Fair Isle is famous for its unique bird species, rare plants and historical shipwrecks. It lies between the Shetland and Orkney islands and the land is protected by the National Trust for Scotland. Fair Isle is the southernmost of the archipelago, located 38 kilometers from the Shetland mainland and 43 kilometers from North Ronaldsay, the northernmost of the Orkney Islands.
Scandinavian settlers called Fair Isle - "island of peace", land in the sea was vital in times of war. The Earls of Orkney and the Vikings before them used it as an observation post and for sending signals and provisions to and from Shetland. The land became the property of the National Trust for Scotland in 1954. Today it is home to about 60 people and is a hotspot for birdwatchers due to its importance as a breeding ground for seabirds and a stopover for migratory species.
Purchase of land
George Waterston, Scottish director of the Bird Conservation Society, greatly influenced the history of the island. After the war, he bought it and took over as manager of the ornithological observatory in 1948, after which the region's economy began to improve. The museum named after him is full of exhibits telling the history of Fair Isle from ancient times to modern times.
Fair Isle Observatory
For more than 55 years, the world-renowned Fair Isle Bird Observatory has conducted scientific research on bird migration and seabird breeding colonies. Visitors to the island, even if they are not avid bird watchers, find the observatory's work fascinating. Unfortunately, the Observatory burned down in 2019, and funds are currently being raised to restore it. Meanwhile, from May to the end of October, visitors are offered a free ranger service.
Novelist Anne Cleeves, famous for writing the books on which the BBC series Shetland is based and the crime series Vera, first came here to work as a cook's assistant in Fair Isle. She fell in love with Shetland, although Anne no longer lives here, she loves the place for its flora. After all, more than 250 flowering plants grow here, including rare species such as oyster, viper's tongue, moon thrush and frog orchid.