The tourist map of Unst doesn’t have much marked on it but when your first experience is an epic hike to see a rambunctious gannet colony, you know the island is special. As usual, we have no itinerary and just drive and follow the brown tourist signs for where to go and what to do. After passing the Viking longhouse and boat a few times we finally stopped to have a nosey.
The boat is a fullscale replica of a 9th century boat discovered in a mound in Norway. It would have been powered by 32 oarsmen and could carry 70 men. It’s huge and beautiful.
The longhouse is similar to the one I saw in L’Anse Aux Meadows in Newfoundland from approximately the same era. A young man we spoke with later told us you come across the ruins of Viking longhouses everywhere you go in Shetland. This one, like the boat, is a replica. The local craftsmen had to rediscover the Viking building methods and skills during the construction. Once again I’m struck by how quickly and completely cultural knowledge is lost.
I also wonder at what point in history people decided they wanted a little personal space. So many ancient dwellings were communal with no privacy. I guess you had to walk out into the bog for a little Me Time.
We took a chance on a parkup we read about that had mixed reviews and it became my favorite so far. The approach was a little challenging (I forgot to take photos) but oh my! Check out this view!
We spent a glorious afternoon and evening there during which I also watched a little tennis.
We were perched on a grassy strip on the edge of the sand above the beach. Overnight high winds and rain rolled in and we backed off the verge and onto the gravel drive which I thought was more stable. We stayed two nights until a group of fishing buddies from Yorkshire moved in and the wind kicked up even stronger. The Yorkshiremen were friendly but the wind chased us away.
On the way to our next parkup we stopped at this unlikely tourist attraction, Bobbie’s Bus Shelter. Yes, it’s really a bus shelter and it’s become an evolving community art installation.
When we visited it was tricked out for the Queen’s Jubilee and I took the opportunity to sit on the throne, complete with crown and purse.
Of course there’s a cake box nearby. This one gets points for creativity and so far it’s tops for variety. We got the ginger cake.
On the road again Jack hit the brakes for an unexpected standing stone. I love that these things are everywhere but historians can only speculate as to the purpose of each one.