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Hermaness cliffs, Shetland
Hermaness cliffs, Shetland

Landscape and Wildlife photo tour: the Shetland Islands, 60 degrees north.

03-12th of June, 2018 - 10 days


Ten days photographic tour led by Patrick Dieudonne, experienced professional photographer, workshop instructor and tour leader. In partnership with Huwans Clubaventure, a well-known French agency which will take care of the logistics and bookings. 

This trip is aimed at both landscape photographers and nature and wildlife photographers. If the Shetland islands are widely known to host several millions birds in summer, few people know that they can also have the highest proportion of classified landscapes (NSA: National Scenic Area) in Scotland.

   Personally, as a landscape and nature photographer, I find happiness in both domains in Shetland, it is really what makes part of their originality. A good number of sites are declared as national nature reserves (NNR) or Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSI), but rapidly you can feel that the whole archipelago (a hundred islands) is as a whole a large reserve, and that birds (or otters) may be present almost everywhere.

You will benefit in this trip of my extensive knowledge of the place. You will learn more about its outstanding natural and geological landscapes, fauna, but also about its history and culture, forged in rather difficult and original conditions. The archipelago has indeed important archaeological remains and villages and houses are witnesses of a very distant past, before the discovery of oil in the North Sea, where life was much more difficult.

Small groups: limited to 6 photographers, + guide 

Note: this trip is open to all nationalities. I speak french and english and will be happy to welcome not just french-speaking photographers but english-speaking ones too in the same group.

Link to Shetland Gallery

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DATES AVAILABILITY COST
03-12th of June, 2018 (Sunday - Tuesday) green spaces available 2395*/2520 EUR (exc. airfare - *early booking) Paris-Aberdeen-Sumburgh (Shetland): between 450 and 500 EUR. 

* with less 5% for early booking (3 months in advance)
We can assist in your flights bookings, do not hesitate to ask !

Pre-booking and information:

 If you have further questions about this trip I will be happy to answer them. You may use the contact form below, send an email to info (at) patrickdieudonne.com, or call me.

 
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The Shetland Islands - Photographic Wildlife and Landscape Tour - 2018 

The Shetland islands are certainly a part of Scotland ... but are a world apart. Neither quite Scottish nor quite Scandinavian, the Shetlanders do not need to assert their difference, it is obvious. In the language at first, which includes many terms borrowed from the ancient Norwegian (Norse), inherited from the Vikings; then in a geographic position that makes Lerwick, the capital, closer to the Arctic Circle than to London ..

The Shetland archipelago stretches in a north-south direction for about 110 km (excluding Fair Isle) and east-west about 60 km at its widest point (without Foula). The deeply indented coast (small fjords are called "voes") and the sea level rise after the last glaciation create about 1500 km of coastline for an area of approx. ​​1400 km ². You are never more than 5 km from the sea in Shetland.

 The main island is Mainland, where is the capital, Lerwick (8000 hab. on about 20,000 for the archipelago). By air, one arrives at Sumburgh airport (South Mainland), by the ferry it's Lerwick. Mainland is divided into several quite different regions: South Mainland is more fertile and green, crops are possible, whereas the north consists mainly of peatland and bogs. 

Mainland hosts two picturesque towns, Scalloway, the ancient capital on the west side, and Lerwick, to the east. Lerwick, which has developed a lot recently, still retains its charm in the old town, with many houses and monuments of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. And a few miles from the city - a stunning experience - one of the wildest place in Europe awaits you: Noss island, with its sheer 180 sandstone cliffs and about 100 000 birds in the nesting season ! (over 15,000 gannets, puffins, razorbills, guillemots, great skuas, etc)

Heading west from Lerwick West Mainland, or simply Westside, is very accessible too. Dotted with small and bigger lakes it's a place for Red-throated Divers. This region of very ancient agricultural tradition was probably the oldest and more richly populated, and since prehistoric times (3500 BC) Neolithic sites show its good value. Stanydale and the village of Scord of Brouster near Walls are worth the visit into a fascinating past. From Mainland North, through a narrow isthmus called Mavis Grind, you access Northmavine peninsula. In many ways this is one of the most interesting places in Shetland. Its geological complexity (faults, volcanic rocks and granitic masses of Esha Ness) ensures that landscapes are first-class ones, of exceptional variety and beauty. 

Unst in the far north, is without doubt the necessary culmination of a visit of the archipelago: the landscapes of the "end of the world" Hermaness reserve are arguably the most spectacular in Shetland with those of Foula. At Saito, gneiss cliffs plunge almost 180 meters into the sea, and from top to bottom are covered with small white dots: gannets... Unst is also a paradise for Shetland ponies lovers. They are everywhere on the island, and very friendly for sure !

 

Shetland photo tour details

General information

 

Photo tour guided by Patrick Dieudonne, french professional photographer, organization and on-site assistance Huwans Clubaventure. Small groups of up to six photographers.

PRICE: 2395 €(early booking)/ 2520 € (excluding flight) 

 

Single room supplement: about 200 EUR

 

Booking Deposit: 300 EUR

 

Description:

(program can be slightly adapted to the group wishes or the weather conditions)

 

Day 1: Sunday

Departure from Paris or other airport of your choice to Aberdeen, NE of Scotland. Arrival around 13.30 in Aberdeen, then flight to Sumburgh airport. Arrival around 16.00. We collect our rental car at the airport and can begin to explore the south of the island, especially the southern tip of Shetland, Sumburgh Head, a place of spectacular cliffs, where puffins are easy to photograph. They can be photographed in flight at close range in the evening when they return to their burrows. Many other seabirds are also present on these cliffs. Killer whales, dolphins and even whales (humpback) are sometimes seen from Sumburgh Head.

Overnight: B & B in the southern part of the island (preferably) or in Lerwick, depending on availability.

 

Sumburgh Head, Shetland, le phare

Sumburgh Head, the lighthouse at sunset

Macareux moine - Puffin

Puffin at Sumburgh Head

 

Day 2: Monday

 

Morning: The south part of Mainland is quite different from the rest of the archipelago. Here the land is fertile and green (underlying rocks are limestone or sands), while further north moorland takes over. Many places are very photogenic, for example the famous St Ninian tombolo, a long sand spit connecting St Ninian to Mainland (the finest example in Europe) and Lake Spiggie, surrounded by hills where sheep graze and open to the sea at a short distance. The low-lying islands of Trondra and Burra, on Mainland's west coast, also offer beautiful views and small villages pleasantly sited. In good weather, between the blue sea and sandy beaches, on which you can see seals basking, the whole area is really enchanting. We will visit also a ancient crofthouse, typical dwelling of the old times in Shetland (Crofthouse Museum), a fine example of traditional architecture (Dunrossness).

 

Le tombolo de Saint Ninian

Saint Ninian tombolo

Loch of Spiggie

Spiggie Loch

Crofthouse Museum, Dunrossness

Crofthouse Museum, Dunrossness

Afternoon: In the afternoon, we will take a boat trip to the island of Mousa, where stands the famous Mousa broch, 2000 years old, the best preserved throughout Scotland. A broch is a fortified tower, typically Scottish, built in the Iron Age, for defensive purposes. The broch has a massive bottom and is narrower at the top. It is more than 13 m high, and one can visit the interior. But this is not the only attraction of Mousa, the whole island is a haven for wildlife, and it is usually easy to take good pictures of black guillemots, fulmars, arctic or great skues. Harbour seals are abundant on the east coast. During the crossing, it is often possible to see porpoises, well present in this area.

Labbe parasite, Mousa

Arctic Skua patrolling Mousa

Broch de Mousa

Moiusa broch, 2000 years old

Phoque veau marin

Harbour seal, Mousa

Night in Lerwick, hotel or B & B, we'll explore the old city and its baronial architecture.

 

Day 3: Tuesday

Around 9 h00, we fly to the pearl of the Shetland island, Foula, a place rarely visited and away from tourist routes. The approach by air, in nice weather, is unforgettable. First we'll fly over West Mainland and countless small islands of the west coast, then cross a stretch of water of about 30 km before arriving to Foula, standing proudly like a fortress in the sea. This island can boast indeed the highest cliffs in Britain (with the volcanic island of St. Kilda off Scotland). The Kame culminates indeed at 376 m above the sea, and the whole north coast, battered by the waves, and adorned with beautiful natural arches (including Gaada stack, as big as the Arc de Triomphe) hardly drops below 200 m. Everything is original and grand here, the island, populated by only 20 people, also boasts the second largest great skua colony in the world (over 2000 pairs), intrepid shetland ponies frolicking on the edge of precipices, and its own breed of shetland sheep. The Foula sheep fleeces are of all colors and all variations (there are dozens listed).

 

Da Nort Bank, Foula, Shetland

Foula: Da Nort Bank and natural arches. 

We need sufficient time to explore this beautiful place, so we will not take the plane back in the afternoon but stay the night also in the only B & B on the island. For people who do not want to walk too much (exploring the island by foot makes for a 7-8 km walk), it is possible to explore the lower part of the island and photograph many birds at this level (Arctic terns, guillemots, skuas, fulmars, etc.), while I accompany the group in the upper part. This exciting exploration of Foula's high cliffs will take place weather permitting.

Note: The program for the day is dependent on weather conditions ("weather permitting"). Sometimes a persistent haze do cancel flights to Foula. In this case we will offer another program of course, but in this season, we have all the chances, there is normally no problem.

 

Grand labbe

Great Skua

Day 4 : Wednesday

Back to Mainland from Foula, departure at 9.30 AM. If there is one place that can compete with Foula, it is Noss . We take the ferry from Lerwick to Bressay and a small dinghy to the island of Noss, a national reserve. After a few km walk along the low coast, we arrive at the Noup of Noss (181 m), an extraordinary place where each niche in the rock, each ledge is occupied by colonies of guillemots, or Gannets (8000 pairs), an incredible sight. The smell and sound are amazing, while at your feet, in the grass, puffins come and go from their burrows to the sea below. There are also varied and spectacular vistas all along the coast. We spend most of the day on the island , which is not too much to appreciate it fully. In the evening if time permits we will visit the island of Bressay, its lighthouse, built by the Stevenson family, and probably enjoy beautiful views of the old town of Lerwick from Bressay, across the Strait . 

Fou de Bassan, Noss, Shetland

Gannet, Noss, Shetland

Night at Lerwick, hotel or B&B.

Day 5 : Thursday 
In the morning, around 7am, we embark again to Noss from Lerwick, on board a fishing boat. I will try to get an early departure for our group, because the majority of boat tours for Noss start too late to my taste. It is possible to approach the birds very close by boat, while they are fishing at the bottom of the cliffs. We will be able to enjoy this great natural spectacle from a different perspective. A visit that beautifully complements our exploration of the previous day, and produces radically different pictures, perhaps even more spectacular. Near Lerwick the boat allows us a very close encounter with grey seals used to human presence, another chance for new and interesting pictures.
In the afternoon we will explore other parts of Shetland to the north and west, particularly the West Mainland peninsula, seascapes, landscapes dotted with small lakes where the red-throated loon nests, and very interesting neolithic archaeological remains (oval houses, Stanydale temple). In the evening we’ll head to another peninsula further north,  Northmavine, that will be explored further the next day. Night at Hillswick, Northmavine, in B & B or hotel.

Temple de Stanydale, Shetland

Stanydale temple, Shetland

Day 6 : Friday 

We spend the day on Northmavine, a remarkable place in many aspects. Northmavine boasts the highest hill in Shetland, Ronas Hill, a large granite dome about 10 km in diameter, which, despite its rather modest  height (450 m), hosts many arctic and subarctic plants and species, and presents a climate comparable to Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Scotland. Ronas Hill dominates Ronas Voe, the longest « voe » or fjord in the Shetland islands, views over the fjord are pleasant and varied.

 

Le fjord de Ronas Voe, Northmavine, Shetland

Ronas Voe, Northmavine

But Northmavine also offers an especially remarkable coastal scenery, unique in Europe. A Eshaness the sea has eroded an ancient volcano, producing stunning erosion structures such as vents and chasms inland. The basaltic coast is literally torn out by violent winter storms, with many stacks, reefs and rocks in the sea. A beautiful place, especially at sunset. A short distance away, in St Magnus Bay and near Hillswick, one can find also very nice red sandstone cliffs and stacks with remarkable shapes, such as the Drongs, shaped like a Gothic castle, or Dore Holm, the "drinking horse", a massive arch under which a ship can pass. These special places house also, of course, their share of seabirds, including kittiwakes and guillemots.
Night at Hillswick, Northmavine, hotel or B & B.

Dore Holm, the drinking horse, Eshaness

Dore Holm, the "drinking horse", St Magnus Bay

Day 7: Saturday 

We continue our journey to the northern islands, and take the ferry to Yell and Fetlar, the green "garden of Shetland", which hosts interesting plants and animals, difficult to find elsewhere in Shetland. The island is pleasant, with a feel like being out of time as will show a visit to Brough Lodge, an old abandoned mansion. Nearby otters are often seen, and I have taken photos of them too in this place (and in other places on the island). Otter is probably the most iconic Shetland species, with higher densities all over Shetland than anywhere else in Europe (one otter per km of shore). Observation is almost guaranteed, because we will be in some of the best places, however good otter photography is not easy, because otters are rather shy, with good sight and ears, a developed sense of smell. We will spend some time on otters, but results can never be granted.

Loutre d'Europe, Shetland

Otter with prey, Shetland

A few otters are more tolerant of human presence when they live near the ferry docks, it’s a matter of chance, but in all cases, Fetlar is one of the very best places for this species. We also have a good chance to photograph the very rare (in Britain) and funny red-necked Phalarope (Fetlar boasts 90% of the total population in Britain). Imagine a bird with no fear of humans, a quite hyperactive bird, chasing mosquitoes right at your feet. A very special species where the female has more colors than the males, which incubate and take care of the young birds.

Phalarope a bec mince

Phalarope

In the evening we take the ferry to Unst, the northernmost island of the archipelago. We take our quarters in a former RAF military base (Saxa Vord radar station), recently converted into a resort complex. Saxa Vord resort is conveniently located just north of the island, close to the great national reserve of Hermaness.

Night at Saxa Vord resort, Unst.

Day 8 : Sunday 

We need the day to explore Unst and Hermaness National Nature Reserve at our own pace. There are a few km walks today, as the spectacular cliffs of the west coast are only accessible by foot. However, the main tracks are well laid out and allow relatively easy access to Hermaness, there is no more difficult passages through peat bogs or wetlands as it was the case in the past. Hermaness has a very special atmosphere : the sky is criss-crossed by great skuas, very numerous here, or gannets, and the big cliffs offer great views in all directions, and especially to the north. Muckle Flugga and its lighthouse is specially photogenic. Gannets and skuas in flight or on the cliffs offer many opportunities, and it is also possible to sit in some places very close to puffins, and try a mix of landscape and wildlife photography in stunning scenery. We will be on the cliffs at the end of the day to get the best light.

Falaises d'Hermaness, Unst, Shetland

Hermaness NNR, Unst

Macareux, Hermaness, Shetland

Puffins, Hermaness, Unst, Shetland

Night at Saxa Vord resort, Unst.

 

Day 9 : Monday
We spend another morning on Unst for more landscapes and Shetland ponies also (as it is on Unst that Shetland ponies are most numerous) . We can also visit Keen of Hamar botanical reserve, to discover a few subarctic plants, and especially the only endemic flower in Shetland, Edmonston’s Chickweed (Shetland mouse-ear – Cerastium nigrescens). We then take the ferry to the south, through Yell, that we will explore a bit further. This island, which seems less attractive than its counterparts at first, can offer beautiful pictures in some places if the light is present,   we will be ready to exploit it. It will be possible to explore in the afternoon new places on Mainland North (Lunna Ness, for example, which hosts a good otter population) or more to the south, according to circumstances. In the evening, we can for example visit Scalloway, the ancient capital of Shetland (beautiful medieval castle ), or any other place where you want to return in this area. Night at Lerwick, hotel or B & B.

 

Poney Shetland Unst

Shetland pony 

Day 10 : Tuesday 

Free time at Lerwick for some shopping or photography, depending on your taste. Road to Sumburgh airport, flight to Aberdeen, at 1:30 p.m. Flight Aberdeen-Paris arrives at 10 PM .

 

 

 

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What's included:

 

• All ground transports. 
• Full board
• Hotel and B&B (double room basis) 
• Pro advices and tips in the field.

 

What is not included:

 

• Travel insurances 
• Photo gear 
• Alcoholic drinks and personal items.

 

Photo Equipment

 

• SLR (digital or film)

• Sturdy tripod, ballhead, etc.

• Lenses for landscape photography:  wide-angle (below 24 mm), transstandard 24 or 28-70 mm, medium telephoto zoom lens (70-200). A longer focal length, but not too heavy, can sometimes be useful for  details or wildlife (300-400 mm). 

 

 

 

Fitness

 

It is necessary for this trip in fairly remote areas of Scotland to be in good shape and properly equipped (see below). Nevertheless this tour is not about hiking or trekking. Car allows close or relatively close access to the main points of view, but moderately difficult walks are sometimes necessary to find the best spots.

 

 

 

Weather / clothing

 

• Clothing: Whatever the season, Scotland can be cool, especially morning and evening. In summer, it can be quite warm during the day. In all cases, humidity is a factor to consider. The months of May and June, however, are the driest months of the year in Scotland.

We recommend multi-layered clothing, with the last layer being windproof breathable Goretex. Woolen hat is recommended in your luggage, it will bring you extra comfort in windy conditions, fine gloves can be useful in mid-season.

 

• Shoes: this is not to be neglected. The land in Scotland is often wet and boggy, and you will need good walking and waterproof shoes. The best shoes, for me, are all leather shoes with a goretex membrane. They must be worn before first use in Scotland, to prevent blisters. Gaiters are recommended for complete protection against moisture. Rubber boots can be useful in some rare cases, but don't bring them in your luggage, they could be bought locally if necessary.

 

 

Vieille ville, Lerwick, Shetland

Old town, Lerwick

 

Lerwick, vieille ville

Town Hall, Lerwick

 

Accommodation and food:

 

Accommodation is provided in Guesthouse / B & B **** or *** or hotel ** or *** , in double rooms. Single rooms on request.

Food: Breakfast and dinner at the hotel or B & B. Breakfast can be "continental" (classic) or Scottish (beans, sausages, etc.). Lunch can be taken in a pub or restaurant, or be a simple picnic, according to the conditions and places. Wherever possible, we prefer a real meal.

 

 

Transportation:

 

We'll use a 9 seater van for a group of 6 photographers max. so you'll have enough space for equipment and luggage.

 

 

Bookings

Pre-booking is made on this site (please use the form above), then we will arrange the booking (deposit) and the final payment with our partner Akaoka.

 

 

Airfare:

From Paris to the Shetland islands (Paris - Aberdeen - Sumburgh) approx. 450-500 euros (yes it's rather expensive). Contact us in all cases for hours, advice and tips, we'll be happy to help. 

 

Other questions?

Contact us using the form above or call if you need further information.

 

 

 

Fulmar boreal, Shetland

Fulmar 
 

Contact

Patrick Dieudonné Photo
9 rue de Sampigny
55300 Han sur Meuse
FRANCE
Tel: + 33 (0)3 29 92 08 89
Mobile: +33 (0)6 79 63 27 25

We speak english end French.

DOCUMENTS / DOWNLOADS

Booking form Shetland 2018 (pdf)

Booking form Shetland 2018 (Word)

 

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Gaada stack, arche naturelle, Shetland

Gaada Stack natural arch, Foula

 

 

Falaises de Noss, Shetland

Noss by boat

 

The Noup of Noss, Shetland

The Noup of Noss

 

 

Fou de Bassan, Shetland

Gannet, Hermaness

 

 

The Drongs, Northmavine, Shetland

The Drongs, Northmavine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brough Lodge, Fetlar

Brough Lodge, Fetlar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Macareux, Hemaness, Shetland

Puffin, Hermaness cliffs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scalloway Castle

Scalloway Castle

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