A ferry ride east from the bustling centre of Lerwick into another world is Bressay – a quiet, rural island with friendly people. The 340 residents are still grieving the closure of the single school and celebrating the re-opening of the only hotel in the island. The hotel houses the pub in the island. An Anglo-Bulgarian couple bought the premises after being closed for 3 years. They have invested time and money to refurbish the place and make their living out of it for the past 18 months. Now, the Maryfield House attracts locals to the pub, people from Lerwick looking for a different dinning option and random tourists from all over the world.
The pub has a collection of shields from the Up Helly Aa festival in Shetland. Some date from the 70s and had been semi-abandoned in the island resident’s attics. It was the perfect ambience for an English vs. Colombia world cup game. And the celebrations that continued into the night.
Otters are the largest member of the weasel family. Without fat to keep them warm, otters have to eat constantly to make up for the energy needed to maintain their body temperature. Some have even been seen taking rabbits. Otters may live in salt water, but they need regular access to freshwater to clean their fur. A small puddle will do.
Otters can be shy and elusive, but with patience and a few tricks there’s a good chance of seeing one. In Shetland, due to the long hours of summer daylight, otters have become used to going around in daytime as opposed to being nocturnal as in most other parts the world. In early summer female otters can be seen showing their cubs (usually two) how to hunt in the shallows of the kelp forest of Shetland. Like these two. Summer is also when the older cubs start exploring new territory.
To be successful in otter spotting, it is important to remember that otters have good smell and bad eye sight so, avoid your silhouette breaking the skyline. Also, make sure the wind is not blowing towards the otters as your scent will scare them off. Finally add in a small dose of luck and there they are.
Shetland is a group of islands located in the North Sea, North of Scotland and West of Norway. Unst, the most northerly populated island in Britain, is often known as the island above all others. Population: 600.
The Hermaness National Nature Reserve, up top Unst, has magnificent views during its walk in the high cliffs. This walk is also full of up close encounters with sea birds, especially the Great Skua (or Bonxie as the locals know it) as here is a breeding ground for them. These birds can be quite aggressive in breeding season, so sticking to the path is the best caution whilst walking.
Even further North than Unst is the Muckle Flugga Lighthouse, built on a pinnacle of rock in Oost (Out of Stack) that rises 61m above the sea, and is frequently overtopped by unbroken waves. This is Britain’s most northerly lighthouse. Three people manned this remote spot, ferried with supplies when they could.
The lighthouse was known originally as North Unst Lighthouse. In 1964 its name changed to Muckle Flugga — derived from the Old Norse for ‘large steep-sided island’.
Puffins, or clifftop clowns, have one of the biggest colonies here, in a tucked away British island somewhere between Scotland and Norway.
As advertised, Shetland is a birdwatchers paradise and these little fellows share the impressive cliffs with gannets, fulmars, guillemots, razorbirds, kittiwakes and shags.
Their beaks full of colour remind me of toucans, but puffins are not graceful landing nor flying. If anything they are rather clumsy and quite comical. They use their colourful beaks and powerful legs to dig out the same burrows where each spring puffin couples return to procreate.
How many can you count?