Wild about Shetland
When Viola invited me to contribute to Island Dreams 2020, I felt honoured and jumped at the opportunity to pen my love of this archipelago for her project. Shetland is this very special place where I live, love, share and celebrate without bounds.
From the O(ld) N(orse), Hjaltland is above all the Old Viking name to my home islands, wir Auld Rock, as we love to call Shetland.
To get back to da Auld Rock is to go hame, or home… Or heim if you are Norwegian in search of cultural connection, or sailing adventures.
I have always regarded Shetland as a collection of hidden gems inside a blue (or jade… Or metallic grey, as our sky defines it!) casket. Living on the fringe of Scotland – as north as you can go, and yet full of surprises. Together with Orkney, Shetland form the Northern Isles.
Yet each island group remains distinctive in every way – including flags and dialects – and both have to be explored.
An adventurer’s paradise
Nestled between a sea and an ocean on the 60th parallel, da Auld Rock has everything to offer. From history, language, culture, food to nature. And our natural world is magic! After all, it is not for nothing naturalist & TV Broadcaster Simon King once defined it as one of Britain’s last corners of utter wilderness...
Wild and spacious, looking towards St. Ninian’s Isle in the North Atlantic.
Ideally situated at the crossroads with Scotland and the Nordic world (Norway to the East, Faroe & Iceland, North West) we are both the most northerly edge of the UK and the Scandinavian corner of Scotland!
Whilst Orkney has wonderful, lush gentle slopes and rounded heads, Shetland offers both gentle and more rugged landscapes (from mini-fjords to towering cliffs via miles of moorland) with a greater diversity of habitats (due to its own collection of rocks, ranging from soapstone to serpentine, via sandstone, limestone or pink granite to name but a few…) which, in turn, offers unparalleled wildlife at and around 60N… In one word, breathtaking.
Shetland ponies in buttercups
We are a maritime world, and what best but discover it from the sea – highly recommended in summer, as our Roost (the open area where tides from the North Sea and Atlantic collide) feels far friendlier than in winter…
Looking towards Hellister (headland, left) and Norway!
Hame is a land where we lose sight of horizon, as sea and sky become one…
Hame is a land where boats are more than a way of life… If an Orcadian is a farmer with a boat, a Shetlander is a sailor with a peerie (small) plot of land.
Whilst only two inhabited islands are accessible by one-way bridges, a boat will take you about everywhere, including to birds!
Hame is anchored in history, from the very earliest human settlements to today, where we have made a close-knit community.
South Shetland Up-Helly-Aa, a unique fire fest postponed till 2021 due to CO-VID times…
Curious about it? Jarlshof remains one of our most impressive archaeological sites that is so unique in Britain, for it offers us a time walk unrivalled… Another hidden gem!
From Dunrossness to Unst, our most northerly inhabited isle, the land is littered with Norse and pre-Norse treasures.
Nature, naturally natural!
Hame is that place to get away from it all! Throw away your watch to the sea, and dare ask time to a selkie…
“Just give me five minutes, will you???”
From flora to marine and avifauna, we are ruled by nature, in turn, ruled by seasons and the sky.
You too are a keen nature lover? Then Shetland is for you!
Shetland so inspiring…
From the darkest nights, at times coloured by our Northern Lights (Mirrie Dancers) in winter to our azure nights (Simmer Dim), where our sky’s filled with birdsong, Shetland is alive.
Aurora Borealis from my back garden.
But in summer…
Blue night known locally as Simmer Dim.
Here, dare to virtually explore further : nordicblackbird60n for I love to record my homeworld as a photographer.
The magic latitude
This is hame, home, as I live and love it. So I speak, share and write about it as a poet with so much passion. When the time is right, and if you too wish to leap to this Auld Rock, stay for a while, and want to walk this shore with me, your adventure will truly start either on board MV Hrossey or Hjaltland.
Et si vous voulez tout cela en français, je me ferai une immense joie de partager ma maison shetlandaise avec vous.
Suivez-moi… Follow me
See you soon, and fair winds!