The South of Shetland

The main airport on Shetland is in Sumburgh which is all the way to the south. Once there it makes sense to discover the island from the bottom up.

About 3 km from the airport is Jarlshof, the best known prehistoric settlement on Shetland. What you see still standing though is mostly from the Viking age. When we arrived the place was actually closed. I am not sure if it was due to the weather, the weekend or the time of year. In any case we just sneaked in (the gate was open).

Jarlshof with Viking broch @Shetland

visiting Jarlshof in pounding rain @Shetland

Look, coming all the way up to Shetland and then not seeing the main attraction? No, that doesn’t work for me. Still, I do think the attraction benefits from an open visitors center and an audio guide. I’m sure the information you receive while walking around and makes the place much more alive.

Also in the area is Old Scatness, a broch (something like a tower) which was found by accident when they built the airport road. It is around 6000 years old and apparently so much more than just a broch. Probably a small village. They have even found a bear drawn in a stone which speaks of the trading that must have happened here. Because bears have never lived on this island.

Pollybert at Old Scatness @Shetland

engraved bear from Old Scatness (found in the museum in Lerwick) @Shetland

Last but not least Sumburgh also has a lighthouse with a good view over cliffs and the North Sea. Here the wind was really pounding and we had to be careful not to be swept over into the sea. You can see a video about the conditions and the cliffs here.

lighthouse of Sumburgh @Shetland

From then on we drove North to St. Ninian’s with a detour to the Loch of Spiggie. The Loch attracts apparently a lot of wildfowl of which I saw none. But the brief rays of sunshine made up for that. Also the sand dunes on the other side looked amazing (see a short video here).

Loch Spiggie with hotel The Spiggie @Shetland

the other side of Loch Spiggie @Shetland

Loch Spiggie and the sandy beach @Shetland

When we arrived at St. Ninian’s it started to pelt rain again after the brief sunshine at Spiggies.

the tombolo of St. Ninians in the rain @Shetland

I didn’t want to get out of the car, so we drove on to see the Broch of Mousa. The island of Mousa unfortunately can’t be visited in winter. The ferry doesn’t operate and there is no other way to set over. After a quick peek at the island

the island of Mousa @Shetland

we searched for a tea room and landed in the Hoswick visitor centre in Sandwick. We ingested pots of tea, scones and a lovely shepherd’s pie and managed to warm up a bit. And while we were drying the sun came out. So back we went to St. Ninian’s to see the tombolo or sandy causeway. Get a better impression with this video.

St. Ninian’s tombolo in the evening light @Shetland

because the sun was out and we walked over the tombolo to the other side. Of course once I was on the other side the sun came out and it was so beautiful.

St. Ninian’s at sunset @Shetland

From there it was only a short drive to Lerwick, the main town of Shetland and our base for the next couple of weeks. We had rented an apartment with and our hosts were the nicest people. The apartment was situated right in the historic centre of Lerwick within easy walking distance from everything. Yours, Pollybert

Lerwick centre @Shetland


  1. Do they have golf courses up there?

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