August 2012 Visit Shetland Newsletter
by Abby -
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.
Since we last spoke… friends from New Zealand ferry hopped from Aberdeen to Shetland - for the day!
It's always wonderful to share Shetland with friends from abroad - to see the islands through fresh eyes and hear 'awesome!' and 'choice!' repeated many times! Kath and Mark, due to a packed itinerary, visited just for the day. They hopped on the evening ferry from Aberdeen, arrived early the following morning, had breakfast at my creaky old cottage and then off we scooted to stunning Northmavine.
After exploring Hillswick, Johnnie Notions Böd (great place to camp) and fuelling up on cake and tea at Braewick Café (top tip: get a sofa seat and be mesmerized by the Drongs glimmering in the distance), we took a long walk along the coast at stunning Eshaness and explored the dramatic Grind o' Da Navir. They got back in time for the evening ferry - having experienced one of the best walks in Shetland and a good ol' catch up too! If time is of the essence and you fancy a taste of Shetland - why not do a ferry hop from Aberdeen? Easy as!
Two intrepid explorers (also from New Zealand) visit for 5 days…
Christine and Leonie hired a car, planned their day the night before, packed all weather kit and returned no earlier than midnight, 'there's so much daylight, we just can't waste it!' The following is just a sample of what they got up to!
They went north and replicated my day with Kath and Mark. They went south and visited ancient Jarlshof and Scatness (they loved the living history demonstrations), walked along golden sands to St Ninian's Isle, listened to tales of a crofter's life at the The Croft House Museum and spent hours watching the Puffins at Sumburgh Head. We drove West to Sandness and did a fascinating self-guided tour of Jamieson's Wool Mill (Shetland's only spinning mill) and then stopped at Little Bousta - where breathtaking views greeted us. We went beachcombing at Sand, said hi to Ruby at Da Gairdins and stopped for an al fresco lunch at picturesque Skeld Marina (delicious cheddar sandwiches - made by Jay at Shetland Cheese) and looked out for playful seals. Bliss.
They both raved about the award-winning Shetland Museum and Archives, and Islesburgh Shetland Showcase (every Monday evening from 7pm until September 3rd) was definitely a highlight - renowned local musicians entertained and crafts were viewed - all for £2.00 (concession)!
We took the car and hopped on the ferry to Unst - 'I can't believe we're going to the most northerly inhabited island in the UK for the day and it's so easy to get there!' We explored the replica Viking Longship, visited Cheryl at Glansin Glass - a must-do on the Craft Trail and popped around the corner for a sneaky beaky in the zero carbon house. We visited one of my favourite museums too - The Unst Boat Haven. The custodian shared many a salty yarn, including the following… Are you sitting comfortably?!
Castaway girls from Uyea to Norway
There are various versions of this story, however, I will share the version as told by two residents of Uyeasound, Unst: 'A long time ago two servant girls of the laird of Uyea, an island just south of Unst, after going to the little islet of Haaf Gruney, over a mile to the east, to milk cows kept there for grazing, were prevented by the weather from getting back to Uyea, and were blown in their boat to Norway. As they were about to land, people on shore appeared to be hostile. When, however, one of the girls made the sign of the Cross, they were accepted. They never came back…' Apparently they drifted for eight days and the year this happened is thought to be 1745. They married and settled there! Visit the Unst Boat Haven and the Heritage Museum and hear more fascinating yarns!
A BIG thank you
A big thank you to everyone who made my visitors so welcome. Since leaving New Zealand, 3 years ago, I have waxed lyrical to friends about how wonderful it is over here, how stunning the scenery is and how friendly local folk are. My friends were not disappointed and were quite overwhelmed with the amount of activities on offer and how accessible the wildlife is. They especially appreciated that people took their time to share their knowledge and passion for the islands. The warm welcome received made their trip extra special. As I hugged Christine goodbye she said, 'I can't wait to return and explore some more'. You can't get a better seal of approval than that.
August's prize: a rambling good read
Congratulations to July's prizewinner Mrs Jean Wolff from Surrey -a unique crocodile cape, designed by Nielanell, is on its way to you! August's prize is 'Shetland Rambles: A Sketching Tour Retracing the Footsteps of Victorian Artist John T. Reid', written by one of Scotland's best-loved authors and illustrators Mairi Hedderwick.
Her book showcases stunning watercolours and her travelogue, inspired by John T. Reid's original journey to Ultima Thule, retraces his steps and explores the changing scenery since he visited our shores in 1867. This book is a nostalgic journey, a visual feast and a special keepsake. If you'd like to learn more about Mairi - her lifelong fascination with island communities and life as an illustrator and writer - read the interview in our new online magazine 60 North.
Festival Diary and no time to rest!
My diary is filling up fast and there's definitely no time to rest! Let's start with the annual film and book festivals - Screenplay and Wordplay(31st August-9th September) - meet national and international film industry professionals and literary luminaries, attend writing workshops, film screenings, book launches, children's events… Ooooh hot off the press: Wordplay line-up! Fiddle Frenzy (5th-12th August) is a renowned summer school and festival - a must for fans of traditional music. Book NOW! The Blues Festival (14th-16th September) is the perfect opportunity to kick back and listen to local and visiting musos. The Agricultural shows (Walls - 11th August, Cunningsburgh - 8th August and Voe - 4th August) offer a wide range of activities to keep the whole family entertained, especially the kids! Feast on local produce, view exhibits, listen to live music…Top livestock exhibitors and competitions draw huge crowds and are always fun events bringing visitors and the local community together to celebrate our natural resources and lifestyle pursuits (and have a good natter too!)
See you soon!
Richard Webber and his young family experienced a Shetland wildlife extravaganza and had many memorable adventures. He recently wrote an article for the Sunday Telegraph - click here to read. His handy tips are excellent and I love the posing Puffin photo! If you'd like a journey with a difference you may be inspired by the Norwegian adventurers Erik and Henrik - they arrived here in a tiny rowing boat!
The No.1 choice for mammal waching, birding, wildlife photography, botanical & walking holidays in Shetland. 20 years of experience and 40 holidays to choose from! ATOL. 9151.
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The team at www.SHETLAND.org
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