RideEatCamp

Shetlands

Europe

We arrived on the main island of the Shetlands early in the morning with no concrete plans what to do. Carrie read that the kayaking was good here, but the only guy who led kayaking trips wouldn’t commit to a date because of the inclement weather.

The famous red phone booths in the UK are still littered across the country, remnants of the pre-digital age.
The famous red phone booths in the UK are still littered across the country, remnants of the pre-digital age.

A woman takes a gander at the impressive broch in Lerwick.
A woman takes a gander at the impressive broch in Lerwick.

With kayaking possibly a no go, we headed to the tourist information center for some advice. The friendly employees suggested we ride down to the southern point of the island to see the bird life. Down there we could also stay in one of the island’s unique accommodations called a böd. Böds are simple homes or fishing huts with some bunk beds and sometimes kitchen and bathroom facilities. At £20 for the two of us, this was as cheap as we could go for indoor accommodation in Scotland. With the weather forecast looking unfriendly, we were keen to stay indoors, so we booked some beds at the böd nearest the southern tip of the island and set out.

After we stashed our stuff in the stone house böd, we hurried to the southern tip of the island to check out the bird colonies. We were hurrying because it was forecasted to rain in the evening. Although we missed the rain we still got a face full of wind. Out at the point we saw skuas, guillemots, terns, and everybody’s favorite: the puffin. The puffin is a curious little guy with a colorful beak and an ability to dive to one hundred feet for its food. But what’s most interesting about the puffin is watching it fly. The poor thing looks like it can barely stay aloft, flapping like mad as it makes exploratory trips from its nest in the cliffs.

Back at the böd we met two British chaps our age who were in the Shetlands on holiday to do some fishing. Unlike most sane people however these guys were deep sea fishing from a kayak and a little dingy. They regaled us with stories of catching huge cod and a monster flat fish I can’t remember the name of. We wouldn’t have believed them if they didn’t show us photos on their smartphones. All the locals thought they were crazy to go out in such tiny boats, but they had the last laugh and apparently a huge cod dinner.