Friday, 4 May 2012


Looking at the map of the neighbouring archipelagoes of Orkney and Shetland, one notices a solitary, rather lonely looking speck of land between the two. This is Fair Isle, measuring just 3 miles from north to south and a mile and a half from east to west. The island has the distinction of being the most remote inhabited island in the United Kingdom. Fair Isle is officially part of the Shetlands, and can be reached from Shetland Mainland either by ferry from Grutness near Sumburgh, or by air from Tingwall. There is a bird observatory with accommodation on Fair Isle which is particularly popular during the spring and autumn migrations. The observatory was opened in 1948 by George Waterston, an ornithologist and former Director of the RSPB in Scotland, who bought Fair isle after World War II. It was a stint as a cook at the observatory that led to the writer Ann Cleeves falling in love with the island as well as her husband Tim who she met there. She has written a series of crime novels set in the Shetlands featuring investigator Jimmy Perez, the latest of which is Silent Voices. Aside from fishing and agriculture, the most well-known product coming out of the island is the Fair Isle jumper, a type of woollen characterised by bands of elaborate geometric patterns in different colour combinations.

It would appear Fair Isle has sporting ambitions out of all proportion to its size judging from an event held during last year's Tall Ships Races, which came to the Shetlands in July 2011. The island held a football match "Fair Isle versus the Rest Of The World". It is not clear who won, but full marks for trying!

Map of the area.

© 2004 Dave Wheeler, via Wikimedia Commons

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