This is a call for those people who are into Viking history, festivals, and the amazing land of Scotland and its islands like me! Scotland is full of magical landscapes, huge and impressive cliffs and stunning islands such as the famous Island of Skye, but in this occasion, I am going to write about the incredible Shetland Islands and the reasons why they are so unique.
Cover Picture Credits to Marcin_Kadziolka
The Shetland Islands are a Scottish archipelago and the northernmost point in the United Kingdom. It is composed of 100 islands, and 15 of them are inhabited. The Shetland islands are located 160 km north of the Scottish mainland, and they are as far north as Anchorage in Alaska, or St Petersburg in Russia – so it is easy to imagine how cold it gets there, especially in winter, with heavy winds. The Shetlanders also feel strongly connected to Scandinavia, and that shows in the flag of Shetland (a white Nordic cross on a blue background).
These islands were conquered by the Vikings 1200 ago and so still have a strong connection with the wilder Scandinavian people across the sea. With the festivals and celebrations, you can still feel and notice the Viking heritage, which is very well expressed in the famous 'Festival of Fire' called Up Helly Aa, celebrated in the Shetland Islands. In an upcoming article I'll be showing you one of the craziest Viking festivals I've ever seen.
These islands are also a native habitat for plenty of wild animals and birds, and they are well known thanks to the cute Shetland pony. This animal can be seen throughout these islands: on the beaches, grazing by the roadside or on the heather-covered hills, although they are owned by the local crofters. There are 1500 Shetland ponies living on the islands at the moment, and they can be seen in any colour. The Shetland pony is definitely one of the most popular tourist attractions since they are very nice and friendly to people and let you take pictures with them.
The Shetland Islands is also the place where the North Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean, and there are lots of cool experiences and activities these islands offer to people – ranging from exploring different beautiful beaches, hiking, walking, and climbing to see the 'Northern Lights'. One of the most famous landscapes or beaches is St Ninian’s Ayre - this beach is a sand tombolo, which links the mainland to St Ninian’s Isle. The sea here laps in at both sides of the beach, creating the largest tombolo (mound of land barely connected) in the UK. One of the pictures that frequently pops up when you search the Shetland Islands shows this beautiful beach on St Ninian's Isle and the tombolo.
You can also check out this article about the mysterious magnetic northern lights in Norway
I think the Shetland Islands are a very unique, interesting place that everyone should have on their bucket list and tick off at some point, since it is a place full of diversity, beauty, culture, and history! Stay tuned to find out about more exciting locations and festivals on these amazing islands, and don’t miss the cool Viking side of the Shetland Islands!
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