…that gives a long lasting impression to the islands is found at Quendale. On the southern mainland coastline, and not at all far from Sumburgh Airport, this gem of sandy beach stretches over an English mile (1.6 km) across the Bay of Quendale and is easliy accessed, not by the footpaths from A 970 nor the village of Hestingott, but via a short distance south of the quaint Quendale Mill Musuem.
Historically, Quendale Beach wasn’t always as it looks like today. Over two hundred years ago, there is documentation of a sandy Sahara-like landscape that progressively fingered itself more and more inland each year. Due to the southerly Shetland winds, the sand covered good pasture land, making this area useless. There are accounts of how this “desert” was ruining the Quendale Kirk and its nearby graveyard. But, more about this later.
Apparently, the lairds at the time realized that, if nothing was to be done about the problem, they would have less and less land for pasture for their sheep. Greedily, they had grass planted and tended to for years in a successful attempt with stopping the sand from going further and saving precious pasturage for themselves.
Today, the area behind Quendale Beach still show the scars of sand dunes, now covered with grass, and gives a small reflection to how the area may have been like years ago. The beach is delightful and this, as well as the Quendale Mill Museum, is a recommended place to visit when in Shetland.