This morning, we awoke with National Geographic Resolution positioned in front of Noss Head, the southernmost part of the Shetland Islands. The 200-foot cliffs were made of red bed sandstone, the same rocks as the Catskills in New York since the Caledonian mountains of Scotland are a continuation of the Appalachians. There were thousands of beautiful gannets flying around the cliffs, coming and going from their nests. These white and buff-colored seabirds nest off on narrow ledges on these vertical rock cliffs to avoid predators.
After breakfast, we departed from the ship for our morning activities. Most guests went on hikes along coastal sea cliffs of the Shetland Islands. We walked by several moors, which are uncultivated highland areas covered in low-growing heath. There were sea birds flying over the coast, sheep grazing in the meadows, and sea cliffs overlooking the North Atlantic. There were curious circular stone enclosures where farmers grew cabbage protected from the winds and high latitude (60 degrees North) weather.
Several groups stopped to learn about the famous Shetland ponies, which were bread with long hair and short legs. We learned that these ponies are exported all around the world. As with the sheep, there were several babies at this time of year. Many guests stopped to visit a local fisherman, who showed off his one-man fishing boat. He explained, in his heavy Scottish accent and dialect, that he catches fish, crabs, and lobster, depending on the time of year.
In the afternoon, some groups went hiking along the sea cliffs. There also was a walking tour of Lerwick, where we learned the fascinating history of this quaint town. The Shetland Islands were originally populated by the Vikings and Scandinavian languages were spoken here until the islands were handed over to Scotland in the 1700s. The town started as a fishing village, and then grew up the slope when it became the government center of the islands in the 1800s. Most of the buildings are Georgian style, with symmetrical stone block structures, giving it a distinct Scottish feel.
During recap, we learned about sea birds nesting on sea cliffs and photo tips. After a delicious dinner, the ship cruised out of Lerwick Harbor and then south toward another great location in Scotland.