Have you ever been somewhere that is so awe inspiring you wonder if you’re imagining it?
That is what walking on St. Ninian’s Isle over the tombolo was like.
After enjoying a full Scottish breakfast at our hotel (sausage, bacon, poached egg, a kind of white baked bean, a fried hash brown wedge, mushrooms, canned fruit, and of course tea and coffee) we felt suitably energized to walk the rest of the day.
We drove down mostly one lane roads through small crofting villages to get there. When we arrived we met a girl walking her Great Dane on the tombolo who had just gotten braces and was feeling so self conscious she kept her hand over her mouth most of the time. She was incredibly friendly and agreed to pose for a photo with us.
The walk was quite easy even with some uphill stretches. We kept away from the cliffs and when we met another walker from Virginia who was standing a few feet from the edge D. asked her to move away because he was so nervous she would trip or a gust of wind would blow her over.
Turns out the biggest danger were bonxies or Arctic Skuas protecting their chicks by dive bombing us. We both screamed and ran across a field full of sheep and lambs while two giant birds the size of hawks flew a few inches from our heads.
Later I fell in a thistle patch and had large welts all over my legs for the rest of the night. But minor scrapes and scares in all.
We stopped at Quendale Water Mill because I was curious to see the local crafts on display and had a nice conversation with the local curator who had recently retired from working at the airport. He told us about a pod of orcas that had recently been seen in the area and recommended a few other sites.
At the end of the day, Jarlshof ruins were the perfect way to end our day of touring. Especially since we were the only ones and it was on the doorstep of our hotel.
Shetland has a fascinating history. In 1469 it was pawned as part of a dowry to Scotland’s King James III. Denmark fully intended to get it back but that never happened because the Scots realized what a gem they had.
The Vikings settled it in the 8th Century but its history dates back 4000 years. And there are still archaeological sites remaining that tell its stories. About 2500 years ago large stone circular buildings called brochs were built across Scotland, most likely for protection. To give some context, this is before the pyramids and Mesa Verde were built.
Jarlshof has a Broch as well and it’s hard to fathom how they built these tall circular structures made out of sandstone rocks that weren’t even on the island at the time.