Two hundred and thirty miles west of Bergen in Norway, and more than one hundred miles off the north coast of Scotland, Lerwick is the capital of the Shetland Islands and its main port. The name Lerwick means muddy bay, a name which has its roots in Old Norse. Its Norwegian name is Leirvik, leir meaning clay and vik meaning inlet.
Lerwick's Waterfront by Murray Barnes on Flickr
Getting here is not too difficult, despite its location. Lerwick is served by two airports, Tingwall Airport and Sumburgh Airport, there’s also a daily overnight ferry service which runs between Lerwick and Aberdeen. This service frequently calls into Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands, making a tour of the islands a popular activity, especially if you have a Lerwick Car Hire.
The town of Lerwick is a bustling seaport, originally an unofficial and illegal marketplace built to maintain the 17th century Dutch Herring fleets. Today the old waterfront still hosts all kinds of boats, pleasure boats, visiting yachts, historic craft and working fishing boats and its narrow main street still follows the old shoreline, although the port has now been built in front of it. Perched on the hillside overlooking the harbour, the rest of the town has also kept its old world charm and narrow lanes, which provide welcome shelter from the south westerly winds during a gale.
This is a place where you can watch otters and seals play in the ocean, and where seabirds cling to the cliffs in huge, noisy colonies. If you’re into history and geology, it’s an area rich in rocks carved and shaped by ice, and the global Geopark provides endless inspiration for photographers and artists. If history is your thing then there are over 6,000 years of human history on the island, Clickimin Broch is a fine example. Close to a loch in the middle of Lerwick, this site is easily accessible, there are also many others.