Bank holidays & school holidays are important diary dates that should not be missed! So, we decided to spend the spring holiday, the spring style and UNST was our destination of choice! As they say, good things come in small packages. Unst is small but its magnificence amazes one and all.
In short, this getaway was about most northerly beaches and their strolls, most northerly hide & seek in the most northerly Muness castle, most northerly delicious cooking & even more delicious food and the most northerly bus shelter, yes you heard it right! And that’s why I say ‘Most Northerly Everywhere!’
Just to set the scene right, let me tell you what the flavour of the company was on this getaway.
South Indian ‘Sambhar’ tampered with some North Indian ‘tadka’, served with ‘Scotch’ whiskey- was the zest of the caravan.
On Friday morning, we were all meeting at the ferry terminal. Back just the night before from another journey, I knew I would be the disorganised one (another excuse, S says)! I was still packing my big few boxes of food with half closed eyes in the morning and after a quick ‘pack- shower – run’ marathon, we set off. I was more than glad to be the first car to arrive! Yes I was not late and I don’t run on Indian Standard Time (for once!)
Even although situated on the most northern point of the British Isles, Unst is surprisingly quite easy to visit. The two ferries connecting Shetland mainland to Yell and Yell to Unst is a treat. You would see travellers on a look out for otters & porpoises because they are easy to spot and the hot chocolate in the vending machine is highly recommended too.
After reaching the ‘Treasure Island’, we had lots to hunt for and explore. I’ve read that Robert Louis Stevenson visited Unst in 1869 to see the Muckle Flugga lighthouse, built by his father a few years earlier, and was so impressed that some say that he used it as the basis for his ‘Treasure Island’ map. Impressive, it still remains and that’s why Unst is truly the ‘island above all others’!
Fringed by a roughly indented coastline of enormous sea cliffs and rocky headlands separated by wicks and sounds, with its stretches of beautiful, pristine sand, some here and some there. The open spaces are almost entirely about treeless landscape of rolling hills covered in course grass that changes color every season and separated by valleys speckled with lochs and dispersed crofts. Yes, we are still in Unst! Didn’t I say, magnificent!
Let’s talk about some of the highlights of this charming holiday
Sandwick Beach, Easting- The extended curving sandy beach at Sandwick, Unst was one of my favourites. The ruins of a Viking longhouse is well conserved on the edge of the beach. We collected some shiny, washed-ashore pebbles and played hospital tag on the beach! One person is “Mr Yuck” and the others run. When you get tagged you may cover your “wound” with one of your hands. And then aim at tagging others! At one point, some of us were running covering the bums, the arms and the faces! It was my fun learning for the day 🙂
Foord’s Chocolate Workshop and Tearoom – We had a quick peak at the chocolate experience. No place should be without chocolate, even the remotest part of this lovely British Isles, and that’s why Foord’s Chocolate Workshop offers the best in hand made Belgian Chocolate. But it wasn’t just that, you can see how the chocolates are made and sample some finest varieties. And then stopover the gift shop for a wee present for your loved-ones, better than just another souvenir tea-towel!
If Hide & Seek is your favourite game of all times, Muness Castle will be your favourite Castle of all times.
Again most northerly, the castle was built in 1598 by Laurence Bruce. It is described that French raiders stormed and burned the castle in 1627 and although it was subsequently repaired, the castle was uninhabited by the late 1600s. Since then, Muness Castle was rented out in 1713 to the Dutch East India Company and it was used as a storage facility for salvaged cargo from a nearby wreck. The castle is understood to have been uninhabited from 1750 to the present day. While it is now a ruin, the detailed stonework is still remarkable, and the round towers and turrets are everything you would hope to see in a classic Scottish castle.
Can a Bus Shelter be a Must See? Answer is, yes it can be, if it is Bobby’s! Holiday in Unst is incomplete without stating Unst’s most surprising tourist attractions- Bobby’s Bus Shelter. Every year, the bus stop has a different theme, last year it was South African and this years is to the Puffins! I have not been to a more comfortable and cute bus stop.It was saved from closure at the petition of local boy Bobby. Since then it has been decorated in a variety of styles, has chairs, planters, soft toys , telephone and even a geocache!
(Click to read what’s a Geocache?)
There is so much to discover in Unst, I can go on and on! In Unst, you can’t be bored! The fascinating geology, rich fauna & flora, welcoming people, serene walks, the sense of spaces, but to add to all that Unst has the element. The element to capture, captivate and to have you come back! I did !
In addition to all this hopping, tagging and exploring, was family table games, scrumptious food, Eurovision and more food. So, bacon or ham, die of itching or die of sneezing- Yes that’s a family game, that’s either and or!
We drew and sketched some animals and a 3 year old was judging the winner! So some cows looked like pigs and some penguins looked like puffins!
And our last stop was Euro Vision. Some call it ghastly songs with good value for entertainment! Need I say more?!
Now , I am back in my home relaxing and sorting my pictures and ready to publish this .. I feel like I am the “writer over the weekend” and this is my WOW!
PS – My peerie souvenir – Spencies Tunes by Steven Spence, Unst’s very own and most renowned fiddle composers and some shells and pebbles!