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Scalloway lies some six miles west of Lerwick and is the largest settlement on Shetland's Atlantic coast. Until 1708 it was the capital of the archipelago. Scalloway lies on the north side of its sheltered harbour, and at the foot of the valley leading north to Tingwall, the traditional home since Norse times of the Parliament for Orkney and Shetland.
The name seems to come from the Norse Scola Voe, meaning "huts on the bay". The settlement was founded around the beach used by the Vikings to draw up their boats when travelling to Tingwall for the Parliament.
The town is dominated by the ruins of Scalloway Castle. This was built by Earl Patrick Stewart in 1600 as a means of securing his hold over Shetland and controlling the Parliament. When originally built the castle stood at the head of a promontory, surrounded by the sea on three sides.
Times have changed. The castle is still at the head of a grassy strip stretching back along the East Voe of Scalloway. But it has been increasingly surrounded over the years by land reclamation and harbour development as the importance of Scalloway's port has continued to grow.
As a result the castle is now a little less prominent than when seen in old photographs, but despite its busy new neighbours it remains at the core of Scalloway's sense of identity.
The village has at various times been linked to Orkney and to mainland Scotland by ferry services, though these finally ceased in the 1960s.
A less well advertised ferry service was operated from Scalloway by the Norwegian Resistance and British Secret Service during the latter parts of the Second World War. The Shetland Bus operated small boats to Norway to support the war effort there. It had started life at Lunna Ness on the east side of Mainland, but moved to Scalloway as the scale of its operations increased.
The central part of Scalloway lies around the north end of Scalloway Voe. A number of attractive buildings, many white-painted, face directly onto the bay, including the Scalloway Hotel. The village also has two runs of multicoloured terraced houses. Behind the main street itself is an area well worth exploring, containing a number of fascinating buildings.
As you move round to the west side of the bay, the space between the hillside and the water becomes narrower. Here, on West Shore, you can find Scalloway's active boatyard, with the capacity for quite large vessels to be drawn up for maintenance on its three slipways. A trawler drawn up apparently amid the village buildings, is quite a striking sight.
Still further west around the bay brings you to the Ness of Westshore, complete with the large and very attractive NAFC Marine Centre which provides training in the fields of nautical studies, marine science and technology, and seafood quality.