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Driving as a tourist

Joshua Tree...
Destination Expert
for Joshua Tree National Park
Level Contributor
1,299 posts
205 reviews
Driving as a tourist

Hi.

We arrive on a cruise ship IN LERWIN, the time in port is 8am -5pm.

From reading the Lerwick forum - I am thinking that renting a car could be best for us. (I know you call it "hiring" a car there?) My husband is worried about driving & thinks it's a bad idea - "what if something happened?"

I have driven in Los Angeles my entire life where we have 4-5 lane freeways, bumper to bumper traffic & crazy people zipping around & cutting us off illegally so I am not as worried although I am concerned about driving on the opposite side of the street (Americans call it the "wrong side" lol).

Is there a lot of traffic in Lerwin area? Is parking fairly easy? Are we better off with a bus and maybe a taxi combo?

Things I'd drive to (or bus or taxi) - if time:

Sumburgh Head Lighthouse, Sumburgh

Jarlshof Prehistoric and Norse Settlement, Sumburgh

Eshaness Lighthouse - I realize this is the opposite end so maybe no realistic?

Shetland ponies - thinking we'd pass some somewhere?

Drive through stop at Scalloway maybe?

Drive by/ through Tingwall Loch

Shetland Museum and Archives, Lerwick,

Any advise, comments, tips appreciated.

Edited: 08 June 2018, 23:10
6 replies to this topic
Joshua Tree...
Destination Expert
for Joshua Tree National Park
Level Contributor
1,299 posts
205 reviews
1. Re: Driving as a tourist

One more question - it seems that going to the opposite ends Eshaness and Jarlshof is probably not realistic in our time frame? If not thoughts? Suggested itinerary welcome. :-)

Gloucester, United...
Level Contributor
4,986 posts
103 reviews
2. Re: Driving as a tourist

Have either of you driven on the correct side of the road (the left) before? :-) My gut feeling is that just for one day you would probably be better off either using a taxi or organised tour. If you try the taxi option you would almost certainly need to book in advance as you probably won't be the only people with this idea.

Shetland Islands...
Level Contributor
340 posts
5 reviews
3. Re: Driving as a tourist

If you come off the boat at 8 am then you are liable to set off just when the morning rush hour is at its height. Most people work in Lerwick so there is nose to tail traffic up till 9am when it settles down.

If you want to see Shetland ponies you will see plenty if you drive to Scalloway and the Tingwall valley. There are places where you can pull off and speak to them. There are usually a couple in the park next the Scalloway Museum as well.

You are right it is a bit much to try and do both Sumburgh and Eshaness in the one day. You could do it if you have your own transport but you wouldn't have time to do them both justice.

If you are driving Sumburgh is the best bet. Ther is a two lane highway to the airport. The road up to the lighthouse is single track for the last mile or so.

Going to Eshaness involve several miles of single/one and a half lane road.

The last section of the roads to both are unfenced so you need to watch out for sheep with a death wish wandering out in front of you.

Joshua Tree...
Destination Expert
for Joshua Tree National Park
Level Contributor
1,299 posts
205 reviews
4. Re: Driving as a tourist

Thank you for your thoughts and tips. I have never driven on the left side and my husband did once and said his brain was screaming at him the whole time, that it was very weird. Plus he still is worried, that the rental car could break down and we'd miss our boat.

So I am going to bite the bullet and pay for a Sinclair taxi tour which comes very highly rated here. They wrote:

"To do the South end of Shetland we need a minimum of two and a half hours to go right down to Sumburgh head, This would also include Scalloway and Scalloway castle.

We can also go North passing through Mavis grind, to visit the Eshaness cliffs in three hours again coming back through Scalloway, or do both North and South in about five hours. "

My husband and I love ruins so I know we'll want to take our time at the Jarlshof Prehistoric and Norse Settlement. And hubby is REALLY into photography, so you know that drill ("just one more photo honey."). So as much as I want to go to Eshaness, I'm thinking that might be too much driving and not enough sightseeing? And that we could easily spend 5 hours just wandering the south end and then Scalloway and you called in Tingwall Valley - that is nice to drive through?

And if the fog sets in, we could still see the Sumburgh Head Lighthouse, right?

Shetland Islands...
Level Contributor
340 posts
5 reviews
5. Re: Driving as a tourist

Yes if you want to make the most of your trip I would recommend just doing the South End. The lighthouse is open to the public and has some exhibitions you can visit. The cliffs at Sumburgh are not a spectacular as Eshaness but there is a wall running along them so you can stand near the edge in safety.

The Tingwall valley has farm land on the west side and heather clad hills on the east. At the south end of the valley a local pony breeder has made a layby next a field where she keeps Shetland ponies so tourist can stop and pet them. Farther north is the site of the Norse Ting where Shetland was ruled from up to the 16th century. The church has ruins that date back to the 12th century.

Joshua Tree...
Destination Expert
for Joshua Tree National Park
Level Contributor
1,299 posts
205 reviews
6. Re: Driving as a tourist

Thanks John.

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