Shetland – lying at 60 degrees latitude and made up of 100 islands, with only around 20 inhabited, it leaves plenty of land to be explored. While many tourists come to the islands for the incredible scenery, wildlife and history, what many don’t know are some of the incredible businesses and other things to do on the islands.
VisitScotland caught up with Ashlea (@the_island_mama_life) who is lucky enough to live on Shetland. As a mum of two, an avid explorer and keen photographer, Ashlea is always looking for ways to entertain the wee ones, so stay tuned to hear about some of her favourite places:
Aa Fired Up
Aa Fired Up is a small ceramics studio located on the heart of Lerwick’s commercial street. This family run business is the perfect place to visit on a rainy day in Shetland. Their store is full of unglazed ceramics to paint to your hearts content, from cups to flowerpots, Christmas decorations to vases and so much more, your creative juices will be flowing the moment you step in the door. We absolutely love coming here as a family and it’s a perfect place to keep the children entertained for a couple of hours. To top it off, they make their own homemade fudge which can be enjoyed with a cup of warm coffee (or juice). You leave your painted ceramics at the shop to be placed in the Kiln and then can be picked up at a later date where they’ll be shiny and ready to use.
Fjara is a beautiful café situated on the sea front of Lerwick with 5 star views that will blow your socks off. This family friendly, affordable café offers fresh local produce, delicious coffee and fruit smoothies to please the whole family. Every time we visit Fjara the service has been nothing short of excellent, the food is always tasty and there’s always something on the menu for all the family. Also a hot spot for peerie seals to bathe on the rocks or otters to scurry past, there’s a high chance you’ll spot the local wildlife while sipping your warm coffee – talk about bliss. Got a night away from the kids? Fjara is also open at nights with an incredible evening menu and yummy cocktails to relax and unwind with. The café is also just a short walk from Clickimin Broch and Sands of Sound Beach to take the family to make a perfect day out.
Island Larder is a brand new shop and café offering you a one stop shop for everything you need. On the ground floor is an incredible café, offering homemade locally produced ice cream, crepes, paninis, sandwiches and so much more. The middle floors boast a great selection of locally produced foods, all situated with the environment in mind. Bring your own tub to fill up with a huge selection of pantry goods. I also couldn’t mention the island larder without including their world famous puffin poo and fudge which is an absolute must to try if you are visiting the islands, just trust me!
If you’re looking for somewhere with a buzzing atmosphere and tasty food, The Dowry is your place. The menu here goes above and beyond and is packed with tasty dishes using local produce. There’s also a good variety of vegetarian and vegan foods that are innovative and full of flavour, providing options for everyone. Just want a short stop? The Dowry has an incredible range of home bakes and waffles to choose from, as well as coffees, smoothies, juices and more. With great views that overlook the harbour, the Dowry is the perfect spot to take the kids to spot boats, seals and other wildlife. In a non-covid time, this place also has regular live music sessions which I recommend getting to if you’re lucky enough to be on the island for.
Clickimin Broch – This iron age broch was restored and is now one of the most visited locations on the islands. Located in the heart of Lerwick, this impressive structure is a great place to take the family. With passages, cubby holes and secret rooms, it’s a great place to play hide and seek with the kids.
Sands of Sound Beach – not far from the broch you’ll also find sands of sound beach. This beautiful stretch of golden sand is our go to spot to take the boys to burn off their energy. If you’re here in the summer and feeling brave, try taking a dip in the North Sea. We always take a bucket, spade and a net as the rock pools are a great place to catch crabs (of course we always put them back under their rocks).