In October 2019 there was a photography festival in St Andrews and since I’m a photographer, I thought this was a perfect opportunity to finally visit this town, which is well-known for its university. We only spent a day there and had a stroll around the town centre and along the pier. First, however, we went into the Holy Trinity Church, where the Protestant reformer John Know held his famous ‘Cleansing of the Temple’ sermon on the 4th of June 1559, which led to the ransacking of St Andrews Cathedral. There is also a castle, where Protestant reformers set up the first Protestant congregation in Scotland in the 1540s, among them John Knox as their religious leader. After being besieged by the Scottish and French army, they eventually had to give up and were exiled and punished. John Knox, however, managed to return to Scotland to finish his reformative task many years later. Overall, St Andrews has a great atmosphere and architecture, which reminds me a little of Edinburgh.
This island can be reached via a ‘tombolo’, which forms this interesting X-shape. (A ‘tombolo’ is a strip of land, often created through deposited material over time, which attaches an island to the mainland, creating a ‘tied island’.) There you find the remains of a 12th Century chapel, dedicated to St Ninian. On the 4th of July 1958 a local schoolboy by the name of Douglas Coutts discovered treasure under a slab marked with a cross on the chapel site. It turned out to be 28 pieces of Pictish silver artefacts, many of them jewellery, and the jawbone of a porpoise. This treasure was likely hidden during a Viking raid around 800 AD. The original items can be seen in the National Museum of Scotland.
After going up Ronas Hill we wanted to explore some more of the area that we could see from the top of the hill. The day was ending and we were quite tired, so we only saw a glimpse of the rock formations and sea stacks, but what we saw was very impressive, especially bathed in the light of the setting sun. The stretch between Hillswick and Tangwick is particularly beautiful, which is what you see in the first four pictures, including the peculiar pointy rocks known as ‘The Drongs’ (4th photo, also visible from the top of Ronas Hill). Then we drove over to the Eshaness area and stopped at Tangwick to watch the seals relax among the rocky shore.
We took a whole day to spend on Unst, as we needed to get the ferry first to the island of Yell, then from there the ferry to Unst. We drove straight up North and started of at the car park for the Hermaness National Nature Reserve to make our way to see the northernmost part of Britain. I have looked at maps before and noticed a place called ‘Outstack’ and thought to myself: Yeah, I want to go there. Maybe some other time. It is a tiny island and you probably can only get there by boat, but I still got to see it. Outstack is the very last bit of Britain before the North Pole. Of course the walk up there was stunning. We had to take care to not fall off the cliffs but they were absolutely scenic, just as Orkney’s cliffs had been. It took us roughly 2 hours to get up to the view point. Probably my favourite part of our Shetland trip.