Unst is the most northerly inhabited island in Scotland. To get here, even today, you need first to get to Shetland, then head north. Catch a ferry to Yell, then cross Yell, then catch another ferry to Unst. What this means is that you don't tend to arrive in Unst by accident. You come here because you want to visit somewhere a little different: or perhaps because you want to complete your list of visits to "the most northerly..." town, church, piece of road, or whatever.
But coming to Unst and getting to know Unst are two rather different things. You can get a sense of the geography simply by driving around the island. But to get a sense of the history and the people - and you should if you are to get the most out of your visit - you could do far worse than visit the Unst Heritage Centre.
The Heritage Centre is open at the times shown on the right. It is located just to the west of Haroldswick and is run in association with the nearby Unst Boat Haven and joint tickets are available that give admission to both.
What you get from a visit is an insight into the life and history of Unst's residents over the years. Parts of the Heritage Centre have been converted into recreations of aspects of everyday life. One corner echoes the schoolrooms any of us over 40 might remember for ourselves. Another recreates the interior of a croft from the early 1900s.
Here you can see the kettle over the peat fire in the but (the front or living room); the box beds in the ben (the rear or bedroom); and the basic wooden furniture in both.
Other areas display crofting implements, aspects of church history, geology, archaeology and more. Particularly striking is the brightly painted peat cart in the entrance hall. There is also an extensive collection of old Unst lace, once an island speciality.
Living history demonstrations also take place. Unst residents show visitors how old skills like spinning are still in evidence on the island. There is also a family history area for those whose ancestors may have originated on Unst.