum: dramatic landscapes from local artist Ruth Brownlee are showcased from 6th July-18thAugust (read about Ruth's work in our free online magazine 60 North) and a trip to Scalloway Museumand much much more! Phew, time for a cup of tea! I'll keep you posted with Shetland happenings when we next meet, in the meantime, if you're a keen kayaker, as local friends are (they recently built a sea kayak with strip cedar – a work of art) then paddle over here. Shetland is a kayaker's paradise. We've got it all in magical Shetland!

See you soon!

PS

It is high season on the high seas this month for yachts and other craft heading for Lerwick. There's a lively yachting scene locally and there are three key international events on the Lerwick yachting calendar this year: the biennial North Sea Triangle Challenge, the annual Bergen-Shetland Race and the biennial 1000-mile Doublehanded Race. Click here to find out more about this year's events and here for information about Shetland Marinas.

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