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Lerwick. Photo: Ronald Toppe

Lerwick, Shetland

11 months ago
Written by Ronald Toppe
Ports > Lerwick, Shetland

Lerwick, Shetland

11 months agoPorts
Written by Ronald Toppe
Lerwick. Photo: Ronald Toppe

Statsraad Lehmkuhl visits Lerwick April 9-12 2023

Lerwick is the largest town in Shetland, the archipelago north of the Scottish mainland. The town is located in the Bressay strait, east on the island.

Strong ties to Norway

People have been living on Shetland since the Stone Age, but in the early 9th century, settlers from Western Norway came to Shetland, the Orkney Islands and the Faroe Islands. Shetland was Norwegian until 1469, when King Christian of Denmark, Norway and Sweden borrowed money from Scotland with the islands as collateral.

The language that developed in the Orkney Islands and Shetland, Norn, was similar to that spoken in southwest Norway, and even after Scots took over in the 19th century, it is still easy for Norwegians to recognize many Shetland words and place names, such as Lerwick, meaning clay cove, Leirvik in Norwegian.

Lerwick harbour. Photo: Ronald Toppe
Lerwick harbour. Photo: Ronald Toppe

Tough

There is still close contact between Shetland and Western Norway. Lerwick is located 357 kilometers directly west of Bergen. It's only a day and a half away if you sail across, and Statsraad Lehmkuhl regards Lerwick as her second home port. The ship normally visits several times a year.

Although the voyage across the North Sea is short, it can be tough even in good weather. A current runs northwards along the Norwegian coast, and when the wind blows from the north, large, steep waves build up when the wind fights the current. And it is allways cold, even in the summer.

Rough sea, and cold, even in nice weather in mid June. Photo: Ronald Toppe
Rough sea, and cold, even in nice weather in mid June. Photo: Ronald Toppe

Fishing port

Scalloway further east was the main settlement until the 17th century. When fishing for herring and cod became important, Lerwick grew as a fishing port. The town is really nice, with low gray stone houses and narrow streets, surrounded by green hills.

Oil activity in the North sea and later fish farming picked up from the 70s, and Lerwick grew to the north and south. But the charming style has been retained. Today, around 23,000 people live in Shetland, most of whom work in agriculture, fishing and the petroleum industry.

Lerwick. Photo: Ronald Toppe
Lerwick. Photo: Ronald Toppe

The Shetland gang

During the Second World War, Scalloway was the base for the Shetland gang, people who fled from nazi occupied Norway across the North Sea in fishing boats. They became part of the Norwegian navy, and transported people and equipment between Western Norway and Shetland.

The events during the war linked Shetland and Western Norway even more closely together.

Mild

The weather in Shetland is influenced by the location in the middle of the North Sea. The climate is mild all year round, not unlike the climate in the west of Norway. The islands are low, and this means that it rains less than in Western Norway, around 1,000 millimeters a year. Winter is the wettest.

Northern gannets nesting in the cliffs of the island Noss in Shetland. Their guano is coloring the rocks white. Photo: Ronald Toppe
Northern gannets nesting in the cliffs of the island Noss in Shetland. Their guano is coloring the rocks white. Photo: Ronald Toppe

Thousands of seabirds nest in the steep cliffs, it is common to see seals along the coast and whales and dolphins in the sea. There are few trees in Shetland, both because of the climate, but also because the landscape is grazed by sheep and Shetland ponies.

Normal maximum temperature in April: 8.3 ℃
Normal rainfall in April: 68 mm

Next port: Bergen
Previous port: Puerto Rico

Seals resting. Photo: Ronald Toppe
Seals resting. Photo: Ronald Toppe
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The One Ocean Expedition is a circumnavigation by the Norwegian tall ship Statsraad Lehmkuhl. We aim to to share knowledge about the crucial role of the ocean for a sustainable development in a global perspective.

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