Mavis Grind

Otter crossing
Otter crossing sign at Mavis Grind

We didn’t realise what Mavis Grind was when we first saw it. We also were slightly bemused by the signs pointing there, but didn’t inquire further. It sounds more like a person than a place. We did wonder about the “Otter Crossing” signs though, and stopped to look on the way through. It was only later we realised what it really was, and stopped again for a more thorough look.

Mavis Grind is the very narrow strip of land which connects Northmavine to the rest of Mainland. It’s notable for being used as a short cut from the Atlantic Ocean to the North Sea. A boat could be (relatively) easily transported from the beach on the Atlantic side to the other, or vice-versa. This was preferable to trying to navigate the seas around the North of the island.

It also seems that otters like to do this, hence the signs.

The beach on the atlantic side, with a view of the North sea side.
Imagine dragging a boat up here
The bay on the Atlantic side


Cliffs of Eshaness
The cliffs of Eshaness

After the very North, our next stop was Eshaness. One source suggested the Cliffs of Eshaness were enhanced by viewing in the rain, so as we were expecting rain, we headed there. We did get rain, it was mainly blowing sideways out to sea, so our backs got quite wet.

There’s also a lighthouse by the cliffs

More cliffs
More cliffs to the South
Interesting views on the road to Eshaness

More Northmavine

A trawler moored at Housetter

Some more things we found in Northmavine. We were surprised to see a plane parked in someone’s garden. The US flag flying also raised questions. It seems the plane crashed at Sumburgh, and a local thought it’d make a good garden ornament.

A somewhat inexplicable sight
Puffins at North Roe primary school
Not sure what this is (it looks like a maritime-themed garden of sorts), but the road claims to be Midgard
Sheep statue
A statue of a sheep at a road junction
Walled Cemetery
One of several walled cemeteries


A welcome to Northmavine

Today we took off early to explore the North of Mainland before the weather turned (which the forecast said it would in the afternoon). We found Northmavine, which is the North part of the island, which isn’t quite its own island (there’s a very narrow strip connecting the two bits). Northmavine is a lot like the rest of Shetland, rugged and windswept, but less populated.

Most of the roads are single track roads (with passing places), which make traveling a little challenging. We drove North, until we couldn’t get any further. It did start raining, on and off at noon.

The view from the Ollaberry store
One of many abandoned crofts on Mainland
Sheep, boats and a view just outside North Roe
The end of the road
Single track
Single track road (from a passing place)

Shetland Museum: Boats

Boat hall
The boat hall at the Shetland Museum

A lot of the museum is dedicated to boats, as well as a sobering display on how to keep them from wrecking, and what is done when they do.

Parts of wrecked ships
A display of life ship rescue equipment
The light from a lighthouse
A boat for the younger patrons
A typical Shetland sixareen boat.
Boat house
The boat house, making new boats

Shetland Museum

Lower hall
The lower hall of the Shetland Museum

This afternoon, we got to the Shetland Museum (and Archive). The museum’s ambitious mission is to document the entire history of the Shetland Islands. From the geography of the place right up to modern day life. This makes the museum somewhat diffuse or scattered, but it’s all interesting. There is something to interest everyone.

Reconstructed face
A reconstructed face from a 5,000 year old skull. She looks like a modern person.
Bronze bowls
Bronze bowls
Upper hall
The upper hall, with a variety of artifacts
A display of secret and hidden maps from WWII
Even the reception desk is an artifact, made from a wrecked ship’s keel

Clickimin Broch

Clickimin Broch
Clickimin Broch, with new pathway instead of a causeway

A Broch is an Iron Age fortified stone structure, Broch meaning “fort”. What they were actually for is debated. But there’s a very well preserved one just outside Lerwick (actually just across from the Tesco superstore). We dropped by as we were passing. It’s on what used to be an island on a small loch. What was a causeway is now a well maintained path.

The inner keep, blockhouse, and outer wall
The entry way into the broch


Town Hall
Lerwick Town Hall, looking very impressive. With the war memorial across the street in front.

Walking back from dinner, we passed the town hall. At first we wondered what the impressive edifice on top of the hill was. The rose window looked like it might be a church, but the turret is not very ecclesiastical.

Out front there’s a handy sign to tell you it’s the town hall, and a couple of amusing lampposts, with fishy pediments. Across town there were more impressive castellated buildings, but they turned out to be somewhat mundane, like an old school, or an abandoned church. Down on the waterfront, there is an old star fort (Fort Charlotte) which deserves further investigation.

Fishy lamp pediments
Looks impressive, is actually the old “Central School”, now a community centre.
Abandoned chuch (we think)
Star fort
Remains of an old star fort, complete with cannon

Amusing railings

St Ninian’s

St Ninians
St Ninian’s “tombolo” beach with two sides

We took a little detour on the way back to the B&B, past St Ninian’s. St Ninian’s is a “tombolo” (not to be confused with tombola), that’s an island connected to the mainland by a narrow strip (which is never submerged). In St Ninian’s case, by a sandy beach with two sides.

By this time the weather had brightened up, and the beach and the water looked very inviting. However, the temperature was in the low 50s (10-12°C), so might not have been so good in reality. Though Shetland is in the Gulf Stream current, so the water may be warmer than you’d expect. (We didn’t test that theory).

It had brightened up by now

It looked inviting
Though still quite rugged in places
From the hill
The view from the top of the hill
Another beach
Another beach

On the way to St Ninian’s, we passed other beaches which also looked inviting.