Shetland is the cross-roads of the northern seas, and is unlike anywhere else in Scotland. Covering an area of 112 miles from the most northerly point to the southern tip, it rolls out in a long vista of moor and wiry pasture, penetrated by great sea inlets. The sight and sound of the sea is almost always present, woven into the island's maritime heritage. Spectacular vertical stacks coated with seabird colonies, cliffs and coves curtained with wild-flowers, hidden white beaches on an endless coast, small crofts and settlements sheltering by the sea-edge; all these are typical Shetland scenes.
Your tour commences at the pier where you will board your coach for an enjoyable overview of all that Shetland encompasses. As you first come ashore, you will no doubt notice that the main town of Lerwick, with its narrow street and small shops, seems almost to be built on top of the water, it stands that close. Leaving Lerwick behind, the road travels south and you will soon be seeing scenic hillside vistas before tuning off the main road to travel through small agricultural areas where sheep farming is important. From your window, you'll see the distinctive black and brown Shetland sheep as they graze in pastures that are enclosed by neat dry-stone walls, the product of local quarries. While your tour travels through the agricultural land of the Central Mainland, you will also navigate across heather-clad hills to Burra Isle and to Scalloway, the former capital of the Shetlands.
Arriving in Scalloway, you will see the famous Scalloway castle, a forbidding ruin dominating the town that was built by Earl Patrick Stewart in 1600 using forced local labor. Stewart was the notorious despot who tyrannized Orkney and Shetland. It was from here that he extorted crushing taxes and fines from the people of Shetland. His cruelty eventually led to his downfall, and in 1615 he and his son were executed in Edinburgh. Built in medieval style, the roofless shell, with corner turrets and gables, stands on a narrow promontory by the water. The Earl is said to have hung his victims from an iron ring in one of the chimneys. The castle was, not surprisingly, left to rot after the Earl's death. Today, it stands side by side with the commerce of a busy fishing port, a silent sentinel to the past.
After a stop for photos, your tour route then heads towards the fertile Tingwall valley. This picturesque area boasts uninterrupted views across farmland, small lochs and streams, houses and the occasional church standing out against the skyline. The road passes a collection of farm buildings, and then suddenly there are belts of trees, the only ones of any significance on Shetland, rising abruptly amongst the barren hills.
From the comparatively tranquil landscapes of the Tingwall Valley, you make your way towards Weisdale Voe where the landscape changes dramatically. Stopping here, you'll be able to visit the small workshops of Shetland Jewelry, which manufactures a wide range of silver and gold jewelry featuring Celtic, Viking and local wildlife designs. The showroom also stocks a selection of local crafts. Following your stop here, it's time to re-board your coach for the return to Lerwick.
Please note: This tour has limited walking, mainly at the guest's discretion. The tour is considered suitable for wheelchair guests who can make their way on and off the coach. Weather appropriate clothing and flat, comfortable walking shoes are suggested. Guests should be prepared for the possibility of rain. The order of sites visited may vary.