The Shetland Islands: The UK's Most Northernly Everything!
Confession: I am an Anglophile. I love all things that come from the United Kingdom. My major in college was history, and the majority of my classes focused on British history and the countries impacted by the nation's empire building.
In all of my studies and love for the country, I must admit that I knew very little about the Shetland Islands. I knew they existed, because I knew about Shetland ponies. I was once a seven year old girl with a horse obsession, so of course I knew about Shetland ponies! Additionally, I knew that there are famous sweaters from a place called Fair Isle, but I did not really understand that Fair Isle was an actual place and not just a style (oh how embarrassing).
But now I know a whole lot about the Shetland Islands. The islands are a part of Scotland, ceded to the country in the 15th century from Norway as part of a down payment on a dowry from the King of Norway when his daughter married King James III of Scotland. However, the Norwegians never came up with the money to actually pay for the dowry, so Scotland kept the islands. Talk about a bad trade. Because of this interesting history, the islands share their Scottish heritage with a lot of Scandinavian influence, especially around their dialect and place names.
About 23,000 people live on the Shetland islands. There are hundreds of islands in the archipelago, but only about a dozen are inhabited by Shetlanders. Most of the people live on the Mainland island, as well as the islands of Yell and Unst. I would say sheep outnumber people by about 4:1. Seriously there are so many sheep on those islands. Do not go there if you have ovinophobia (fear of sheep).
So why did we decide to visit the islands? It all started when we watched a show on Netflix called Shetland. The show is based on the thriller novels by Anne Cleves, and features a Shetland-born detective named Jimmy Perez who investigates murders on the islands. I love a good British police investigation story, so we were hooked. And then the scenery of Shetland hooked me, as a lot of the outdoor shots were clearly filmed on the islands. My love of all things UK and the desire to travel yet again meant that I started investigating how difficult it is to get to the islands.
And really, it's not that difficult. There are multiple flights from Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and several other locations into Sumburgh Airport, which is Shetland's international airport (they get flights from Norway too.) Or, there is a twelve-hour ferry that runs overnight from Inverness. We really wanted to take the ferry but since time is not on our side (not until retirement), flying would be a better option for us.
So we went to Shetland!