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Shetland – More than a home for ponies

Most people think of Shetland ponies when they hear about this sub-arctic group of islands in Scotland, which lie about 50 miles north east of Orkney, but its remote location has enabled many ancient relics to survive.

There are around 100 islands in Shetland, but only 16 are currently inhabited. The largest is simply known as Mainland. One of the uninhabited islands, Mousa, has one of the best preserved examples of an Iron Age round tower, called the Broch of Mousa.

Shetland holds a few “records” because of its location in the UK. For example: St Ninian’s Isle is connected to Mainland by the largest active tombolo in the UK. A tombolo is a piece of land that joins what is called a tied island and you can usually walk across this when it is not covered by water.

Out Stack, is the northernmost point of the British Isles and the most northerly castle in the United Kingdom is Muness Castle.

Shetland’s main source of income is oil, agriculture, fishing, renewable energy and some tourism. 

Reasons to visit Shetland

Shetland is not perhaps a place for the ‘average’ tourist, but certainly a great location for those interested in historic areas like the midden site at West Voe on the south coast of Mainland, dating back to 4320 BC. There are also many reminders of more recent events, including the Scandinavian influence, when Norsemen colonised Shetland in the late 8th and 9th centuries.

Places to see in Shetland include: Seabirds and Seals (a boat trip that operates from Lerwick), The Northern Lights Holistic Spa (also in Lerwick), Jarlshof Prehistoric and Norse Settlement (Mainland) and the Tangwick Haa Museum.

Entertainment and Dining in Shetland

You probably would not come here just for the nightlife, but the area does have traditional fiddle style music and its own brand of folk music. The area is not overrun with restaurants (or pubs), so most of the restaurants will be found in hotels (like The Shetland Hotel and Lerwick Hotel)

Accommodation in Shetland

Hotels, guest houses, B&Bs, self catering properties, hostels and camping sites are the choices. Hotels with good reviews include: Shetland Hotel, Lerwick Hotel, St. Magnus Bay Hotel and the Busta House Hotel.