South Mainland Shetland

Day 2

Plan: Since most shops are closed on Sunday I planned to hit the sights open Sunday. If we found Flavour of Shetland  interesting we could go there before driving south from Lerwick to Sumburgh Head. On the way to Sumburgh Head we’ll stop at Jarlshof, a prehistorical archaeological site before heading up to the light house to see if we can find any puffins. If time permits stop at Croft House Museum.

Sumburgh Lighthouse

On Saturday evening we followed the parade back to town and despite our nap earlier in the evening, still felt worn out.  Sleeping that night was difficult. The noise coming from the street sounded as if every one in town was out and about making the most of “simmer dim”.  I don’t know if it’s the norm around there but I did happen to noticed that one pub listed closing time as 3:00am (about 1/2 hour before sunrise).

Despite all the revelry, the town hall bells chiming every 15 minutes and the lack of darkness, we woke
up on Sunday morning bright and early for breakfast at 7:30. Over breakfast we discussed the day’s plan and decided to avoid the crowds at Flavour of Shetland and head south to enjoy the wonderful weather.

Our first stop was Jarlshof, a settlement that goes back to prehistoric times. We arrived just after it opened and for about one hour were the only ones there. The site was interesting and I enjoyed visiting the place but I’m not a prehistory buff. I figured this would interest Paul. As you can see it was a beautiful clear morning and I enjoyed the spectacular view from one of the buildings.

When we walked back to the car we noticed a local old guy selling sheep skins and a few knitted items (made by his wife) in the parking lot. We briefly talked. He mentioned how people that raise sheep on the island really don’t make much money and that wool prices weren’t good. I looked through the knitted items but didn’t see anything that caught my eye.

puffinsOur guide book mentioned puffins hang out near the lighthouse so we headed off up the hill in our car. About 1/2 mile from the lighthouse we arrived at a parking area near the gate to the lighthouse. We had to get out there and walk the rest of the way up.  It didn’t take long to find the birds. They were just beyond the other side of a short rock wall in front of the lot. At first it was difficult to get close enough for a good picture but when we walked several yards towards a cliff near the gate we got close enough to snap some good photos. Aren’t they cute? It was so fun to watch them land and take off. I later read that it’s best to look for them in the afternoon as they come home to feed the chicks after fishing all day.

At noon we decide to head down and find a place to eat. At the bottom of the hill, near Jarlshof, we popped our heads into the bar at Sumburgh Hotel to see if they had a table available. We got lucky and grabbed the last one as people started streaming in looking for a place to eat.

Mrs. Brown knitting After lunch we head north until we came across one of those signs along the road that pointed the direction to knitwear. The first one that we happened upon was the Shetland Collection. It was Sunday so I wasn’t really expecting it to be open but when we drove up and got out of the car we were cheerfully greeted by the man out front replacing plants in the garden. He fetched his wife who came from the house to opened the shop. It was a small shop but everything in there was so beautiful. Not only did she have Fair Isle garments but she also had the most delicate lace shawls. I mentioned that I was a knitter and she immediately whisked me over to her studio to show me her knitting machines and also how she does handwork using a knitting belt. I was so amazed by her enthusiasm and willingness to spend time chatting about Fair Isle knitting and her work. I just about died when she opened drawer after drawer to a small cabinet that contained Fair Isle swatches (drawer 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) all arranged by color and/or theme. What an inspiration!

In the shop she not only had Fair Isle garments but had some exquisite lace shawls. While talking about lace she mentioned Myrna Stahman’s visit last summer and that the pattern for one of the shawls will be in Myrna’s next book. Well, needless to say, I wanted to buy everything but settled for a couple of fingerless gloves and hats. I could have stayed there much longer but knew Paul was probably ready for something else.

Croft House Museum_shawl_2>We drove up the road a couple of miles and stopped at the Croft House Museum .This Happ Shawl immediately caught my attention. Click on the picture and look closer at how it’s attached to the frame. String is strung through the tips along the border and then the shawl is strung around the pegs on the edge of the frame.

This house (and probably all croft houses) only had a couple of rooms and was very dark. A smoky peet fire was burning when we stepped in which didn’t make it a very enjoyable place to hang out. After taking a quick tour of the house we went on a short jaunt along a small path down to the mill. Plenty of sheep were on either side of the path, doing whatever sheep do. A couple of times I tried to get close but they’d just run away. I don’t know if they’re always so scared of people in general or wise enough to recognize a spinner when they see  one. None looked like Shetland sheep.

Since we’d already driven the  main road to Lerwick the day we arrived Paul decide to veer left and take a small loop that leads west. We ended up at a picturesque tombolo beach that jets out to St. Ninian’s Ise. A few folks were enjoying the windy weather.

St Ninian  Isle_2

By this time the weather had changed and the sky turned grey. We headed back to Lerwick to find a place to eat dinner.

We eventually ended up at an Indian restaurant and as usual I ordered Chicken Jalfrezi. I was surprised when the waiter kept insisting that the dish I was pointing to on the menu would be to hot for me. He recommended a different Jalfrezi. To this day I’m still puzzled by this. Who in Shetland can eat that dish? I don’t remember seeing many Indians during my visit. Now I regret not ordering it and showing him that there are some white folks that do eat hot food (four – five star hot).

6 thoughts on “South Mainland Shetland

  1. Thanks so much for sharing your trip with photos. We’re being arm chair travellers with you guiding. Those swatches are marvelous and the traditional sweaters just glow.


  2. I have never been to Shetland, but have wanted to go for several years now. Your photos are inspiring and make me want to go even more. I have thoroughly enjoyed looking at them and have passed your blog onto knitting friends who I thought would also enjoy looking at them.


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