This is a journey worth taking. Head north from Lerwick. Pass the ferry terminal, the museum and the fish shop and keep going until you see a sign for the Tingwall airstrip. Follow that road up and down many hills and around many lochs until you get to Bixter. You’ll know it because you will pass a small shop, two diesel pumps, and the UK’s most northerly Landrover franchise. Turn right towards Aith and just before you get there you will see a sign to Vementry. Follow it for 2-3 miles. At first there will be houses. After a mile or so there will be none. You’ll be on Vementry. Pass the lochs of Hostigates on the left (medium sized trout) and the small Mill Loch on the right (good for teaching children to fish). And you’ll see the farm ahead of you.
The main house at Vementry was built in the early 1900s and is exceptionally pretty: it is reputed to be designed by the famous Scottish architect Sir Robert Lorimer and comes with some of Shetland’s best views. If you stand in front of it you look out to the Isle of Vementry and Swarback’s Minn. On a sunny day – or a stormy day – there is little better. The cottage isn’t quite so pretty. It is a traditional single story Shetland cottage with two bedrooms, one bathroom and an eat-in kitchen. But what it lacks in immediate glamour in gains in its cozyness(we believe in heating) and its own stunning views (3). Stand in front of the cottage or sit in its sweet glassed in porch (if by any odd chance it should be raining) and you’ll see Criba Sound, a whole load of Shetland sheep and the odd seal. It’s very nice.
What will you do while you are with us? You can fish for hard fighting wild brown trout on our isolated lochs (tiny ones from the Mill Loch, bigger ones from Clousta, Aithness, Vaara and Hostigates). We’ll also arrange for you to have a license to fish the rest of Shetland should you so wish. Ask us nicely and we’ll also tell you where we last had a big catch of sea trout. You can bird watch and walk for hours on end andwe can also arrange for you to go and visit our seals (two large harems have made our beaches their home).
We can also load you into our boat and take you to our island to see the sights there (1). These include one of Shetland’s best preserved prehistoric heel cairns and some fabulous WWI guns which once guarded the entrance to Swarback’sMinnback in the days when it was used as an anchorage for the North Atlantic fleet. Look at the angle of the guns’ elevation when you go and see if you agree with us: we’re not sure they would have been of much use if push had actually come to shove. If you are lucky you’ll also spot an otter or two on land and a puffin pair on the journey over.
What won’t you do when you are with us? Anything to do with telecommunications. There is no phone, no TV and no broadband (2). We hope that’s the way you’ll like it. The cottage gets booked up early (and quite right too) and we are prone to nabbing the best weeks for ourselves in the big house if we think we can get away with it so contact us as soon as think you want to holiday in Shetland and we’ll reserve your weeks for you.
Lonely Planet has named Shetland as one of the top ten regions in the world to visit in 2011.
Describing The Shetland Islands as the ‘last untamed corner of the UK’, Lonely Planet invites ‘adventurous travellers to step this way’.
(1) Note that we can’t take you to the isle in May. That’s when our sheep are lambing. They’re a wild and flighty lot: disturb them and they tend to run off leaving their lambs behind them. Given that farming is our main business at Vementry, that wouldn’t be good.
(2) If you must communicate with the rest of the world there is broadband in Aith and if you walk to the top of one of our hills you’ll more often than not get a mobile phone signal.
(3) The cottage has a nice bath but no shower. There is one double and one single bedroom. Your linen and towels are included and there is a washing machine. If you have mobility problems note that there are two small steps to the front door. The house has four bedrooms each with either twin or double beds, 2 bathrooms, a large kitchen/dining rooms and a lovely drawing room.
(4) Vementry is 50 miles from Sumburgh airport, 27 miles from Lerwick and four miles from Aith. There is a small but well stocked grocery shop in Aith as well as Britain’s most northerly lifeboat station and a small leisure centre where you can swim, play squash and even, should you so wish, have trampolining lessons.