Still Winter, February 2019

One of the challenges - some would say opportunities - of travelling between Oxford and Shetland is not knowing what the weather is going to do when you get there.  Some (for example, work colleagues) would quite reasonably assume that if the weather is cold and bleak in Oxford and if one was to travel, say 562 miles, due North you could expect it to be rather colder and bleaker.

But it just doesn’t work like that.  

The seas around Shetland certainly make a difference but it seems to be more than that.  In fact, generally, it seems that the simplest way of guessing the weather would be to assume ‘the opposite’.  If it’s cold and icy in Oxford then it’s likely to be mild on Shetland.  If it’s blowing up a storm in central England, there will be crowds on the Shetland beaches.  If it’s hot and sunny in the Thames Valley, then the fog and mist will have descended around Sumburgh Airport.

So when one heads off from on a cold and icy Saturday morning from Oxford, it would be entirely reasonable to expect to need beach attire (*) when you get to the south end of Shetland.

Quendale Beach 
Quendale Beach

One of the other bonuses of being of on Sunny Shetland (as opposed to Overcast Oxford) at this time of the year is that it’s always Golden Hour - that magical chunk of time sought out by photographers when, around sunrise and sunset, the light takes on a lovely warm glow.  

When the time between sunrise and sunset is short (as it is on Shetland at this time of year) the sun never gets very high in the sky, so you’ve got a good chance of getting golden light at anytime during the day.

Golden Light on Scat Ness

The other (OK, maybe only) thing about Shetland weather that can be promised is that it is going to change.  If on one day the seas are smooth and flat, you can be sure that there will be waves rolling in on the next day.

Calm Seas around Mousa
Waves on Scat Ness

No guarantees mind, this is Shetland weather we’re talking about. 
Snow Clouds over Fitful Head


*In this context "beach attire" means one fleece plus walking boots and a woollen Fair Isle hat.