23 September 2009--Sunny morning, with intermittent squalls of varying intensity. Over the hill and down the close we go,
into town and over to Fort Charlotte
[US]. Fortification here dates to the wars with the Dutch in the latter half of the 17th century, but what's here mostly dates from
the late 18th, when the UK was at war with several countries (and the American colonies to boot). Apparently it never fired a shot in
anger. One might think that remote Shetland was perhaps not much of a target for Britain's various enemies, but it's worth noting that
there was no garrison here during the Third Dutch War, with the inevitable consequence being a successful Dutch attack. Maybe there's
something to this deterrent idea after all.
The fort would have been prominent on the cliffs above the water back in the day, but the town has closed in around it, and even sprawled onto fill below. As a result, it's nearly hidden, not unlike, I find myself thinking, some of the brochs we've seen.
From there we stroll down along the southern end of Commercial Street, where the houses still front on the water. We pass by Anderson High School, formerly Anderson Institute. This is apparently the secondary school for all of Shetland, with students from the more remote areas boarding during the week. The campus takes up most of the high ground of the Knab, which we circle around clockwise, back to the B&B.
We drive west to Scalloway, then south over a couple of short bridges to the islands of Trondra and West Burra. At the end of the road is a lovely beach called Banna Minn. Working back, we walk another beach, the Sand of Meal (I'll say it before Bobby does: it's called Meal because you can eat the sand which is there), and stroll through the village of Hamnavoe [US]. Again, a very healthy and prosperous-looking little town. No pub, though. How do people live like that?
The sky clouds over as we rest back at the B&B and get packed up for our departure tomorrow. Dinner at Kveldsro House, our first repeat--the Italian place on Commercial Street that we'd picked out was just closing as we arrived. It's been a good week in Shetland, and we're feeling satisfied about what we've done here. There's a thing or two we didn't get around to, but isn't there always? Over the past couple of days, I've been feeling that a week here is more than enough, and it'll be a good long while before I feel the urge to come back. Now, on the eve of departure, I find myself plotting my return already. Shetland is a very peculiar place, very spare in many aspects, but very seductive in its own way.