Who are you?
Andy Carter, lifelong camper and now retired. I live with my wife, Christine, in Lerwick, the capital of the Shetland Islands (population 23,000), 180 miles from Aberdeen in Scotland and about the same distance west of Bergen, Norway.
Why are you a local authority on Shetland?
Christine and I have spent most of our lives here. Until 2007 there was a ferry to Norway and we used to visit every summer on camping trips with the kids. Now, we go overnight with Northlink to Aberdeen, from where we can travel further afield.
What do you love about it?
The open, friendly community, where people have time to share with each other and visitors alike. We value the closeness to nature and magnificent seascapes; you can get to a rural setting without the loss of amenities common to many remote places.
We are accustomed to seeing seals on the shore close to our house, gannets diving in the bay, the occasional whale breaching or otters on the rocks – all this within walking distance of a leisure centre, cinema and shops!
What’s your favourite place to visit?
Eshaness, 30 miles north or Lerwick, has fantastic sea cliffs and walks where you can explore storm beaches, subterranean passages, amazing rock formations in the UNESCO listed geopark, a lighthouse and several archaeological features. The museum, campsite and café are open during the summer months.
Visitors will love the scenic tombolo, a spit of land connecting the main island to St Ninian’s Isle, where a trove of silver artefacts was discovered in the 1950s. The treasure was reputed to have been hidden from Viking raiders by early Christian monks.
No visit to Shetland would be complete without a trip to Yell and Unst – both have fully equipped campsites with hardstandings and good facilities, and can be accessed by ferry, operated regularly by the Shetland Islands Council.
Other attractions include fine seascapes, historic sites and isolated beaches. Go wild swimming, walk your dog or have a barbecue with nobody else around.
Which campsite would you recommend?
There are eight sites registered with the local tourist organisation, and a further two outside Scalloway and on Fetlar are opening shortly. There are no camping grounds in Lerwick – the nearest is the Cunningsburgh Tourist Park.
What food and drink is the area known for?
Shetland is synonymous with quality seafood – Lerwick has the second highest fish landings in the UK and the islands produce a high volume of farmed salmon.
Together with shellfish – mussels, scallops, crab and lobster – it is easy to lay your hands on the best the sea can provide from the two fishmongers in the town. Shetland also produces organic beef and mutton.
Tell us somewhere great to eat!
For seafood, Frankies, in Brae, has awards for quality and sustainability. And there’s excellent fish and chips in the Fort Café, Lerwick. Try the Dowry and C’est la Vie, both on Commercial Street, the Peerie Shop Café, on the Esplanande, and Fjara, at Breiwick Bay.
Where can I get spare kit?
DH Marine on the outskirts of Lerwick can replenish chemical toilet products and some accessories. LHD, in the town, has camping and outdoor gear. Rearo are agents for Calor and Campingaz.
Where can I find the cheapest petrol/diesel?
There are four filling stations in Lerwick and access to fuel at many of ht rural and island roadside shops. Regrettably, fuel in Shetland is expensive.
When should you avoid the area?
It is usually easy to find a place to park, although there are some restrictions in the town centre. Main roads outside Lerwick are well maintained, but anticipate single-track roads with passing places in remoter parts.
Share a secret highlight only locals know!
There are some excellent opportunities to wild camp, especially the site above St Ninian’s Isle.
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