It also had the White Lady, a figurehead from a sunken boat: she stands on the shore, looking toward the site of the wreck. She is crudely carved, painted white, and frankly spooky.
I didn't see any otters; more irritating, I bumped into a couple who told me they had seen otters on Unst the previous evening. I did see lots of seals in Yell, and had a good walk along the coast before heading to the next ferry, to Mainland.
It was cloudy on Mainland. Rather than head straight to Lerwick, where I was staying, I decided to go north. I drove right to the north, past hamlets and Nordic-looking towns, oil depots and large fjord-like voes.
I stopped and went for a walk. I walked from the east coast of Mainland to the west; from the North Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. It took me a minute or so: despite being a fair distance from the north of the island, at Mavis Grind the inlet - voe - to the east and that to the west almost meet, leaving a narrow isthmus barely wider than the road. The Vikings used to carry their long boats from one side to the other, to save the long sail north and then south around to top of Mainland. (The Scottish place name Tarbert - or Tarbet - indicates the same, which is why it is such a common place name around the coast.)
The road sign just south Mavis Grind warns of otters crossing the road. Not when I was there, there weren't.
I drove north, exploring the single track roads, going right to the north of the island, before heading back to Lerwick.
I had booked my b&b sometime before I left for Shetland, and I had been surprised how hard it had been. Most places were booked up - I think I tried six before finding a bed. Lerwick isn't a big place.
In some respects, I like Lerwick, but in others - well it is lacking somewhat. Despite all the b&bs being busy, the town felt pretty dead. I walked about, answering what to do with my evening - where to eat, where to drink. The streets were empty - this on a Saturday night. I decided on the fish and chip shop, eating in. Nowhere else grabbed me. The fish and chips were good, but I had hoped for more. None of the pubs I passed seemed very attractive either - not enough to entice me in. A couple of the bars are renowned for their music sessions, but there want a sound coming from any of them. Most of the bars were on the first floor, over shops at street level. Pushing past a gaggle of smokers deterred me.
The following evening was worse. I decided to eat at the Grand Hotel, a large place near the seafront. I went up the stairs and was directed to the bar, for bar food. The bar was an internal room, with no windows. And no atmosphere. There were two other tables, plus me: a couple at one, and three or four blokes at the other, perhaps guys off the rigs. No one was talking. The food was actually very good - I had some delicious scallops - but the place itself was awful.
I decided to go for a drink somewhere else, and settled on the Queens Hotel, on the water. The pub bit of the hotel was Obb the ground floor. I walked in. It was empty. I was the only pointer there. I walked to the bar; it had exactly the same beers as the Grand, and then I noticed the bar menu - it was owned by the same people as the Grand. The beer hadn't been great, there was no company, so I simply walked out again.
There was no one on the streets, either night. I once went to Iceland, where everybody had been making the most of the summer: it had a really busy feel, as if the locals were making up for lost time. It is possible that, like Reykjavik, Lerwick was at its liveliest late in the evening, but I saw absolutely no evidence of it. The place just seemed dead.
Mainland was fog-bound the two days I spent there, which was a pity. My first stop was Sumburgh Head, to look at the puffins. It was foggy, which shouldn't have surprised me. I saw a couple of puffins, but not the great many I had been expecting; I think I may just have been too early (which means next time I go to Shetland, it will have to be midsummer!).
There were however a lot of guillemots and fulmars.
Whilst the higher land was in cloud, at the water level it was clear. I went for a walk around Boddam Voe (where I had read on the internet there had been lots of otters recently). Several seals - their faces in the water surprisingly otter-like in the distance (though binoculars sorted them out); eider bobbing on the surface; and waders flitting along the sea edge. No otters.
I went back to Lerwick, stopping just outside the town at Clickminn. There I looked at the broch, a low (now), circular structure, moody in the mist; three thousand years old.
And then, just beyond the supermarket, I watched more seals lounging on the rocks, completely indifferent to the encroachment of commerce.
The next day - the last day - I drove across to the west coast, under and in the cloud. The museum at Scalloway was closed - it had been recommended, and I reckoned my refound affection for small community museums would have appreciated it - so I drove around some of the tiny roads and bridges connecting an archipelago of islands - Trondra, Burra, East Burra, Kettla. I went to Hamnavoe (there are several places called Hamnavoe, some pieces of water, some on land), I went to Bridge End (which, confusingly, is not at the end, but in the middle), and down to Houss (where there is a house), opposite the imposing cliffs of Clift on Mainland.
I went back to Lerwick, and had another look around the museum, and then I queued for the ferry, and sailed, overnight, back to Aberdeen.