Monday, 20 May 2013

The Leaving of Scalloway

It occurs to me that I have been rather remiss in not giving any form of description of Scalloway which has been my temporary home since I arrived in Shetland. Now that I am on the eve of departing and although I will be back later in the summer, I confess to a twinge of regret at the prospect of leaving.
  Such is the sense of community pride for “Swan” that everyone is keen to support her and there is no doubt that I derive considerable spin off and benefit from that good will.  The Hotel allows me internet access and only require me to buy a moderate amount of beer in recompense!  The Port Authority have given me use of their washing machine and been very helpful to the “baby skipper”. 
Scalloway is a working fishing port and boats off load catch here and prepare for sea.  In bad weather the pier side fills up as current EU fisheries regulations limit the number of days a fishing boat can be at sea; so rather than ride it out, boats run for port so as to save days for fishing.  This same regulation includes time spent steaming to and from the fishing grounds, thus landing at the nearest port rather than steaming to mainland Scotland preserves days for fishing.  So not only are there local boats but also a steady stream of visitors to the fish landing wharf where there is a processing plant, net repair business and lorries leave at all times of the day bound for Lerwick and on to Aberdeen.  

With a population of about 800, Scalloway is Shetland’s second city and in the foreground you can see the new housing development which underscores the strong links with Norway and Scandinavia in general. 
 I expect that back in the early 1800's others were commenting on the then new estate:

It was also the ancient capital

and today there is a friendly rivalry with its near neighbour the current capital, Lerwick.  It is also a microcosm of the wider “east and west coast” divide.  As well as the expected school and shops, it boasts a swimming pool, a Chinese take away and a youth club.

Scalloway was also home to the Shetland Bus operation of World War Two that played a critical role in supporting Norwegian resistance.  For many Norwegians fleeing Nazi occupation it represented the end of a perilous escape route.  For others it was the last place of safety before setting off to face the dangers of return through arctic waters and the covert courage of fighting with the resistance.  Today several houses routinely fly the Norwegian flag and the local museum was opened by the Norwegian Prime minister. 

As we slipped out we were also privileged to see an Orca mother and calf



As we headed south about to Lerwick I made the first of what I am sure will be several roundings of Sumburgh Head.  Of course to Shetland seafarers it’s a routine event, but for me a significant UK headland and a moment to savour.  The shipping forecast will never be the same again.


1 comment:

  1. Love the comments and photos Richard. It was interesting to see what the Sumburgh Head which I hear on the shipping forcast actually looks like.