COVID-19 update: Shetland is now reopen to visitors. If you're planning a trip, please read our guidance on travelling responsibly.

May 2013 Visit Shetland Newsletter



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 or Facebook - 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 magazine 60 North and explore our 'be inspired' page - videos, webcams, images and much much more!

Since we last spoke…spring has sprung!

The Puffins have returned to Sumburgh Head and are starring, once again, in their own reality show (there were lengthy fee negotiations). You too can share in their trials and tribulations via the world famous Puffin Cam! Cross fingers and toes we see the egg hatch this year and the chick leaving the nest. Be warned flaparazzi: it's compulsive viewing! In addition to the puffin show -Shetland returns!

BBC One has re-commissioned the powerful murder-mystery drama, based on the novels by award-winning crime writer Ann Cleeves, for a second series. An audience of over 12 million viewers watched Douglas Henshall star as Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez and he will be returning to this role in the second series. Be prepared for more twists and turns than a Shetland single-track road! I've also read in the local news that the film adaptation of SJ Bolton's Sacrifice, starring Rupert Graves and Charles Dance, will be partly shot here - I'll keep you posted. It's all go in Sheltywood!

Did you know: Sumburgh Head Lighthouse is currently being restored and in 2014 you will be able to explore a fabulous world-class visitor attraction? Don't forget to dedicate a full day to this area of Shetland - so much to see and do.

It's the little things that matter most and give the greatest pleasure…

While the Puffins are playing, I'm happy to see signs of spring: lambs frolicking in the fields in front of my cottage, daffodils in bloom, days growing longer, waking to the dawn chorus - a wonderful way to start the day. As my garden starts to show signs of life I have been channeling my inner Felicity Kendal and reading Rosa Steppanova's blog: The Impossible Garden. Rosa gives plenty of sound advice and handy tips, including - give your garden a good spring clean now! Bionic gloves on and out I go…!

Top tip:Visit Rosa's two-acre Lea Gardens located on the sunny Westside (open April - October 2.00pm - 5.00pm/£3.00 entry fee - funds raised at garden openings go to charity). Pick up an Open Gardens leaflet at the Visitor Centre, Lerwick.

Note to all 'Nossers', and WIN a trip to Shetland worth £2000!

Come mid-May I'm off on a guided tour around Noss National Nature Reserve and Hermaness National Nature Reserve (Unst). Both of these Nature Reserves have to be on my list of 'top ten things to see and do in Shetland' and I'm looking forward to returning to these spectacular spots and, as always, being dazzled by the wildlife and learning more about Shetland's natural heritage. I will report back!

Did you know:You could WIN a trip to Shetland worth £2000! The prize is an unforgettable adventure to the most northerly inhabited island in the UK - Unst! This pot of gold includes 4-night accommodation in the stunning Shetland Nature Lodge and an exclusive wildlife-watching day with friends of Simon King - Brydon and his team at Shetland Nature.

Top tip for 'Nossers': Why not take a wildlife adventure cruise around Bressay and Noss with Seabirds-and-Seals? I did, and what a memorable trip! View thousands of guillemots, gannets, shags, kittiwakes and puffins up close.

Look out for resident seals and visiting otters feeding in the dense kelp forest surrounding the island. Sail close to the magnificent rock arch of the Giant's Leg and view a magical underwater kingdom using video cameras and a remotely controlled mini-submarine. Awesome may be an overused tag, but….this trip is AWESOME!

Shetland is an artist's haven

I recently visited Bonhoga Gallery and viewed work from one of the UK's leading silversmiths, Rod Kelly. I particularly enjoyed viewing his new pieces inspired by Shetland. I also signed up for an enamelling workshop with his equally talented wife, acclaimed jeweller enameller, Sheila McDonald (great news - they are relocating to Shetland and opening a studio). Weisdale Mill is as an ideal place to spend a blissful few hours.

The ever-changing exhibitions in Bonhoga Gallery features work from local and international artists, (don't miss the latest exhibition: Four Journeys From The Blue - four winners from the four categories of the Shetland Open Awards 2012 are showcasing their work from 27th April - 9th June). For afters - treat yourself to tea and cake in the café (sit outside and look for otters in the burn), and finally - retail therapy is a must-do in the far too tempting shop!

Top tip:If you're searching for a gift - something a little bit different or maybe you just want to have a creative adventure - follow the Craft Trail! A warm welcome guaranteed and no hard sell - Shetland products speak for themselves.

May's prize - Havera: The story of an island

Congratulations to April's prizewinner Joanne Clements from Kent - a Legacy of Shetland Lace is on its way to you! This month's prize is Havera: The story of an island. The text for this book has been written by Laughton Johnston, Pauline Wiseman has penned original scores (an accompanying DVD is due out later this year), with poetry by Christine Luca and photographs by Mark Sinclair which complement the historic images taken of life on the island prior to it being abandoned in 1923 by descendants of those families that settled there in the 1770s and made their living fishing at the Burra Haaf. By 1850 the island supported some 50 people and by all accounts were exceptional fishermen.

Each family had two boats, a summer haaf boat for cod and ling, and a winter haddock boat. Fortunately one of the summer boats, the Ann, built in 1871, has survived and has been beautifully restored and is on display in the Shetland Museum foyer (13th April - 5th May). There are many stories of life on the island including the inevitable shipwreck, the women sailing to nearby Scalloway to sell their knitwear and lace and collect supplies, and how the children of the township were tethered to a post to prevent them falling over the banks while at play! Havera is a visual treat and a superb record of times past.

Top tip:Take a break from perusing the Museum's fabulous collection and pop into Hay's Dock for a bite to eat. Get a table by the window - the sea views will mesmerize and a seal or two may make an appearance!

Did you know:Shetland Museum and Archives has consistently achieved the highest visitor attraction award since opening in 2007? I highly recommend you start your Shetland journey here, and don't forget to sign up for your FREE electronic copy of Unkans - a heritage and culture newsletter published every two months.

A frenzy of festivals!

By the time this newsletter goes to press the 33rd Shetland Folk Festival (2nd-5th May) will almost be in full swing and if you're lucky you may be able to purchase a ticket and experience a long weekend you'll never forget! Top tip: buy tickets before you arrive to avoid disappointment. If you're looking for a wildlife adventure - Shetland Nature Festival in partnership with European Geoparks Week (29th June-7th July) is for you. There are plenty of activities for all ages and more information can be found in April's newsletter. In the meantime, discover why Shetland Rocks!

In August Shetland celebrates Fiddle Frenzy (4th-11th August) - an opportunity to learn the secrets of Shetland Fiddle from a range of world-renowned tutors, and in the evening all are welcome to attend concerts which are being held in our brand new Arts Centre - Mareel. There's a 10th Birthday Bash too! Join the Fiddle Frenzy Facebook Page and keep up-to-date with news and announcements. Bookworms and film buffs will love the smörgåsbord of events on offer at Wordplay and Screenplay (31st August-7th September) - I'll share more information very soon! From 31st July-5th August Shetland Arts will present an International Textile Festival with a Nordic theme. The festival will begin by hosting the 'In The Loop 3.5': Making Connections knitting conference.

In October - I know, it's a while away - but with Shetland Wool Week (7th-13th October) - a celebration of Britain's most northerly native sheep and with a global following - it's necessary to book well ahead or you'll be crying into your pile of yarn and kicking yourself with your felted slippers, and we don't want that. Get booking NOW!

Getting here and experiencing something out of the ordinary!

I recently met a family who are thinking of relocating to Shetland and they asked me about getting to and from Shetland. They were surprised to learn that there are frequent daily flights from major airports (Sumburgh is Shetland's main airport), a daily overnight ferry from Aberdeen - operated by Northlink, and during the summer - direct flights from Sumburgh to Bergen, Norway. Shetland is very well connected, don't you know!

Top tip:Bring your campervan over on the ferry and go 'wild' camping or kick back at one of the well-equipped official camp and caravan sites.

Did you know: Shetland Walking and Wildlife have launched a series of one-off walks and workshops for the spring and summer? If you're looking for a 1-day special adventure - a night time ascent of Ronas Hill (Shetland's highest peak) to celebrate simmer dim, a walking tour of the Out Skerries or maybe a trip to discover the wildlife of Papa Stour, to name but a few exciting events planned - then Graham Uney is the guide for you. Get booking. Get bragging!

See you soon!


Great news! Freelance ecologist specializing in Ornithology and Wildlife Tour-leader for Shetland Nature, Rebecca Nason has been awarded 2nd place in the Natural Abstract Category of the Scottish Nature Awards 2012. The image of a Herring Gull was taken on an autumn morning in Lerwick Harbour. 'Red October' impressed the judges with the vivid colour and sense of calm and simplicity of the shot:'…feeding the gulls took on a new meaning as I spent the early hours casting bread into blood reflective waters below an anchored research ship, tempting gulls to come close and become part of a surreal scene I wanted to capture.

Monthy Offers

Shetland Wildlife

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.

Belmont House

A magical venue for your holiday - this superbly restored Georgian house sleeps up to 12 in a stylish interior for self-catering holidays. Offers a total experience for the discriminating guest.

Special offer - book before 17th May for a 10% discount - ring Karen on 07909 966161.


We would welcome any comments you have about this email, or about the site.

Also, if you have any enquiries at all about Shetland we would be more than happy to assist you.

Please contact us using any of the methods listed below.

Thank you again for taking the time to read this newsletter and please feel free to forward it to anyone else who may be interested in Shetland.

The team at


Telephone us on +44 (0)1595 98 98 98;

Email us at;

Or write to us at: Promote Shetland, Shetland Museum & Archives, Hay's Dock, Lerwick, Shetland, ZE1 0WP, United Kingdom

Add to
My Shetland
My Collection 0