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Ponies & Puffins of Shetland (Road Trip Part 2)

Drawn to the compelling scenery by the great TV detective show, we had to include Shetland in our June road trip. The "road" to Shetland from Aberdeen, Scotland involves a 12.5 hour ferry ride, which these days is quite comfortable. We were able to book a pet-friendly sleeping cabin, and along with our dogs, we weathered the overnight journey pretty well despite some rolling seas. The ferry reminded me of a mini cruise ship with its movie theatre, restaurant, and bar.



We tried to pack as lightly as we could for this car trip. (But add in two dog carriers and beds, a month's supply of dog food, hiking boots/poles/backpacks, a cooler, plus a couple of suitcases, and our car is pretty full!) Nevertheless in Shetland we were really regretting the absence of winter coats, hats, and gloves. It may be June, and Shetland does average 10 degrees warmer than places at the same northerly latitude, but it sure is windy and the week of our visit was unseasonably cold, with rain on-and-off every day. I felt so badly for all the livestock who live outdoors year-round - no barns for the sheep, cattle, and ponies. The island doesn't have any trees either, so there is never any shelter. The lambs especially looked miserable to me this week, but they still seem to thrive. I was thrilled by the sweet little lamb who wanted to make friends with me as we crossed her pasture on the trail to a viewpoint.



Shetland has a kind of stark beauty. It is empty moorland, rolling hills, watery inlets and lots of ocean. The capital is Lerwick ("LAIR-ick") but even that is a pretty small town. Other little settlements dot the island. We rode with another couple and a guide to the northern isles, taking two short ferry rides to arrive on Yell and Unst. We had an isolated wildlife reserve all to ourselves. Robin has been thrilled to see the variety of birds who inhabit these remote places.



On Sunday Robin drove us to Sumburgh, the southern tip of the main island and another bird preserve. Here we were lucky enough to see puffins up close - first time seeing one for me! They are not afraid of humans, and I was ecstatic to spend some time with them. (And yes Mom I know there are puffins in Maine, but they are not an everyday sight!)



A few final observations about Shetland this June: 1.) It never gets dark! The sun goes down for a few hours, but there is always some light in the sky. 2.) Along with fishing and tourism, North Sea oil has brought prosperity to the island. I visited a huge state-of-the-art fitness complex with an Olympic size pool, squash courts, and all-modern exercise equipment. It was one of an island-wide chain subsidized by oil company grants. 3.) Knowing the islands have been inhabited for thousands of years makes it all the more interesting. We visited the ruins at Jarlshof, one of many pre-historic sites which preserve a glimpse into the earliest settlers. 4.) We enjoyed two amazing dinners at a French restaurant in Lerwick called C'est la Vie. The owners moved to Shetland from France, I'm not sure why, but they cook beautifully! We also enjoyed a visit to the 24-hour "Cake Fridge," where on the honor system you can leave payment and help yourself to island-made goodies.



Shetland: you were windswept and cold; but there was much to love about you.


Next: The islands of Orkney, Harris and Lewis.


🐑 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 ⛴️

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Host
(12. 6.)

Spectacular photos! Thank you.

Wendy🌸

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Host
(10. 6.)

that was me, Sally. Take care.


Joey says hello. He just got vaccinated so will do some serious napping. I can't imagine him on the ferry

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Host
(10. 6.)

Wow, puffins and baby lambs. Sounds like you are having nthe right place at the right time. All quiet and green here.

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Host
(10. 6.)

Kim, Thank you for taking us along on your adventures! Abbie

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