The ancient fishing port of Lerwick is the cultural and administrative hub of the Shetland Isles, the most northerly islands in Britain. Situated amidst an archipelago of islands with strong maritime links, the town has fascinating stories to tell as well as unique vernacular architecture to discover.
The town itself dates from the 17th century when it began to grow as a trading port for Dutch herring fishermen. Local merchants built Lodberries - houses and warehouses, each with its own pier, from which they could serve incoming fishing boats, directly from their own property - these are still there today, along the harbour front.
Overlooking the harbour, we see Fort Charlotte - built in 1665 and later rebuilt in 1780 - named after Queen Charlotte, George III’s consort. Fine views over the harbour can be gained from the fort which, though not in use today, was once a prison and a Royal Navy reserve base. 465 German passengers were once billeted here after the ship Lessing, bound for America, was shipwrecked off the Fair Isle in 1868.
The Victorian Town hall on Hillhead Street displays fine architecture and offers a delightful insight into the development of the islands through its stained glass windows - these depict the main events in Shetland’s history, in pictorial narrative.
We also explore the intriguing ‘closses’ (narrow lanes), which run from the harbour area to the top of the hill, home to many secret tales from the lives of the town’s inhabitants, including the smugglers who used to run clandestine operations beneath the town.
- Duration: 2 hours
- Language: English
- Included: Coffee tasting
- Requirements: Sturdy walking boots and suitable wet weather clothing required
- Wheelchair accessible: No