It’s a wrench to leave beautiful Unst and make our way back to Shetland, but we’ve lots more to see, so we return via the ferries, first to Yell. Slightly larger than Unst, Yell seems almost entirely to consist of peat bog, swathes of bog cotton decorating it and areas where it’s been cut and bagged ready for collection. I get a sense it’s even more sparsely populated than Unst although it may not be so. The aptly named ‘Midyell’, half way across the island looks to be the biggest community.
Then we take the ferry from Yell over to Shetland. We are headed to Brae and Deltings Marina, where we are booked in. Many of the Shetland island sites are at marinas, where there are electric hook-ups, showers and sometimes kitchen facilities, too. These services are shared with boat users, of which, of course there are many as on all islands.
Brae is quite a large village in Shetland terms, sprawling around a large bay, and even has a small co-op supermarket, something we haven’t seen for days! It is also home to an award-winning fish and chip restaurant, which is a pleasant find.
Above the marina building there’s a patch of grass where a few tents are pitched, housing a group of young girls who are clearly enjoying the start of their school holidays. They appear on the jetty in wet suits and proceed to leap into the harbour or push each other in, shrieking, climbing out and beginning again. After their dip they clamber up on to the quay and shower using the hosepipe. Later they wander down in pyjamas for an impromptu game of badminton. They are a lovely, uplifting sight as they enjoy the outdoors and each others’ company.
We set off towards the north of Shetland, travelling to the north west, where the landscape becomes wilder and more rugged than ever and when the coastline appears it’s spectacular and can rival any coastline in the world for views. On the way towards Eshaness Lighthouse we pass a cafe/campsite, perched high above the sea with a stunning outlook, although there is nothing else around except for the cafe.
Further along, out to sea there’s an amazing island with an archway that looks as if it’s suspended somehow, an unearthly sight. This is Dore Holm, looking like a horse drinking the sea, its neck stretching down into the waves.
At Eshaness there’s the remnants of an ancient volcano. We pull up by the lighthouse and walk down across the springy, peaty turf to a giant scar in the earth, a gorge with sheer rock walls and dark, oily sea at the bottom. It’s a haven for seabirds who’ve taken over every tiny ledge. Again, we’ve got this wild, beautiful place almost to ourselves. We walk around the end and to the cliff edge and I spot what looks very much like an ancient spear head, lying on the turf. Husband is convinced, although it seems unlikely. But I pick it up anyway, because we can always say that it is!!
Next week: Sumburgh and the Puffins!
Grace is also known as the novelist, Jane Deans. Her new novel, The Conways at Earthsend is now out and available from Amazon, Waterstones, Goodreads, W H Smith, Pegasus Publishing and many more sites. Visit my author page on Facebook: (1) Jane Deans, Novellist, Short Fiction and Blog | Facebook