South of Scalloway are two remarkable lines of islands, parallel to one another and to the coast of South Mainland. They were connected by a series of three bridges in 1971 and it is now possible to reach all of the main islands by road.
A mile south of Scalloway the B9074 first crosses to the island of Trondra before, two miles further, making the leap to West Burra. A minor road south leads to Bridge End, from where it is possible to cross back over to East Burra.
But if you have got as far as West Burra you have to visit Hamnavoe. This settlement overlooks the sheltered inlet of Hamna Voe, protected from the open Atlantic by the arm of Fugla Ness and its lighthouse.
There were perhaps six cottages in Hamnavoe in 1890, but in the 1920s, when access was still via ferry from the Mainland, it was expanded with a series of rows of fishermen's cottages. Perhaps because of this Hamnavoe has been described as Shetland's only purpose-built fishing village. It is certainly one of the few places where you are likely to round a corner and come across a fishing boat propped up outside someone's cottage.
The cottages are typically single storey with two rooms, a central front door and a porch, often highly decorated. They tend to be made of rubble or concrete, plastered over, and most originally had felt roofs, though slate is now more common. A range of colours have been used, usually whatever was left over after painting the boats.
The heart of Hamnavoe is its harbour, complete with its pier. Here you can seen a selection of fishing vessels and pleasure craft. The pier is also one of the best places from which to get a sense of the layout of Hamnavoe, which is spread over the hillside above Hamna Voe in a way that is difficult to appreciate from many parts of the village.
A number of walks take in the best of the nearby coastal scenery. One excellent excursion leads around Hamna Voe to the lighthouse on Fugla Ness. This again offers good views of the village, together with a glimpse of the distinctive profile of the island of Foula rising from the Atlantic to the west. South of Hamnavoe is a car park close to the Sands of Meal, felt by many to be one of Shetland's best beaches.
Hamnavoe offers a number of examples of something now unique to Shetland. In most of Britain the Second World War saw decorative iron railings cut down and carted off for use in support of the war effort. Shetland was overlooked, or spared, depending on your point of view. As a result it is possible to see glorious examples like the one illustrated on this page. Spotting these railings adds interest to a tour of Shetland: but it is sad to realise just how much was lost elsewhere.