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Shetland: Descriptive and Historical
Part II: Chapter 40


WHITENESS

The Loch of Strom—Sinclairs of Strom, &c.—Parochial Statistics, &c.

REGARDING the parish of Whiteness, which lies immediately to the south of that of Weisdale, there is not much to remark. In the western part of the district the soil is fertile, owing to the presence of limestone. Two long and narrow promontories project into the bay of Scalloway. Of these the southern, called Ustaness, is of by far the greatest importance, being fertile, populous, and well cultivated. Stromness, the northern, is somewhat narrower than the other, and can boast of only a few crofts. At its point stands the neat house of Jackville, than which no better out-of-the-world residence could be found, even in the Ultima Thule.

The large Loch of Strom, separated from the Voe of Stromness merely by a bridge, runs north-eastwards into the country, for. a distance of three miles, until it loses itself amongst dark hills of gneiss. Over this bridge, which is supported by several small piers, the county road passes. So important was it reckoned in former times, that, in the beginning of last century, a collection was made over the whole Church of Scotland for the repair of the bridge of Strom. It has lost none of its importance since then, for were it removed the journey from Lerwick to the western districts of the country would be immensely lengthened. Several well-tilled portions of land lie along the western banks of the Loch of Strom. Near the bridge is the substantial little manor house of the Craigie family; and somewhat beyond it, the well-built parish kirk stands on a romantic stance, close to the water; while at the very head of the loch, the Wesleyans have erected a small chapel, for the benefit of the solitary crofters inhabiting the remote inland valley of Kuchron. Except that portion near the bridge, which is enriched by limestone, and well cultivated, the eastern shores of the loch consist of steep heathery hills. This fine sheet of water has its surface diversified by several small holms. On one of them are to be seen the ruins of a stronghold, where a son of one of the Earls of Orkney is said to have fled from the wrath of his father. A branch of the great Sinclair family, which, for many generations, held lands on the banks of this lake, seems to have produced some men of mark and valour. Dr Hibbert tells us that “Sinclairof Strom, in 1530, gallantly headed a number of udallers that composed part of the force which the Governor of Orkney raised in opposition to the designs of the Scottish Government, when, in favour of the Earl of Caithness, it was decreed that udal rights should be exchanged for feudal servility. In this contest the Earl of Caithness was slain; and in the subsequent reconciliation of the Monarch of Scotland to the udallers, Edward Sinclair, of Strom, with thirty companions in arms* received a respite from the King for a nominal term of nineteen years.”

Whiteness Yoe, which lies southwards from the ness of Ustaness, affords very good anchorage. Several good beaches along its shores are taken advantage of as fishcuring stations. Besides the parish kirk, where a Missionary on the Royal Bounty regularly officiates, it is provided with a little chapel, to which preachers of all denominations have access. There is also a good Society school in the district. The largest proprietors in Whiteness are the representatives of the late Captain Craigie, of Strom.

Overhanging Whiteness, on the east, is the high hill of Wormidale—so named from a small waterfall in the bum beneath—over which the county road passes. From the highest point of this road a magnificent view of Shetland isles and seas can be obtained, extending to Foula on the one side, and Whalsay Skerries on the other.


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