I’m digging into the archive for this first real post but it has only been rather recently that I managed to process these shots.

Backtracking for a bit. It was December ’08 and HR at work had decided it was cracking down staff accumulating excess holidays. All my flat mates already had other plans or none of their own holidays remaining so after much deliberation I decided on somewhere slightly different, the Shetland Islands. My penchant for rugged, faraway places winning me over but more importantly, the timing of my visit would include Up Helly Aa, a celebration of the Shetland Islander’s heritage. What’s not to like about festival full of vikings and fire? More on that later.

Sunset On Union Street | Aberdeen, Scotland – UK

Getting to the islands from London was half the fun. A quick ride to Euston Road station only to realise I my train left from Kings Cross, I managed jump on the tube and scramble to my train just as it was about to pull out. No seconds to spare that time. The 6 hour journey to Aberdeen via Dundee was quite enjoyable; plenty of nice scenery along the way. After quick change of trains in Dundee I spent the afternoon drinking coffee and taking in the Aberdeen vibe before boarding the overnight ferry to Lerwick.  I was too cheap to pay for a bed for the night but found myself a nice, long lounge for what turned out to be a very rough journey. I later learned this was the first ferry to sail in 3 or 4 days due to bad weather.

Abandoned Shack | Sumburgh Head, Shetland Islands, Scotland – UK

Fulmar On A Breeze | Sumburgh Head, Mainland, Shetland Islands, Scotland – UK


Given the size and sparseness of the islands public transport wasn’t going to cut it so I hired a car; much easier to get around but also somewhere to retreat to from the amazing winds. Despite the islands relatively mild winter – balmy compared to London – the wind cuts right through you; double thermals, shirt, jumper and a goretex jacket was no match some points. The timing of my visit to the island meant I was enjoying some of the shortest days I’d ever experienced. Sun up at 9am and dark by 4pm meant I had to be productive with my daylight hours but it did leave plenty of time for a few beers at the pub. The main island simply called Mainland, held plenty of interesting sights, Sumburgh Head and the Sumburgh Head Lighthouse, Eshaness, countless hidden coves and beaches usually occupied by some lazy seals or otters  and a few Shetland ponies.

Shetland Pony | Northmavine, Mainland, Shetland Islands, Scotland – UK

Standing on the cliffs at Eshaness I felt like I was looking at from the edge of the world. There is an endless battle here between age old volcanic rock and a tireless North Atlantic. Nothing west for a couple thousand kilometers – either southern Greenland or Canada. The windiest place I have ever visited.

North Atlantic Sunset | Eshaness, Northmavine , Mainland, Shetland Islands, Scotland – UK

Two things so far had stuck me about the Shetlands Islands, their sparseness with a population of only 22,000 you could have whole stretches of coastline to yourself to enjoy and also hospitality of the people I did meet, whether in the pub or passing them on the road.

More Shetland Islands to come.



[…] Shetland Islands, Part I – The Mainland | Aaron K HallApr 10, 2011 … Aaron K Hall. Photography. Home · Blog … Row Boat | Near Lock Of Spiggle, Mainland, Shetland Islands, Scotland – UK · Island Sunset | Sound … […]

JoAnne Soper-Cook

Lovely photos of a beautiful part of the world. You mentioned it was the windiest place in the world – close to it, I’m sure, but we’re the third windiest place in the world. 🙂


Scotland is a gorgeous country. I’ve been twice (my mother’s family are from Fife) but have never got to the Shetlands. It’s definitely on my bucket list.

Leave a Reply