One of the major motivations for this trip was a chance to get some face time with the Islands’ most famous faces: Shetland Ponies. We got all we wanted and more thanks to several factors:
- It’s easy to seek them out. The Burland Croft Trail, for example, is very accessible. And you get a lot more than just oohing and squeeing at ponies: there are fancy chickens and ducks, sheep, and cows as well as interesting historical and agricultural notes along the trail.
- You don’t really have to seek them out. They’re happy to stroll over to your car if you pull over. And they’ll also come over to you if you’re tromping by on your way to a scenic coastline or a ruined castle or something. Wikipedia informs that there is a “general presumption of access to the countryside,” which might explain why we saw no one bothered at all about visitors in, near, or making their way through land with their animals munching away at the grass.
We got in the car one day early in our trip and headed from Lerwick toward Scalloway to check out a ruined castle. From there we continued onto the island of Trondra, looking for the Burland Croft Trail. We arrived at a farm house and weren’t sure we were in the right place until we noticed some signage indicating we were to head inside the barn and take a look around. We found some instructions for the trail, some local art for sale, a quern-stone, chicken feed, and a reference to milk bottles we didn’t understand at all. We headed outside to explore some more.
We walked across some pastures and were going to proceed through some more waypoints when a woman came rushing out of the farm house toward us carrying something. She handed two bottles of milk to Sarah and Resident Evil and I got the feeding on video.
She gave us some hints about interacting with her ponies: specifically not to get between her stud and the mares. That makes everyone nervous. Oh, and we were welcome to approach the cows, but they’d keep their distance from us pretty well. Pretty much everything else seemed kosher, including the ponies’ tendencies to chomp on my shoes and jeans while I just stood there.
From that point in the trip, pretty much wherever ponies presented themselves, the three of us turned into cooing, squealing morons with cameras.
Along main roads:
Off the beaten path, somewhat, on Unst:
Also on Unst, just beyond Muness Castle:
We saw a few cows, and the occasional ram, but oddly: not a single goat.
That might have to be a separate trip sometime.