A travel blogger with an international following has completed an action packed trip to Shetland to let potential tourists know it is open for business.
Kay Gillespie, who blogs as The Chaotic Scot, spent four days visiting the isles as part of a campaign supported by Promote Shetland, VisitScotland and Loganair.
The professional travel writer, who had been forced to put her adventuring on hold amid the Covid-19 pandemic, said Shetland was a “dream” getaway destination.
“I’ve had the best time here,” she told The Shetland Times.
“It just felt like the perfect post-lockdown escape.
“With the wide open spaces, wild scenery and total lack of crowds, it was exactly what I needed after months of being confined to the city.”
Kay, who lives in Leith, used her visit to highlight the hard work that businesses had put in to make themselves safe for visitors.
She also showed off Shetland’s many natural attractions that folk can visit without mingling with crowds while the virus is still a concern.
“A lot of it was about spending time in the outdoors,” she said.
“Some sites and attractions are still closed at the moment, so rather than ticking off all of the tourist sites it was really about appreciating the scenery, which so many people are craving right now.
“It felt good for the soul.”
During her short stay, Kay visited Chris Dyer at Garths Croft in Bressay for a tour of his “wee island gem”, to see how he has been growing fruit and vegetables, raising native and heritage breeds and building dry stone dykes.
She took a misty, atmospheric tour of Eshaness with local guide Drew Ratter, who taught her some of Shetland’s history; cycled a soon to be available e-bike around Ronas Voe and went for a paddle with Sea Kayaking Shetland.
Other highlights included a walk around Fethaland, for “some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen”, sea swimming and a visit to David Murray’s croft to see a special sheep dog demonstration.
Kay said that her social media posts of Shetland had proven particularly popular with her 14,000 followers – many of them international travellers.
“I think it’s definitely captured people’s interest,” she said,
“Lots of people knew about Shetland – it was reinforcing that desire to visit.”
As well as promoting Shetland, Kay said she wanted to highlight the importance of behaving responsibly when visiting.
“The locals I met were very welcoming,” she said.
“But I’m sure there are still some who are quite wary about people visiting, particularly from highly populated areas.
“So it’s an opportunity to remind people about their responsibilities around things such as wearing face masks, social distancing and using hand sanitiser.”
For her final post, Kay summed up her trip to Shetland: “After being stuck in our own wee bubbles for months, these human interactions are so precious – as was my time in the outdoors.
“I lost myself in the wild and wide open spaces, and found my confidence in travelling solo and blogging again.
“Shetland made me feel really alive.”
David Nicol at Promote Shetland said Kay’s visit had been supported by Promote Shetland and Loganair with itinerary planning assistance from Steve Mathieson at Visit Scotland.
“I think it’s another good example of collaborative working by our different organisations, and we are delighted with the response to Kay’s social media posts so far,” he added.
“It is clear that many of her followers are now even more keen to visit Shetland.”
Take a look at The Chaotic Scot on Facebook to find more.