Become a Viking
One of our favourite places to visit in Shetland is the most northerly UK inhabited island of Unst, steeped in history here you will find a replica Viking boat, Longhouse, Muness Castle, museums, seals, puffins and of course some of Shetlands amazing beaches.
Living in Shetland we will often go for a day trip and usually have the place to ourselves. I know most people can not just pop over to Unst, but don’t worry in Unst you will find several Airbnb’s, a hostel and a campsite. In the past we have stayed in Unst for the weekend with Catriona and her lovely family at their Airbnb cottage (you can find it here) which is conveniently located in Baltasound and a place which I would highly recommend.
Take a look at some of the wonderful places we like to visit and if this is somewhere you would like to go, you can click on the name or photos for directions via OS maps.
Sometimes learning is best done through play, experiences and situated at Haroldswick (11 miles from Belmont ferry) there is a perfect place to discover your inner Viking. Here you will find The Skidbladner (replica Gokstad ship) and also a reconstructed Viking Longhouse. The children love to board the vessel, a full size replica of the Gokstad ship which was found in a Viking burial mound in Norway in 1880 and pretend to be on the high seas. Then you can have a short stroll over to the longhouse and get to feel what it was like to have lived like a Viking. During the summer months you will often see live history demonstrations held here, which makes it all come alive!
If this is something your inner Viking would enjoy, you can learn more or plan your trip by heading over to Shetland Amenity Trust website here. It is always worthwhile keeping an eye out on their website as they often advertise events happening here such as the Unst Viking festival during the summer of 2017. Where we saw the Walhalla Vikings from Poland and the Northern Irish Ardglass Viking’s (from the ‘Vikings’ TV series) set up a family friendly encampment around the Longhouse. Here they shared stories, food, and taught us new crafts and games.
Accessibility- there is parking right next to the site, the path is a mixture of loose gravel, grass and we managed to navigate a wheelchair set up for this kind of terrain around the longhouse.
Once you are ready to move on from being a Viking, follow the road past the longhouse and you will find yourself at the Unst Heritage Centre and the Unst Boat Haven which we would also recommend visiting if you have the time.
Situated 5 miles from the ferry terminal, Muness Castle is one of the first places we ever visited in Unst. You can roam the grounds of this most northerly tower house in the UK which was built in 1598 for Laurence Bruce of Cultimalindie. Although originally there were three floors, only two floors remain which you are free to explore. We would highly recommend taking a torch so you can see where you are going on the lower floor. If you forget there is a box just inside the doorway with torches available, but these may have already been taken.
‘YE TO KNAW THIS BULDING QUHA BEGAN/LAURENCE THE BRUCE HE WAS THAT WORTHY MAN/QUHA ERNESTLY HIS AIRIS AND OFSPRING PRAYIS/TO HELP AND NOT TO HURT THIS WARK ALUAYIS/THE YEIR OF GOD. 1598.’ (Inscription above the doorway)
You can learn more about this tower house here.
Accessibility- again there is parking right next to Muness Castle (be careful not to block the gate) You can walk right the way around and access the front of the building. The terrain is grass, which was easily navigated with an all terrain wheelchair set up. Inside there are uneven stairs to access different areas and the corridors are narrow and dark.