Whalsay School is situated in Symbister on the island of Whalsay, Shetland Isles. The three school buildings, Primary, Secondary and Nursery departments, are within 2 minutes walking distance of each other. The school serves the whole island from Skaw and Vevoe in the North, to Sandwick and Clate at the South end.
Shetland Islands, also called Zetland or Shetland is an archipelago of about 100 islands, although less than 20 of them are inhabited. The islands lie 130 miles (210 km) north of the Scottish mainland, at the northern extremity of the United Kingdom. They constitute the Shetland Islands council area and the historic county of Shetland. Among the settlements on Mainland, the largest island, is Scalloway, a fishing port. Lerwick, also on Mainland, is the islands' largest town and commercial and administrative centre.
The island of Whalsay, lying off Shetland’s east coast, is known locally as "the bonny isle" and is 5 miles (8km) long by 2 miles (3.2 km) wide. The main hub of activity is round the harbour area at Symbister. There is some crofting, but Whalsay is heavily dependent on fishing for its economic survival. The Island has a thriving and dynamic community.
The population of over one thousand strong has remained fairly constant for several decades. Whalsay’s largest settlement area is Symbister, with most of the other dwellings clustered around the NW coast. Whalsay has many interesting sites and activities. The Island has been inhabited since 3,000 BC and there is a wealth of buildings and artifacts dating through the ages. Neolithic remains, standing stones, Bronze Age mounds, an Iron Age fort and Viking implements all track the development of the Island.
In more recent times the development of the harbour and trading links with Europe have left several fine buildings around the harbour. The Hanseatic Booth, converted in 1984 to a museum and interpretative centre, is a prime tourist attraction. Traditional Butt n' Ben houses are now largely uninhabited, although several have been extended and heightened and continue to be occupied. Modern housing now dominates most parts of Whalsay.
There is a wealth of wildlife on land and sea. Trout fishing is available on the fresh water lochs. A camping böd, once the house of the famous Scottish poet Hugh MacDiarmid, and several self-catering units provide accommodation for visitors. The Isle also has the UK’s most northerly 18-hole golf course which is a popular attraction to tourists and Shetlanders; many competitions take place throughout the year.
Shetland dialect remains strong on the island. The broad and distinctive Whalsay accent varies subtly from place to place on Whalsay; there is often healthy and humorous debate amongst Whalsay folk about correct pronunciation and usage of 'Whalsay wirds'.
A modern leisure centre (opened 1990) - with a sports hall, a swimming pool, a squash court, and a viewing area - is situated near the Primary School. An outdoor multi-court, tennis court sized, is located within the grounds of Symbister House. In addition, there are two children’s play areas on the island, one next to the Leisure Centre, and the other near the Shoard charity shop at Brough. The marina at Symbister provides berthing for over 70 small, locally owned, craft. Whalsay boating club, also at Symbister, operates the marina. On the east side of the Island, the Oot Ower Lounge (opened 2001) provides refreshments in the lounge and public bars, and accommodation is available in nearby chalets. Recently, The Golden Kitchen opened its doors in 2007 at the Oot Ower Lounge serving Chinese food and providing a takeaway service. Whalsay F.C.'s home ground is Harbison Park, an artificial pitch, which was opened in 2003. Other sports are played on the pitch, such as hockey, and was it put to good use in July 2005 when the Island Games came to Shetland.
Whalsay and Shetland Links
Shetlopedia - page about Whalsay
Originart Shetland - hundreds of photos of Shetland