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