Usually added into a map of Scotland in a little box to the side, the Shetland Islands truly are in a world of their own. On the main land you can find white sandy beaches that would rival any abroad, cliffs where a choppy sea crashes against the bottom and weather that can be a little unpredictable.
On this far out island you’ll find the largest tombolo in the UK connecting south-west mainland Shetland to St Ninian’s Isle. Stretching for 500 metres, the tombolo makes the isle accessible during the summer months but during the winter it is usually covered by high tide and sometimes you can’t get across it at all.
If you visit while you can get across to the isle you’ll find lots of sheep as well as nesting sea birds. This part of the island lets you see just how quickly the landscape can change from a quiet sandy bay to an island surrounded by rough stormy seas.
Further north on West Burra you’ll find another smaller tombolo at Banna Minn beach, with white sand and turquoise waters you could be mistaken for being abroad. If the sun is out you’ll need to get here quick as there is limited places to park. If you’re planning to use public transport then you will be able to get the bus to Papil which is the nearest village.
Travelling further up the coast and back onto the mainland you’ll reach Scalloway, the old capital of Shetland. Steeped in history it’s home to Scalloway Castle which dates back to the 1600’s being built by Patrick Stewart the 2nd Earl of Orkney. The remains of the castle is open to visitor and contains information about what each of the rooms would previously have been used for.
Head toward the north east of mainland you’ll discover Eshaness Cliffs. Here it’s hard to imagine that you’re only a short distance away from the golden sands of Banna Minn when you step out of the car to be battered by the wind. If you’re brave enough to withstand the strong winds then you can complete the Eshaness Circular walk which is around 6km. Here you’ll be able to see how the rough Atlantic Ocean has changed the formation of cliffs over time with sections such as Calder’s Geo.
If you’re further south in the Isle’s capital, Lerwick, then there is plenty to see and do here too. If you’re a fan of the BBC show Shetland, head down to the Lodberries area of Commercial Street to see D.I Jimmy Perez’s house. If you fancy an easy walk along the coast head to the Sletts before stopping in at Fjara Café Bar for a coffee. When you’re there try and grab a seat by the window if you fancy staring out over Breiwick Bay to catch a glimpse of the seals.
They’re not easy to find but it is brilliant when you come across the otters in the Clikimin Loch. If you fancy a taking a picture you’ll have to be quick as they tend to be a little people shy.
If you’re there in the summer then you’re bound to see a phenomenon known as a simmer-dim; this is where there is night long twilight. The photo below was taken at 1am at Lerwick harbour.
With the weather being so unpredictable you’re best to take a range of clothing, although mostly warm clothes, as the weather rarely gets above the high teens. It’s definitely somewhere where you can take beautiful pictures, meet amazingly friendly people and relax in the laid back atmosphere of the island.