One Way to do Lerwick and The Shetland Islands

Lerwick and the Shetland Islands were an itinerary call last year while we were cruising on Celebrity Infinity…

https://solentrichardscruiseblog.com/2014/07/10/celebrity-infinity-to-iceland-and-the-fiords/

For this visit my wife and I had booked a shore excursion through Cruising Excursions.com entitled ‘North West Shetland and Eshaness’.

Lerwick is the capital of the Shetlands and is a tender port…

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Our excursion was due to depart from Lerwick at 9.00 am so we took an early tender ashore in order to see a little of Lerwick itself…

Needless to say there was not a great deal to see in Lerwick at that time of day. Lots of quiet, dainty narrow streets…

An old Widow’s home with a rather novel garage roof to the front of it…

 

…and the Old Tolbooth building…

…which has had a multitude of uses since being built in 1767,  including a masonic lodge, a school, a courthouse and a prison. Today it is home to Britain’s busiest lifeboat station.

Without any doubt the most attractive of Lerwick’s heritage sites is Fort Charlotte

…which occupies a commanding position and view over the harbour…

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Our visit to Fort Charlotte concluded our Lerwick walking tour and we returned to the landing jetty where our mini-bus excursion was due to leave.

 

Our first stop was Scalloway, until 1708 the capital of the Shetlands…

 

…which on closer inspection is dominated by Scalloway Castle…

…which is open to visitors. The Great Hall must have been an impressive place in the Castle’s heyday…

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The castle is well endowed  with information boards. Who would have thought this area was a vaulted Storeroom…

Adjacent to the castle is Scalloway Museum…

Run by volunteers, the Scalloway Museum is owned by a charity, the Shetland Bus Friendship Society.

The ‘Shetland Bus‘ was the name given to clandestine operations to and from occupied Norway during the war. The full story of the memorial and the Shetland Bus are told in the War section of this museum.

Our tour went one better. Continuing on and to  the far side of Scalloway we stopped at that aforementioned memorial…

The story is told via a number of boards adjacent to the memorial…

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…and on a nearby plaque…

 

Our excursion continued and our next stop was at Mavis Grind

 

A derivation of an  old Norse name, Mavis Grind, meaning ‘gate of the narrow isthmus’, is a narrow piece of land joining the Northmavine Peninsular to the rest of the Shetland mainland. At  just 33 metres wide at its narrowest point it is said to be the only place in the United Kingdom  where you can toss a stone across land from the North Sea to the Atlantic Ocean...

 

Similar points of interest that we passed on our journey, the Voe settlement

 

The family firm of T M Adie and Sons was founded in Voe around 1830…

 

…at the traditional centre and most attractive part of Voe where the pier projects into Olna Firth. The pier was at the heart of a herring station that was set up here in the 1800s. Olna Firth was also home to a whaling station operated by the Norwegian Whaling Company from 1904 until 1924.

Voe is actually as far from the open sea as it is possible to get in Shetland and is a fine example of the way the influence of the sea pervades every part of these islands.

The pier at Voe has recently been extensively rebuilt to allow the development of a marina. Post visit research uncovered this excellent aerial video taken over Olna Firth…

 

And so we arrived at the Eshaness Peninsular…

 

Renowned as one of the highest energy coastlines in the world,  regularly  blasted by the full force of the North Atlantic and located on one of the most dramatic landscapes in Shetland. Our first stop here was the Braewick Cafe with views  towards the famous sea stacks,  ‘The Neaps’ and ‘The Drongs’

 

The Drongs are simply outstanding…

Let’s use the zoom…

 

The solidly-built islet of Dore Holm is also visible from this southerly Esha Ness coastline. It is notable for having one of the finest natural arches in the Shetland islands…

 

 

I mentioned earlier Eshaness being billed as a high energy coastline. On the day of our visit the weather was superb and we never really got to see the weather conditions that prevail over Eshaness. Again, on post visit research I found this –  Dore Holm being treated to a Force 10 55 mph gale…

Esha Ness Lighthouse dominates the headland that affords visitors views of  the Shetland’s most dramatic coastal scenery…

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From the cliff top beside the lighthouse there is the most fantastic aspect of cliff scenery and sea stacks anywhere to be seen:  these featured in the BBC TV series ‘Coast’…

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Nearby you can walk around to the long deep chasm of Calders Geo, often referred to as  Shetland’s ‘Grand Canyon’…

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Distinct layers of ash and lava flows can be seen on the cliff faces. Reaching some 200 metres inland this sea cut inlet was once a cave before the roof c0llapsed…

On our journey between our stop at the Braewick Cafe and arrival at Esha Ness, and only a short distance from the lighthouse, I had spotted an isolated  graveyard…

…and on enquiring its history our guide  promised a stop at a cemetery that had many linked tales. It was indeed  the Cross Kirk Cemetery...

…and there certainly were some sinister or intriguing tales enshrined within its walls – though with my naval background I was more than interested in one particular gravestone of significant date…

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It was the gravestone and story surrounding the death of Donald Robertson in 1848 that made the headlines.

It was a time for fascinating discoveries in medicine, the Antarctic was explored, Queen Victoria travelled by train. Everything seemed possible and Donald became famous for being unfortunate…

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He died because Laurence Tulloch, a pharmacist in Sullom, gave him Salpeter (used as fertiliser and for making fireworks) instead of Epsom salt, a natural remedy for all kinds of ailments. Donald Robertson suffered a painful death because his blood was no more able to carry the oxygen his body needed.

Rumours abounded even speculation that the crime was homophobic…

https://graveyardsofscotland.wordpress.com/tag/shetland/

Another grave of a famous person at Cross Kirk Cemetery is that of John Williamson, who made a serum to cure smallpox in the early seventeenth century, a true pioneer of medicine…

John Williamson was also  known by the nickname Johnny Notions. The ingredients listed for his serum  included slaters [woodlice], snails, seaweed, and butter.   Many people were dying of smallpox on the island of Foula, not too far from Shetland, and Williamson was sent for. He injected sixteen people with his serum and they all lived. His serum eventually saved thousands of lives.

It certainly crossed my mind that this was a rather unremarkable grave stone to mark the resting place of one who was responsible for saving so many lives.

That concludes this insight into an excursion on the Shetland Islands.

Our excursion was booked and organised as a ‘small group tour’  ( 8 persons) through …

http://www.cruisingexcursions.com

…and at a cost of £96.00 for the two of us.

 

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4 responses to “One Way to do Lerwick and The Shetland Islands

  1. When I was in the Boy’s home the rumour was our oatmeal was laced with saltpetre to keep us quiet 😀
    Per your story we should all have died
    Thankfully must have been Epson salts
    Seriously another well researched presentation and I do love the Cunard colour of your jacket
    Well done Richard. / Rob

  2. Been there a few years ago, came on airplane.
    I loved the stone walls and buildings.
    Seems you had some sunny days, I envy you for this.
    Thanks for sharing such wonderful pictures about your many trips.
    Cheers,
    Milko

  3. Pingback: One Way to do Lerwick and The Shetland Islands | Eby Online Business·

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