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Rediscover Shetland: Your highlights

by Promote Shetland -

When lockdown restrictions were eased in Scotland in July, we encouraged islanders to get outdoors to 'Rediscover Shetland' – and explore you have! We've been enjoying all the photos you've been posting on social media using the hashtag #RediscoverShetland and have been really inspired by your trips and travels.

With this in mind, we asked some of you to share your summer highlights and tips for fellow travellers...

Cairi Balmain, Scousburgh

"We've been on lots of fab walks including Zoar ,Vementry, Spiggie, Burra and Uyea. And wild swimming all over the islands, usually every day at the beaches near us and further afield. A highlight has been swimming anywhere and everywhere without a wetsuit.

"Uyea was super; it was my first time there and we walked there as a family – my seven year old did fantastic. We went swimming in the sea and met a few friendly faces. It seems to be a hot spot this summer for Shetlanders wanting a long walk and a swim!

"I use the ordnance survey app to find new places to swim and have found some nice secret spots this summer. It's generally very quiet no matter where you are, apart from Uyea, which was the busiest beach all summer and the most remote! Have a look on Instagram to get inspiration from other folk – there's so much on our doorstep."

Fiona Farquhar, Tingwall

"Although we were unable to do all the things we had planned this summer, Shetland gave us so much in so many different ways – stunning beaches, breath-taking coastlines, bird colonies, Viking settlements, lighthouses, cake fridges. We bought local produce that we were lucky enough to be able to cook outdoors every day on our camping stove, which became as essential as our binoculars on our trips.

"Living in Shetland and through my work I am lucky that I do get to see a lot of Shetland, but I took the opportunity this year to spend time in the South Mainland, which I'd never truly explored as much as other areas of Shetland. I had never walked the Jarlshof to Sumburgh Head and Grutness Circular, which was amazing to see the dramatic cliffs from a different angle – looking up as opposed to looking down! It had also been years since I'd been to Jarlshof, which is a truly fascinating example of a prehistoric settlement.

"My top tip for anyone holidaying in Shetland would be: remember your plans could change due to the weather, so always have a few options. Also, make sure you carry the essentials – waterproofs, camera and binoculars!"

Ryan Leith, Lerwick

"Highlights this summer have been boat trips to Noss for the wildlife, Mousa to visit the Broch again (even though it is currently locked), Papa Stour for the caves and a trip to Foula last weekend. The weather was excellent, which meant I could get the boat close in under the towering cliffs on the west side of the island. At 376m, "Da Kame" is literally on another level compared to the rest of Shetland's cliffs.

"I enjoy exploring new areas of the coastline with my paddleboard as well as with my boat. This summer I have been to the Isle of Vementry and went ashore to see the well preserved Chambered Cairn and the WWI guns, which overlook Swarbacks Minn and St. Magnus Bay. Another excellent location is Ronas Voe. I launched my board at Heylor and paddled up the east side, crossed the mouth of the Voe (keeping my eye out for a pod of Orcas that had been sighted earlier that day) and back down the west side. There are some amazing stacks, geos and caves to be explored and if the weather is very good it is possible to paddle around to the Lang Ayre, one of Shetland's finest beaches.

"My top tip for a staycation would be to get a set of OS maps and explore some of Shetland's more remote locations. Plan a weekend's trip to the outer islands – Fair Isle, Foula, Papa Stour or Skerries. Visit the Stanes of Stofast, the Bard of Bressay, the Hams of Muckle Roe, Fitful Head or Uyea. There are some great places to visit and avoid the crowds during these strange times. Don't forget to take a compass!"

Magnie Shearer, Levenwick

"Due to the Covid-19 restrictions on movement, I've mostly explored just hame aboot – around Levenwick, and then slightly farther afield in the South End.

"Highlights have been the weather, the wildflowers, the success of the seabird breeding season and especially the abundance of heather spreading over the hills. It’s been amazing this summer.

"A walk I'd recommend is to leave from Grutness, head south along the west side past Sumburgh Farm to the lighthouse and then back up the east side to Compass Head and finally back down to Grutness. A beautiful walk on a summer's night taking in the expansive views and all the bird life.

"My advice to others is to be aware of what’s right on your doorstep. You don’t necessarily have to go far to enjoy the scenery, history and wildlife that Shetland has to offer."

Ellie Arthur, Lerwick

"I’ve been for a few day trips in Shetland since coming home from university in July after lockdown. I've been to Uyea, North Roe, Burra and various other places.

"The highlight would have to be the walk I did with my friends to Uyea. It took an hour and a half to walk there and an hour and a half back. The views once you get there are unbelievable; you wouldn’t think you were in Shetland as it looks tropical. I’d been to Uyea once before, but for most of my friends it was a new experience and they all loved it equally as much.

"My top tip for anyone planning a holiday to Shetland would be to hire a car or some other form of transport, as the best sights and views are out of the town!"

Megan Keppie, Gulberwick

"I am a keen traveller, but travelling abroad has also made me appreciate Shetland's beauty even more. We are incredibly lucky to live somewhere so beautiful and I wouldn't have wanted to spend lockdown anywhere else.

"I have been back to some of my favourite spots this summer, including Lang Clodie Wick, Uyea, Roesand, Muckle Roe, Deepdale, Westerwick, da Grind o da Navir, da Ness of Burgi, da Red Pool at Virkie... the list goes on.

"I have been to the Hams of Roe and the Muckle Roe lighthouse countless times over the years, but the full 20km hike around the coastline was spectacular! My favourite spot will always be the beach at Bungil, made beautiful by Muckle Roe's famous red granite cliffs. .

"Some new things I have done this summer have included swimming in the Burra "swimming pool", a big rock pool near Hamnavoe, and staying in the Littlelure Bothy. The Burra swimming pool has been very popular this summer and I finally made it along at sunset with my friend the other week. Laughing until your sides hurt in a natural ice bath is definitely one way to make you feel alive!

"Staying in the Littlelure Bothy after our day trip to Vaila rounded off a brilliant day perfectly. The Bothy has no wifi, signal or electricity and was a wonderful break from reality in the most tranquil spot. Watching the sunset with Foula on the horizon, the fire burning, the sea lapping on the shore and putting the world to rights with my friend was perfect. I would absolutely recommend a stay at the Littlelure Bothy and will definitely be going back again.

"My top tip to people planning a staycation in Shetland would be to give yourself time. There is so much that Shetland has to offer so depending on where you are based for your staycation, choose a few locations nearby and don't feel like you have to rush through every bucket list location in the area. Give yourself time to enjoy and appreciate the beauty of our isles!"

Kate Moncrieff, Aith

"A summer highlight for us was Vementry Isle – you need to have access to a boat to get here but it’s lovely. There are lochs for fishing and pebble beaches for swimming and lovely scenery. Another highlight, for my husband Lewis, was the sunset at Westerwick. We also loved fishing in a loch in Aith where Lewie, our seven year old, caught two 2lb brown trout on his own. Sandsound is always a highlight every time we go, too. It’s a lovely peaceful place with the most perfect pebble beach and the most perfect view.

"I would recommend the Culswick broch to people. It’s a good walk with a good track road all the way in, so it’s accessible and not too hard a walk. We went with our three boys, aged seven, five and three, and although the three year old needed a little bribe to keep going, the carton of juice that was offered was enough to keep him walking for around five of the six kilometres! There’s also a couple lochs on route, so that kept the boys happy as we took the rods with us and managed to catch a couple of trout.

"My top tip would be just get out and make the most of a the day. There’s so much to do and see and always a place to go in all weathers! There’s always a sheltered beach in Shetland, too."

Jack Sandison, Lerwick

"This summer we've been enjoying Unst, the Hams of Roe, Burra and Northmavine. We adore camping at the picturesque beaches in Unst. There are fantastic views, lots to do, it's easily accessible, with great facilities and friendly faces. A highlight of the holidays was an overnight stay at Busta House before heading out to the Hams of Roe for a stunning walk the next day.

"My advice to visitors would be to expect the unexpected, come prepared and enjoy the natural beauty of Shetland. Don’t forget the midge repellent in the summer and the warm clothes in the winter. Wetsuits, fishing rods and bikes are a must. I highly recommend taking a good dram and a guitar to have by the fire... you will get along just fine with the locals. Enjoy!"

Joy Allan, Scalloway

"Initially, as midsummer approached and we were still in lockdown, we spent most evenings chasing sunsets and flying kites from the hills surrounding us in Scalloway. Living quite centrally we are well positioned for day trips to lots of brilliant places, once restrictions lifted we spent a lot of time on the beaches and coasts of the South Mainland and Burra.

"When holidaying at home we are always drawn to places that are 'the end of the road'. We had wonderful stay in Eshaness among all its fantastic geological wonders, introducing the bairns to the Grind o da Navir was very special and they always love to see The Dore Holm or "the drinking dinosaur" as they call it. We recently returned from our annual week in Sandness by the beach. I think we were in the car once during our week there, all thanks to the weather playing ball and the miles of coastline to explore. We still have a week in Unst in October to look forward to, which will be brilliant as it always is! Having three children, we like to have a good base where we can go to lots of places on foot, by bike or a short run in the car and all of these places have so much to offer in such a short distance, you can never fit in everything so there's always a good reason to return another time.

"One of my personal highlights of this summer was being up in the hills at 1am with my eldest daughter gazing at the beauty of the simmer dim. If it hadn't been for lockdown she would have been tucked up in bed to be up for school the next day and missed such a magical moment. Other highlights have been the slower pace of life, more time to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends and many swims, snorkels, bonfires, sunsets, moon rises, cook ups on driftwood fires, orca watching, heather berry picking and some lovely birthday celebrations by the sea.

"For anyone planning a staycation here, just remember that you will still be in Shetland with its unpredictable weather! Go with an open mind and be prepared to enjoy yourself whether it's warm and sunny or a wet northerly gale. We've had holidays in all weathers here and have enjoyed every single one of them."

Inspired? Please continue to share your adventures on social media using the #RediscoverShetland hashtag. And, for more holiday inspiration take a look at the Things to Do section of this website.

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