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Community / Unst sky trail celebrates Shetland’s ‘amazing skies’

A TRAIL to showcase the wonders of the skies above Britain’s most northerly island – be it the northern lights in winter or the long bright summer nights – was launched at the weekend.

The project is the brainchild of Wild Skies Shetland, a registered charity run by community volunteers who are passionate about the natural landscapes of Unst and wish to share the beauty of its skies both by day and night.

With the aim of creating entertaining activities for locals and visitors alike, as well as boosting the island’s economy, the Sky Trail celebrates the ever-changing skies above Shetland.

“Shetland’s skies are amazing. They are always changing – dark and stormy one minute, rainbows the next, followed by some welcome sunshine,” said Catriona Waddington, chair of Wild Skies Shetland.

“The sky trail takes you round the lovely island of Unst, visiting a Viking longhouse, a musical bench with breath-taking views, past a ruined castle and along a sandy white beach to dance a jig at the far end.”

The trail has 13 stops, featuring different aspects of the skies including topics as diverse as dialect sayings about the weather, through Viking history and how they navigated, to contemporary issues such as climate change and tidal energy.

The trail can also be divided into four smaller sections to accommodate for shorter visits or excursions while still being able to make the most of what the Unst skies have to offer.

On Saturday the group had invited folk to a launch event in the Haroldswick hall to celebrate the completion of the trail, along with food, tea, home bakes, entertainment and information about the trail.

Wild Skies Shetland secretary Jane Macaulay added: “The launch went extremely well, we have already encountered so much interest from many different directions, so we are planning to build on that during the coming summer.

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“We are very dedicated to showing what the skies have to offer in Shetland, not only by creating customised trails, but more importantly by supporting and guiding people as they explore the skies over Unst.”

The event was also accompanied by the sound of local music, including a special performance of The Mirrie Dancers, a piece composed by harpist in residence Sunita Staneslow.

As well as this, there was a showing of Wild Skies’ short film An Asteroid Called Unst, inspired by the asteroid that takes its name from Shetland’s northernmost isle.

“This event was a great opportunity to thank all the supporters from the local community and funders who have accompanied us this far,” Macaulay said.

More information can be found at the Wild Skies Shetland website.

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