The Shetland Isles are the most northerly group of islands associated with Scotland, over 100 in total, only 15 of them are inhabited, making the area an extremely friendly place for wildlife.
Shetland enjoys the benefits of the Gulf Stream, a temperate, oceanic climate touching the West Coast of Scotland before looping round the north, so despite its northerly location, it still enjoys warm summers.
It is easy to get to Shetland with regular air and sea services. Explore as many islands as you can, they are all different and offer beauty in the form of scenery, wildlife and archaeology.
In mid summer Shetland boasts almost 19 hours of sunlight. Fancy a game of golf at midnight anyone?
Shetland has seemed to be some kind of magnet for thousands of years to marauding warriors on planned expeditions, along with fishermen, traders, explorers and smugglers. Even the Romans are said to have travelled this far north, naming the cluster of 100 islands, Ultima Thule.
Vikings, Norsemen and Danes along with seafarers from other countries landed and made their home here, seasoning further the culture that can be experienced here today.
In the ninth century Norsemen voyaged in their long ships in search for new lands across the sea. Caithness, the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland all succumbed to the powerful might of the Vikings. From 872 AD the natives gave way to them and after the warriors, came farmers and their families and with them, a whole new culture establishing a powerful Viking earldom in Orkney.
Scandinavian rule was to last in Shetland until the mid 15th
century until it was given to Scotland as a dowry, although the Scandinavian influence prevails even to this day.
The Vikings took their law and their language wherever they went and most of Shetland's place names are derived from the Viking language.
One of the most interesting and complex archaeological sites in all Britain can be found at Jarlshof, a spectacular and enduring reminder of Scotland's heritage. Wheelhouses and brochs, hearths and troughs reflecting the way of life of a bygone era were revealed by a storm along with the masonry of an entire settlement.
Shetland's Scandinavian past is revived every year. Up Helly Aa, an annual event, entails a procession of a thousand torchcarriers with a squad of Vikings in full battle dress and a longship, which is dragged through the streets of Lerwick, before it is burned ceremoniously.
Northlink Orkney and Shetland Ferries
NorthLink Ferries car ferry service to the Orkney, Shetland Islands and Aberdeen.