Isle of Whalsay

Northern Isles

Lying off the east coast of Shetland’s Mainland, a little east of Voe, Whalsay, from the old Norse for ‘Whale Island’ is the 6th largest of the Shetland islands. Better known to Scottish fishermen as ‘The Bonnie Isle’, fishing is the foremost local industry with the main fishing fleet based at Symbister, the principal settlement. A museum has been created in the restored Symbister Pierhouse, also called the Hanseatic Booth, to exhibit details of fishing from centuries past, when German merchants from the Hanseatic League traded for the cured fish which were caught from open boats. The impressive Georgian mansion, Symbister House, overlooking Symbister harbour was built by the Bruce family in the early 1800s. The last resident laird died in 1944 since when the house has been the home of Whalsay School.