A quick introduction
People have lived in Whalsay for at least 4,000 years. Traces of former settlement include hilltop burial cairns and prehistoric field boundaries as well as the Neolithic houses of Yoxie and the Beenie Hoose at Pettigarths Field.
Between the 15th and 17th centuries, Whalsay, along with the rest of Shetland, became a trading port of the Hanseatic League. Ships from Hamburg, Bremen and Lubeck sailed here every summer, bringing seeds, cloth, iron tools, salt, spirits, luxury goods and hard currency.
Whalsay's fishing legacy lived on throughout the centuries and today it's still a proud fishing community, home to a fleet of trawlers as well as plenty of smaller boats and sea craft. It is one of the more densely populated of the Shetland islands, with a population of around 1,000.
How to get to Whalsay
Whalsay is accessible by car ferry from Laxo, 20 miles north of Lerwick. The crossing to Symbister takes 25 minutes and it's advisable to book during peak season. For timetables and booking information, see the Ferry Services website.