Lerwick Walking Tour, Fort Charlotte, and the Shetland Museum
- Lerwick guided walk: See and hear the colorful story of Lerwick – from its lodberries to its tollbooth (that’s not a typo) to its steep winding lanes and woolens.
- Fort Charlotte: Named after King George III's wife (and mother of his 15 children), this impressive 1782 fort had guns at all five corners. But no one to shoot at.
- Shetland Museum: Walk chronological galleries housing over 3,000 artifacts, and watch Shetland's unique culture and boatbuilding heritage come alive.
About this Lerwick tour
Founded as something of a guerilla marketplace serving 17th-century Dutch herring fleets, the original settlement at Lerwick was considered tawdry and lawless - and was burned to the ground by disapproving neighbor Scalloway in 1615 and 1625. Then again by the French in 1702. But eventually, an actual town took hold.
We'll walk the harbour where the lodberries are - flat rocks once used as piers for merchants unloading their cargoes directly into thick-walled warehouses and fish-drying sheds. The adjacent Mercat (market) Cross signifies this was a proper Scottish burgh, entitled to hold markets, levy customs, and charge tolls - which were collected at the tollbooth building, now an award-winning restoration that houses Lerwick's busy lifeboat station.
A climb to Hillhead, the old town's high point, reveals an intricate web of narrow lanes where 18th-century charm and fine sea views still prevail. Weather and schedule permitting, we'll head up to Town Hall, built in 1883 as fresh prosperity came to Lerwick. Symbolically, its back is turned to the old town, its face to the new.
We'll visit pentagonal Fort Charlotte, with its sweeping views of Bressay Sound. Not a single shot was ever fired at an enemy from here, but its tall bastions with seaward-facing guns remained ready. Until 1885, that is, when they were finally taken way.
At the Shetland Museum, you'll explore a large and impressive collection of artifacts, including full-size boats suspended within the three-story Boat Hall.
After the tour, feel free to spend some independent time checking out the local craft and knitwear shops. After all, this is where genuine Shetland wool sweaters are born. Pick one up here at the source.
Oh yes, smuggling was a thing in Lerwick
Where there's lodberries, there's firewater. As has been long suspected by locals, recent excavations have confirmed subterranean alleys running beneath several shops near Lerwick harbour. Apparently, back in the day, quite a few casks of Dutch gin imported into the Shetlands via Lerwick disappeared into a warren of hidden underground passages before they could be properly declared to customs officers. We're shocked to hear this. Shocked.
Please exit the tender pontoon to meet your guide. Please look for our GoBe Representative with the displayed logo sign.
In need of retail therapy after your tour? Your guide can advise you where to go in search of that "must have" souvenir to take home. Be sure to have some local currency and a backpack for all your great buys.
There is moderate walking involved, along with standing for prolonged periods of time. This tour is not wheelchair accessible.
Scenic, Cultural, Walking Tour
Tour Participation Requirements
This experience is rated moderate. Full participation may require extended periods of walking over even and uneven surfaces, steep terrain and/or water activity in a slight current. There may be steps, inclines, cobblestone surfaces, and extended periods of standing. Participants with physical limitations should take this into account.
Suitable for all ages.
Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.
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