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Clare
Clare

Day 5: Orkney to Shetland

The sea was quite calm as we left Orkney and I think we both fell asleep fairly quickly, despite the fact that we could hear a chorus of car alarms going off somewhere underneath us. As we were boarding the ferry, one of things we'd been asked to do was to disable the alarm on our car. We weren't sure whether the car had an alarm, much less how to disable it. The helpful staff member had recommended that, if we weren't sure, we should follow a number of steps including leaving the car window slightly open to override the alarm system. At the point at which we were going to sleep, Tim remembered that he'd forgotten one of the steps: leaving the car unlocked. Unfortunately, I didn't think it was allowed to go back down to the car deck once the ferry was in motion, so we just decided to leave it an hope for the best.

Shortly after we'd fallen asleep, we were woken up again by someone knocking on our door to tell us that ours was one of the car alarms going off. Oops :o Luckily the staff member was very helpful and, when Tim explained what had happened, took the keys and went back down to the car deck to unlock the car for us, leaving them behind reception for Tim to collect again in the morning. After all the car alarms had been similarly sorted out, the night was a lot more peaceful! At some point in the early hours of the morning when we were further out to sea, the sea did become a lot rougher and we were both woken up at various points by huge waves. Sleeping on a boat felt harder than sleeping on a train, because the movement of the waves was more unpredictable. But booking the cabin definitely made it possible to get some sleep at least :)

The ferry was due to arrive in Lerwick at 07.30 and I had my alarm set for 7am. That turned out to be unnecessary, because the captain made an announcement at 06.30 to wake everybody up xD I wasn't terribly impressed at losing some of my intended sleeping time, but once I'd come round a bit I had to admit that it was fun to be able to look out the window of our cabin and get a first glimpse of Shetland.

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We had a kettle in our cabin so we were able to have a coffee while we enjoyed the view.

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I also made use of the free onboard Wi-Fi to google "best place to have breakfast in Lerwick" and came up with a place called Fjara Café Bar, just outside the centre of town. We disembarked from the ferry and headed straight there.

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It turned out to be a really lovely place, with great views out across the water, and the breakfast was so good I decided it was worth taking the overnight ferry just to eat here xD 

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From the car park outside the cafe, we could see back towards the centre of Lerwick...
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...as well as further out down the coast.

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Because we'd booked this trip at pretty short notice we didn't have firm plans for today, so while we were waiting for our food we spent some time reading the Shetland chapter of the Highlands & Islands guidebook. Having consulted that, we decided to drive west in the first instance, towards the town of Scalloway.

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The guidebook had said that the views upon approaching the town were spectacular, and indeed they were.

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We hadn't been on Shetland very long, but we'd already noticed that some of the houses looked far more Scandinavian in style than British.

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Looking at houses like this, we could easily have been in Iceland or Norway rather than Scotland.

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It was lovely to see some colourful houses too, because everything in Orkney yesterday had been very, very grey!

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We parked the car in Scalloway and had a walk around.

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It felt like a small village, but historically it was the capital of Shetland, losing out to Lerwick in 1708.

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During the Second World War, Scalloway was the headquarters for an operation known as the "Shetland Bus", which provided support to the resistance movement in occupied Norway.

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I wouldn't fancy crossing the sea to Norway in a small fishing boat, but technically Shetland is closer to Bergen than London :o 

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The main landmark in Scalloway is the castle, whose ruins you can see in the picture below.

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While we were admiring the view towards the castle we got caught in a sudden burst of rain, so we jogged back to the car to move on to our next destination. When reading the guidebook this morning Tim had realised that from Scalloway you can drive across a bridge to another couple of small islands, Trondra and Burra, so that's where we were heading next.

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The weather brightened up considerably as we were driving along, and by the time we reached the bottom part of Burra the sun was shining.

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We parked the car in a small car park and followed a signpost towards a beach.

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This was Meal beach.

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I'm not quite sure what I expected from Shetland, but it definitely wasn't golden sands like this.

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It was a really beautiful place to visit :) 

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Once we were back in the car, we drove back to the main island (also called Mainland!) and began driving south towards the sourthernmost tip of Shetland.

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We travelled at a slow pace, pausing to take pictures from roadside viewpoints.

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Away from the one main road, most of the other roads were single track. There wasn't a lot of other traffic though!

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We were exceptionally lucky with the weather today, getting views out towards smaller, presumably uninhabited islands...

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...and also of cliffs on the coast of the main island.

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Several of the roadside parking places that we stopped in had signs asking people not to litter. At least, we assume that's what they're saying xD

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Every time we turned a corner, the views seemed more spectacular.

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We followed a turning down a small road, which was signposted "Loch of Spiggie".  The loch itself didn't seem anything special...

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...but the drive to get there had definitely been worth it.

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We took a diversion to another beautiful sandy beach...

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...and then we were almost at Sumburgh Head, right at the bottom of the island.

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Sumburgh Head Lighthouse is right at the end of the road.

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The lighthouse itself is closed at the moment because of the pandemic, so we were the only people in the car park.

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It was worth coming for the views of the sea on both sides :) 

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The cliffs here were pretty impressive too!

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In order to get anywhere else we had to retrace our steps pretty much as far as Lerwick. Leaving Sumburgh Head behind, we drove past Shetland's main airport. The road actually crosses the runway here and on the way to the lighthouse we'd had to wait at a level crossing barrier while a plane landed.

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We still had some time to kill before we were able to check into our apartment at 15.00, so we drove towards the west of the island.

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We were following a road towards a place called Sandness.

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There was absolutely nothing there, but the drive to get to it was spectacular.

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We passed several little lochs...

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...mile and miles of countryside covered in heather...

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...plus a large quantity of sheep, who had a tendency to wander out across the road!

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Once we got to Sandness we turned around and returned by the same route to Lerwick.

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Once in Lerwick we stopped at a small supermarket to stock up on some supplies, then headed to the accommodation to check in. It was another self check-in with key codes, so we managed to sneak in slightly early :D  We're staying here for two nights and have got a lovely apartment.

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The bedroom has a desk, which has been useful for catching up on the blog :) 

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And the living room has big windows with an amazing view of the hills behind Lerwick.

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Our first day on Shetland has been great and I'm definitely looking forward to exploring more tomorrow :) 



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