Orkney & Shetland 2019 - Day 20

Shetland: South to Sumburgh Head


The southern point of Shetland is the high headland of Sumburgh Head. It is a reknowned bird nesting sanctuary. On our way south we stopped to visit the restored water mill at Queandale and the Croft House Museum.

Quendale Water Mill

Grain crops were a staple part of the work of crofters. They grew barley and oats and also a type of barley known as "bere". The grain needed to be ground to flour, this was often done by hand but a better quality flour was obtained by using a large mill. There were once many water-powered mills cross Shetland but today the mill at Qieandale is the only one remaining. Iy has been fully restored to working condition.

An odd implement on display - a spade to cut peat.
The mill with a spare stone
A clever elevator to raise the grain up to the mill
Belts and pulleys to drive all the equipment
to oven to dry the grain
The water wheel that drives the mill.
The Pelton Wheel from a local farm.

Jarlshof Pre-historic settlement

Near the southern end of the island, and in the grounds of the Sumburgh Hotel lies the archaeological site of jarlshof. Although known by its Viking name, it actually has remains dating from 2500BC right up to the 17th Century AD. The day we visited the Visitor Centre was closed (no explanation why) so we bought the guide book from the hotel (where you pay the entrance fee) and walked around. Despite the bright sunshine the wind was biting cold on the exposed site.

Entry to Jarlshof
Sumburgh Hotel
Looking south to Sumburgh Head Lighthouse
Local Shetland ponies at the hotel
The earliest part of the settlement
Quorn stone used to grind grain by hand. There were many of them at Jarlshof
Remains of another broch.
A wheel house - a variation on the broch
Looking down on a wheelhouse showing the internal divisions radiating from the centre.
Sponsored by Unst Brewery using bere to make beer. I tried this on Unst - a good ale.
View out to sea

Croft House Museum

Close to the water mill at Dunrossness is a croft house. It was occupied until 1963 and has been preserved just as it was at that time. It contains several box beds and a range of spinning and knitting equipment. It was heated with a peat fire that was burning slowly when we visited.

Shetland ponies in the paddock.
The croft house from the road.
Stones to hold the thatch on in a gale.
A box bed with shutters to keep the light (and cold?) out.
The roof has grass turf under the thatch.
The coo barn is part of the hoos....
How to keep the croft warm.

Sumburgh Head Bird Sanctuary

Sumburgh Head lies at the southern end of Shetland, looking out over the meeting of the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Its cliffs are home to thousands of birds mostly guillimots, kittiwakes and puffins. On the day of our visit nearly all the puffins were out at sea fishing.

To get to Sumburgh Head you pass the airport...
There were plenty of helicopter movements to the North Sea oil rigs.
The road runs around the end of the runway
where the barrier arms are manually operated.
And then crosses the actual runway.
Entrance to Sumburgh Head.
Plenty of guillimots nsting on the cliffs.
Also a pair of cormorants.
Plenty of sea pinks ready to flower.
And one puffin.
Came out of its burrow, looked around
And went back in again.
Looking north to Jarlshof and the Sumburgh Hotel.

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Last updated: 20/02/2019