Journey to Shetland…

In September we went for a long anticipated holiday to Shetland… I’ve wanted to visit Shetland for a very long time and eagerly read blog posts about Fair Isle knitting, the Shetland Wool Week and also love reading 60 North Magazine. October is going to be Shetland month on the Knitting Squirrel as I share the wonderful experience of a week spent walking and exploring Shetland Mainland.

“60 North Magazine – A quarterly publication which covers stories about all aspects of life in Shetland – bringing you inspiration, interesting information and stunning photography.”

We’d decided to treat both of our long drives as road trips. Why you are probably wondering, did someone who gets sea sick decide on a holiday involving four ferry journeys when she could have flown? Well it really all comes down to wool… Shetland wool… and how much you can squash into luggage for a flight? So we needed to bring the car. It also gave us an excuse to spend a week in the Cairngorms National Park on our way back! You’re going to love November… red squirrels… lots of red squirrels!

So join us for our Journey to Shetland! We left home in Belfast at 2:00 am to drive to the Stena Line ferry terminal to take the Stena Superfast VII to Cairnryan. It sailed on time at 3:30 am and we arrived in the port at Cairnryan pretty much on time just before 6:00 am. I usually take sea sickness tablets but made do with wrist bands on this leg of the journey. I curled up under my quillo and tried to snooze on the ferry. Neil couldn’t sleep and spent most of the time reading his novel.

Ailsa Craig

We drove north along the South Ayrshire coast for about 30 minutes, pulling into a car park near Girvan with a view of Ailsa Craig.

Sunrise in South Ayrshire

We enjoyed watching an amazing sunrise on the west coast of Scotland while we were eating breakfast.

Sunrise in South Ayrshire

After breakfast we continued on our journey towards Glasgow. We’d borrowed my mums TomTom and it proved itself to be invaluable… We followed its directions and keeping south of Glasgow turned north east towards Perth and then Dundee… then we drove north towards Aberdeen… we only stopped a couple of times for a quick sandwich.

Aberdeen Beach

We arrived in Aberdeen on the East coast of Scotland a couple of hours earlier than we needed and noticed on the map that there was an amazing beach north of Aberdeen.

Pebbles on Aberdeen Beach

It was incredibly windy and downright cold as we walked along the beach looking at the huge waves. I started to feel a little more trepidation about the ferry trip.

Aberdeen Beach

I love walking on the beach… the salty sea air, the breeze, the weathered wood and smooth pebbles.

Aberdeen Beach

We arrived at the Northlink Ferries terminal and waited in queue until it was boarding time for the MV Hjaltland that was sailing at 5:00 pm to Lerwick in Shetland, via the Orkneys which made the journey 2 hours longer…

Aberdeen Beach

I took my sea sickness tablets and made sure I had my wrist bands on. Once on board with our overnight bags safely settled in our cabin, Neil suggested we watch a movie.  They were showing Inside Out. We settled down in comfortable seats and the ship left the Aberdeen harbour. The rocking motion soon had me snoozing. I woke up for the end of the movie which Neil said had been enjoyable. I must get it out on DVD rental and watch it again.

It was only when I stood up that I realised just how rough this ferry journey was going to be. We came out of the small cinema and holding onto the wall, I made my way back towards the cabin, passing several milky white faces on the way. I am not good company on a long ferry trip. Once back in the cabin, I lay on the lower bunk and listened to the waves battering the sides of the ferry. Sometimes, you are glad to be on a solid old fashioned sturdy ferry, and one of those times is when you are out in a rough sea for nearly 17 hours…

Next morning we arrived in Lerwick… thankfully…

We had booked an apartment, Wildrig, in Scousburgh, overlooking Spiggie Loch. We arrived quite early, found the key, and got ourselves settled in. Imagine the pleasure of waking up to this view for a whole week!

Wildrig, Shetland

Then, cup of tea in hand, we looked at the amazing views from every window and couldn’t believe how lucky we were.

Wildrig, Shetland

Wildrig is built in a scandinavian style with open plan living, smooth wood, large windows with panorama views, and the ultimate luxury, a wet room with underfloor heating…

Wildrig, Shetland

We woke up with Shetland sheep and rabbits looking at us through the bedroom window.

Wildrig, Shetland

And went to bed after relaxing with my knitting while watching an episode of Shetland on the DVD and enjoying the heat wafting out from the log burner in the corner of the room.

About Nicolette


  1. Thank for your wonderful posts. I am planning to go to Shetland Wool Week next year and was investigating the ferries. I suffer so badly from seasickness though and had wondered if I should fly. After reading your post, I think the answer is yes 🙂

  2. Wildrig views are heavenly, along with your outdoor neighbors.
    How did you ever locate such a wonderful place to stay?
    I too have motion sickness and last time I was on a ferry the Dr. gave me a behind the ear patch for the entire week. It worked and I enjoyed every windswept, rocking moment.
    I am following your journey with Yahoo maps of Scotland and the Shetland Isles.
    Great Blog and travel info.

    • I must check out about the ear patch. That sounds really useful. When we were in open ocean, the ferry was very windswept and wild. I’m rather impressed that in the third Shetland series they’ve filmed some of it on the ferry. I’ve a few more posts to write about our trip to Shetland. It was amazing.

      We were incredibly lucky to find Wildrig. We found it while doing some searches on Google. Isn’t the computer brilliant. So much information at our fingertips.

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