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Central Mainland

The guide on Central Mainland in Shetlands has information on sleeping and eating, transport and more that you needed for a visit.

===Introduction to Scalloway=== Phone code: +44 (0)1595

The Central Mainland is Shetland's slim waist, and only a few miles of land separates the east and west coast. Six miles from Lerwick on the west coast is Scalloway, once the capital of Shetland and now a fishing port and fish-processing centre. In 1942, during The Second World War, Scalloway became the headquarters of the Shetland Bus operations. This was the name given to the Norwegian fishing boats which sailed to Shetland during the night from German-occupied Norway, bringing refugees to safety and returning with ammunition and resistance fighters. An interesting exhibition on the 'Shetland Bus' can be seen at Scalloway Museum on Main Street. Info - May to Sep Tue-Thu 1400-1630, Sat 1000-1230 and 1400-1630. Donation requested.

The harbour is dominated by the ruins of Scalloway Castle, built in 1600 by the notorious Earl Patrick Stewart using local slave labour. After his execution the castle fell into disrepair, though the four-storey main block and one wing remain. Inside, an interpretative display explains its history. Next to the castle is the Shetland Woollen Company, Tel. 880243, where you can buy the famous Shetland wool and Fair Isle sweaters. South of Scalloway lie the islands of Trondra and Burra, now connected to the Mainland by bridges. At Burland on Trondra is the Spirit of Shetland, Tel. 880437, where you can buy Shetland knitwear, while on West Burra is the attractive little fishing village of Hamnavoe.

Eating Out

There are a few places to stay in Scalloway. In the upper part of the village is Hildasay Guest House, Tel. 880822, which has disabled facilities and arranges fishing trips. Eating options are limited to a bar meal at the Scalloway Hotel or Kiln Bar, or Da Haaf Restaurant, Tel. 880328, which is a canteen-style restaurant in the North Atlantic Fisheries college and specializes in (yes, you guessed it) seafood. Does a good fish supper, as well as having a more up-market menu for the evenings. Open Mon-Fri 0900-2000.

Travel Directions to Central Mainland

There are several daily buses (except Sun) between Lerwick and Scalloway, operated by Shalder Coaches, Tel. 880217.

===Tingwall=== Phone code: +44 (0)1595

North of Scalloway, the B9074 runs through the fertile Tingwall Valley, past a nine-hole golf course at Asta, and the Loch of Tingwall, which is good for brown trout fishing and also home to swans and otters. At the northern end of the loch is a promontory called Law Ting Holm, which was the site of the Althing, or parliament, during the period of Norse rule. Overlooking the loch is Tingwall Kirk, built in the late 18th century on the site of the earlier church of St Magnus which dated back to the early period of Norse Christianity. In the graveyard is the old burial vault with several interesting old grave slabs. Nearby is Tingwall Agricultural Museum, which houses a collection of old crofting implements. Info - Jun-Aug Mon-Sat 1000-1300 and 1400-1700. Adult £1.50.

North of the museum is Tingwall Airport, Tel. 840246, which has flights to most of the smaller islands. Getting to and from the airport is straightforward, as regular buses between Lerwick and Westside stop in Tingwall.

Local Sights & Activities for Central Mainland


The A971 continues northwest towards Weisdale. At the head of Weisdale Voe the B9075 branches north to Weisdale Mill, which now houses the Bonhoga Gallery, a purpose-built art gallery featuring varied exhibitions of local, national and international works. There's also a nice café serving snacks. Info - Wed-Sat 1030-1630, Sun 1200-1630, free. T830400.

Weisdale Mill was part of the Kergord estate, known until 1945 as Flemington, and was built from the stones of evacuated crofthouses. Over 300 crofters were forcibly evicted in the mid-19th century during the 'Clearances', when lairds expanded their more profitable sheep-farming activities. In 1940 the mill was requisitioned as the intelligence and administrative HQ for the 'Shetland Bus' operations (see Scalloway above). The Kergord estate today is the largest area of woodland in Shetland, and attracts a variety of migratory birds.

On the west shore of Weisdale Voe, south of the mill, are the ruins of the house where John Clunies Ross, adventurer, sailor and philosopher (1786-1854) was born. He settled in the Cocos Islands in the Indian Ocean in 1827 and proclaimed himself 'King'. After his death, the islands were ruled by his offspring until they became Australian territory in 1978.

Central Mainland Hotels & Accommodation

Near the airport, by the crossroads, is the Herrislea House Hotel, Tel. 840208, Herrislea House Hotel which offers good home cooking daily till 2100, and live music in its Starboard Tack bar. In nearby Wormadale is the modern Westings Hotel, Tel. 840242, Westings Hotel which is a good place to stop for lunch.