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Shetland is a great place to relax and find peace and quiet. You can walk for miles on our hills with only Great Skuas or mountain hares for company. It's not hard to spot seals and with some luck—or a local guide—you could meet some otters or orcas.
There are more than five thousand years of history to absorb, like Mousa Broch, a forty foot Iron Age tower-house. Or enjoy the lively music and arts scene at the various galleries and venues around Shetland.
Lerwick and the Central Mainland
Lerwick began life in the seventeenth century as a trading port when the Dutch herring fleet was based there. Today, the town centre is a fascinating place to explore, with winding streets and narrow lanes.
The tourist information centre is at the Market Cross, among several shops with traditional and contemporary Shetland crafts and fine knitwear. The Shetland Museum and Archives is just north of the town centre. An award-winning building, housing archives that document every detail of Shetland’s history. The Museum also includes an art gallery showing local and touring exhibitions.
On the west side of Lerwick, the Clickimin Leisure Centre offers a wide range of facilities at the pool, health suite and various sports halls. From Lerwick, a car ferry runs to Bressay, with Noss—a National Nature Reserve—on the east side. Noss has spectacular cliffs hosting huge seabird colonies, and makes an excellent day out. You can also see the cliffs by taking a wildlife cruise from Lerwick.
The ancient capital Scalloway boasts Earl Patrick Stewart’s impressive Castle dating from 1599. The site of Shetland’s Norse parliament is north of Scalloway, and to the south are the islands of Trondra and East and West Burra, offering two excellent sandy beaches and good walks.
The South Mainland
For a beautiful beach and walk visit St Ninian’s Isle, the largest active tombolo in the UK. St Ninian's Isle was the site of a remarkable discovery in 1958, when a schoolboy found a horde of silver treasure. It is assumed to have been hidden by monks in anticipation of a Viking attack.
To the east of the mainland, the island of Mousa has the best-preserved broch in the north and west of Scotland. It is almost completely intact, some 2,000 years after it was built. You can reach Mousa by a seasonal ferry from the village of Leebitton.
At the southern tip of the mainland, Sumburgh Head Lighthouse and visitor centre is a world class attraction. In season it is an excellent place to see puffins at close quarters, as well as thousands of other seabirds and a favourite spot to look for whales, dolphins and porpoises.
The West and North
The Westside, as it’s known locally, has some beautiful landscapes, good walks and excellent trout fishing.
The highlight of the north west of Shetland’s mainland is the district of Eshaness. Ancient volcanic rock forms dramatic cliff scenery with stacks, natural arches and blowholes. There’s a local museum at Tangwick Haa that provides an insight into the area’s past.
Further north it’s a twenty-minute crossing from Toft to the island of Yell, one of the best areas to spot otters. From north Yell, other ferries will take you to Unst or Fetlar. Unst has two National Nature Reserves, at Hermaness and Keen of Hamar. From Hermaness you can see Muckle Flugga lighthouse and Out Stack, the last land in the British Isles.
Eating and Drinking in Shetland
If you want to cook, it’s easy to find fresh ingredients in the local shops and supermarkets. Look out particularly for fish, lamb and beef, from the town’s butchers and fishmongers.
Within easy reach of Hillside Brae, there are good places for lunch or dinner in Lerwick and Scalloway, as well as in other parts of Shetland. Most menus feature local produce. Indian, Chinese, Thai and Italian food are also available in Lerwick.
You can find out more by consulting the Shetland Food Directory, which lists producers and restaurants. A copy of the local phone book, the Shetland Directory, is available in each house.
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