Shetland Diaries - Day 6

Asta Golf Course, is situated next to Asta Loch. It’s a simple 9-hole course but well worth a round because of its lovely location. They do an interesting thing here to ‘spice’ things up. They switch the tees around mid-month to give two quite different nine hole tracks! The ‘Classic Course’ is available on the first two weeks of each month, identified by Yellow Flags and they say it offers a tighter, trickier challenge. The New Course is available the last two weeks of any given month and is identified by Red Flags which gives big hitters the chance to let fly with a few less water hazards and a bit more space. 

This is a really interesting concept, not unlike Bob Doak’s reversible golf course, ‘The Loop’ in Northern Michigan which I’ll be playing in a few short weeks. We played the New Course with its Red Flags - it was that time of the month. In a buffeting wind, the course was quite surly in places but are certainly wide landing areas. It’s a lovely wee course and one to be sampled whatever the time of month.  

Shetland Sea Kayaking

We had an appointment with Shetland Sea Kayaks and near the town of Scalloway we were joined by a group of Americans from Kansas City and Indianapolis. They’d arrived from a cruise ship and no doubt wanted to take a closer look at the seas they’d been sailing on. A kayak is the ideal way to do that. Angus and his daughter, Rosalind were exceptional guides and even if your kayaking skills are minimal as are mine, they’ll take you to some great spots where you can see seaside life such as seals, otters and birds close-up. It’s a very leisurely affair; we were pushed along with a pleasant breeze aft for most of the way so paddling was easy. 

The Village of Scalloway

Just six miles from Lerwick, Scalloway is Shetland’s second city, well not quite a city but a good-going fishing village. Once the capital of these islands, it’s a seafaring port where most of the scallops and whitefish are landed. 

Scalloway Castle dominates the townscape, built by Patrick Stewart, 2nd Earl of Orkney in 1600. You get some great views of the castle and village from the hillside road coming down from Lerwick. It’s also the location of the North Atlantic Fisheries College conducting courses in fisheries sciences, aquaculture, marine engineering and coastal management. 

The name Scalloway just screams seafood, doesn’t it! Within the Fisheries College is Da Haaf Restaurant and this is where we rushed, hungry after our kayak trip. Unfortunately, the kitchen closes at 2pm but the good lady proprietors rustled up some wonderful Cullen Skink soup to keep us going. And they told us to get booked up for an evening meal at the Scalloway Hotel - highly recommended they said.

Scalloway Hotel

By 8.30pm we were back at the Scalloway Hotel and settling into its main dining room.  Rumour has it that this is probably the best place on Shetland for fine dining but it’s also very popular for its bar food. My only complaint was the waitress traffic going to and from the busy public bar area carrying huge plates of fish and chips seemed endless. Not trying to be snobby but it sure must get busy through there. 

Back to our meal and it was impeccable. Peter and Caroline McKenzie run the show here, Peter in charge of the bar while Caroline conducts the two AA rosette restaurant. It really is fine dining with excellent sea-inspired canopies and amuse-bouche!

They also have twenty-three, simply-styled rooms using local wool products and fabrics. Peter gave me a quick look round when I popped in earlier to book the meal. This couple have got this place right on all levels and to be honest, Scalloway’s as good a base as Lerwick.