Shetland by bus

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Shortly before the world was plunged into chaos and travel plans curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic, Jonathan Welch was in Shetland to visit a number of local operators, and took the chance to try out the archipelago’s bus network while he was there.

When I visited Shetland, we were starting to see the first hints that the virus which had caused so much havoc in China was spreading around the world, but none of us could have foreseen what was to follow. Indeed, within a few weeks of my trip, the Shetland islands saw its first cases, and the sparsely-populated islands quickly became one of the worst-hit areas in the UK by head of population. I was lucky therefore to be able to complete the trip, which would have been impossible a month or so later. Thankfully, a swift lockdown and robust response meant that although the virus spread quickly across Shetland, it was contained quickly, with the islands not having had a reported case for over six weeks as I write this.

I don’t intend to dwell on the impact, however, as readers of any newspaper or magazine will be all too familiar with the effects of ‘the virus’. Instead, I would like to take readers back with me to early March, and on a journey around part of one of the UK’s most remote, scenic and close-knit communities: In contrast to some of the more serious articles in CBW recently, and in the absence of Alan Payling’s regular tales from the English Riviera, I hope readers will enjoy the light diversion.

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