Friday, May 20, 2016

Shetland Islands

I always say one of the best things about travelling is the people you meet. I met Megan in Northern Ireland while we were on the same tour to go see the Giant's Causeway. We just got to talking and been friends ever since! Megan is from an amazing place in Scotland that I had only heard of because of the ponies that come from there: The Shetland Islands. Today I'm letting her take over my blog to talk a bit about where she's from!

Hi there, I’m Megan! I’m from the Shetland Islands located at the far north of Scotland, in the middle of the North Sea.

When you think of Scotland a few things that come to mind probably include haggis, tartan and bagpipes. These things are the first to pop into my mind anyway. Considering Shetland is a part of Scotland the only one of these I see regularly is haggis (and that is because I love the stuff…). It is far more common to see reestit mutton, Fair Isle knitwear and fiddle & accordion music in Shetland.
Some downsides to living on Shetland include the lack of access to big shopping chains; not having reliable access to 3G internet (what even is 4G?!) and it takes one hour on a plane or 12-14 hours on a boat to reach the mainland. There are frequent transport disruptions due to weather and this can cause a lack of food in local shops. It is also very expensive to leave Shetland unless you book well in advance.
The beautiful landscapes, friendly locals and unique festivals quickly make up for the lack of these first world ‘necessities’. No matter what time of year you visit the isles, there is always something to see and do.

Up Helly Aa
Up Helly Aa Season is from January until March - in this time there are 10 fire festivals held in various locations around the isles. This includes the Lerwick Up Helly Aa, Europe's biggest and most spectacular fire festival. Want to see 1000 men dressed up as vikings, women and animals parade flaming torches around the town before throwing them into a Galley? Yeah, I would to! Head up to Shetland for the last Tuesday in January to see this fiery spectacle!

Northern Lights
Throughout the winter months Shetland is frequently graced with the beauty of what we call the Mirrie Dancers! Mostly green, but sometimes purple and red, lights dance across the sky and mesmerise you. Having lived in Shetland all my life I'm ashamed to admit I only saw them for the first time this year.
Fantastic walks
Shetland's never-ending coastline and rugged hills make for amazing walks with beautiful views as a reward. I actually have a Shetland bucket list which is mostly full of beautiful walks and islands which I have never visited. This list has grown vastly since my discovery of a website dedicated to showing you Shetland walks! If there is a particular area of Shetland you would like to explore, you can search for walks in the area and the website tells you the distance of the walk and how long it should take you!

Shetland is full of brochs, archeological sights and evidence of our Norse heritage. Our local museum is well worth a visit to take you back in time to life during the viking times, highland clearances and both world wars. The Scalloway museum, set right beside the Scalloway caste, hold the history of Shetland's previous capital and that of the Shetland Bus.

As well as being home to the Shetland pony, we also have one of the best viewing points for puffins in Britain. Seals, otters and various bird species are dotted all over our coastline. We are even lucky to be visited by pods of orcas (killer whales) on the odd occasion.

I could go on for hours about how much I love where I am from. There are downsides to living on an island in the middle of the north sea, but in my mind the positives definitely outweigh the negatives. To make up your mind, you'll just have to make your way up here for a visit. No matter the time of year, or the weather, there is always something to do.

I don't know about you, but I am most definitely going to Shetland one day (soon!). The breathtaking landscape of Scotland never fails to amaze me and Shetland seems like a hidden gem that we all need to see.

You can follow Megan's travels on her blog, Travel and Trowie Tales, and as well as on instagram

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