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Introducing Shetland Islands

Close enough to Norway geographically and historically to make nationality an ambiguous concept, the Shetland Islands are Britain’s most northerly outpost. There’s a Scandinavian lilt to the local accent, and streets named King Haakon or St Olaf remind that Shetland was under Norse rule until 1469, when it was gifted to Scotland in lieu of the dowry of a Danish princess.

Though the stirringly bleak setting still feels uniquely Scottish, Shetland is far from a backwater: offshore oil makes it quite a busy, well-heeled place, with hotels frequently block-booked for workers. Nevertheless, nature still rules the seas and islands, and the birdlife is spectacular: pack binoculars.