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Published: 14 July 2018

By Andy Ross

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Going off the beaten track

Sometimes going off the beaten track is a Very Good Thing...

It is the height of the summer and the flowers are looking spectacular. We have had little rain the islands and it seems like the colours of the landscape are particularly vivid because of the drought. This week, on tour with a group of textile enthusiasts from Hungary, Greece, Scotland and The Netherlands, we were meant to be heading into the island of Unst. However, I had forgotten that it was Unst Fest and had not anticipated that the ferries would be so full. What to do? 

The island of Fetlar is on the same route as Unst, through Yell (stopping for the studio and Shetland Gallery, of course) and then the ferry. On a chance I decided to go to Fetlar with the group. What a great change to the itinerary. 

Fetlar boasts historic claims to fame in medical circles as the home to Sir William Watson Cheyne, he of antiseptic surgery fame, but also as one of the last places in Shetland to practice traditional crofting skills and tell stories such as Jan Tait and the Bear. So what better place to sit on the banks and relate that particular tale. It is also a great place to see beautiful wildflowers such as ragged robin and buttercups, stone walls and croft ruins, lovely flocks of the coloured Shetland sheep, ponies, beaches, the small and packed museum which tells so much of the island's history...

We even had a chance to visit a felt maker (thanks Jo!) and spend time chatting about all things textile-y. Yes, Fetlar is definitely worth a visit. What a lucky and fantastic experience to have.