As with all places at this latitude at this time of year, every day seems to be shorter than the last. It’s gotten to the point now that if I wake up to a fully lit bedroom, I feel a slight wave of disappointment, knowing that I’ve already wasted some precious daylight hours for that day asleep in bed. With these limited hours to play with (roughly 6 hours of light each day) I had to plan my little road trip properly. The weather is also typically uncooperative - I don’t know if any day has gone by these past two months without either sheets of rain or howling winds hanging about for part or all of the day. Certainly I haven’t experienced a single day of clear cloudless sky; grey seems to be the colour of choice around these parts.
I kept an eye on the wind forecast most of all. Rain I could at least deal with if it was coming down vertically instead of whipping me right in the face. Seeing a patch of calm over the weekend past I booked in a car on Sunday and walked down to the airport to pick it up. On top of being the lighthouse custodian, Tony also mans the tourist info desk at the airport, so he gave me some suggestions on where to go and what to do. Compared to Iceland and the Faroes, tourism in Shetland really does come to a grinding halt around the end of September. That means I get this wonderful space all to myself, but also that my options for sightseeing would be limited to the great outdoors. Almost all visitor centres, museums, cafes and some accommodation close or operate on heavily scaled back hours.
After getting the car in the afternoon on Sunday, I took it to nearby St Ninian’s Isle. The island isn’t technically an island, as it’s connected by a picturesque 500m long tombolo, or ayre - otherwise known as a sand bar. I took a stroll over to the island and climbed over some of the winding sea cliffs as the sun was starting to set (around 2ish).
From there I drove to Bonhoga Gallery in Weisdale. To my knowledge there isn’t a dedicated non-commercial gallery space in Shetland so this looked like the next best thing, although Weisdale is also a 20 minute drive beyond Lerwick. There was a neat semi-retrospective by local Shetlander Maxie Bain with some watercolours he had done of the local landscape, as well as other shows dotted around the space. It was already dark by the time I walked out of there at 4, and being so far down south the drive back to the lighthouse took about an hour.