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Shetland: Descriptive and Historical
Part II: Chapter 20


Doura Voe—West Sound of Whalsey —Vidlin Yoe—Lunna— Parochial Statistics—-Industries, &c.

HAVING now endeavoured to examine the chief objects of interest in the North Isles, let us again return to Whalsey, and from that island, as a starting point, advance in a north-westerly direction. The great wide bay of Doura Voe separates Nesting from Lunnasting, and stretches for several miles into the land. Its ample waters afford excellent anchorage, but, unfortunately, commerce in these parts is very limited, and few vessels can avail themselves of the shelter of Doura Voe. Laxa, at the head of the bay, has long been famed for its excellent trout, from which circumstance it derives its name. The granite quarry of Stavaness, which point guards the entrance to Doura Voe, on the south, has already been mentioned. Unless for the building of Symbister House, the stone from this place does not appear to have been applied to any purpose.

Leaving Doura Voe, we proceed northwards through the West Sound of Whalsey, that is between the Mainland and the smaller islands east from Whalsey. On our left is a high and rather rocky coast, and on the right these picturesque little isles. Doubling the bold head of Lunning, we enter the pretty Voe of Vidlin. On the north side of the bay, and immediately opposite the headland just mentioned, the gneiss hills of Lunnasting, hitherto wild and rugged, assume a softer and more regular outline as they approach Lunna, where an isthmus connects the large peninsula of Lunna Ness with the rest of the district.. Here stands Lunna House, the seat of Robert Bell, Esq. of Lunna, the sole proprietor of the parish. This quaint and old-fashioned, but most comfortable and commodious mansioti, occupies a commanding position at the top of a steep ascent, immediately overhanging the low isthmus just mentioned. Never was a more romantic site chosen. The rugged hill opposite, crowned by a neat little tower; the pretty blue voe on either side; the undulating banks in front, and the well-trimmed gardens, lawns, and walks around, all render Lunna one of the most beautiful and picturesque spots that can be imagined.’ Its Norse name, which signifies sheltered place, is strictly true to .nature. The fine old Parish Church, well supported by buttresses, and an even more ecclesiastical-looking private house, serve greatly to ornament the low ground between the bays. Lunnasting, for many generations, belonged to the family of Hunter, of Lunna. On the death, Upwards of thirty years ago, of Robert Hunter, Esq. of Lunna, a gentleman much esteemed for his abilities and varied accomplishments, the estate passed to his only daughter, who was afterwards married to Robert Bell, Esq., advocate, for many years Sheriff-Substitute of Zetland. The Bells, sprung from an ancient Dumfriesshire family, have held a high place in the medical profession in Edinburgh, since the days of Benjamin Bell, the great surgeon of last century. The same family has given more than one able lawyer to the Scottish bar.

Around the head of Vidlin Voe, where the Pariah School stands, the land is rich and well-cultivated. There is a Society School at Lunna. The Established Church is supplied by a missionary, who is the only clergyman resident in the district. The Wesleyans and Baptists have each a small chapel at the head of Vidlin Voe, the most central spot for the population. Only an occasional service is held in these places of worship by ministers from a distance.

The deep-sea fishing is the chief industry of Lunnasting. As already mentioned, the men, during the haaf season, land their fish at the Skerries. There is one pretty large arable and sheep farm in the district; but the most of the cultivated land is divided into crofts. A considerable quantity of sea-weed is frequently collected along the shores, and manufactured into kelp.

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