The Story Behind Voortrekker Shetland
Many people ask about us and the story behind Voortrekker Shetland?
For the most part this has been written by a very close friend of ours who has known since we were married.
Firstly, we would like to acknowledge with humble thanks the fellowship, input and support from the neighbours, local church members and South Mainland community.
A little bit of South African history...
What is a Voortrekker? This word is used to describe the Dutch (Afrikaner) people. Way, way back in the 17th century the Voortrekkers trekked across land and north from the Cape of Good Hope. Ultimately, this was to escape the historical British rule. However they also longed to find land and a home of their own.
So, packing up their ox-wagons they set off, occupying vast areas of Southern Africa until their independence was taken from them in the Boer War (circa 1900). The Voortrekkers were tough, God-fearing, self-sufficient people that lived off the land.
In many similar respects this reflects the story about Piet and Niki Steenkamp. Piet, a descendant of the Voortrekkers with Niki moved permanently from South Africa to the UK in 1999. Then, in 2009, on a whim, decided to visit Shetland and consequently fell in love with the island. Live many say, Shetland is like Marmite, you either love it or hate it!
Upon returning to Southampton, they found a piece of land online in Levenwick and simply bought it. Hence, began their great trek to the most northerly part of the UK!
Piet says: “When the Voortekkers set off north nobody told him where to stop, so he just kept going as far north as he could go”.
A little bit more about us...
How did Niki end up in South Africa? Her parents lived in Durban in the late 60's where her brother was born. After their return to the UK and some years on decided it was a good place to raise their children. For this reason in 1980, they decided to make a permanent move from Southampton to South Africa. They ended up settling in a town on the outskirts of Johannesburg in the Transvaal (Gauteng). This is where Niki grew up and received her education.
Predominantly, brought up English she never thought she would end up marrying a Boer. Similarly, Piet, never dreamed of having a red-neck for a wife! Well...life had other plans for both of them when they met in 1992. What's more, is that Piet had no idea that 7 years on, he would be moving north across Africa to a foreign land! As they say! The rest is history.
A new journey begins at Voortrekker Shetland...
Similarly to the Voortrekkers, Piet and Niki left Southampton in April 2012 in an old station wagon towing a caravan. Like his predecessors, they were also heading to a new land to a new life. The destination was the Shetland Islands, the last stop in the UK!
Some weeks later after their arrival, the final piece of setting up camp Voortrekker arrived, the containers! Whatever the weather the caravan and camp became their home for approximately 4 years whilst building.
What astounds me most is that Piet, almost singlehandedly built Voortrekker. Acquiring recycled timber from a local converted church, Piet built the internal doors, windowsills and cupboards. Furthermore, they recycled roof slates for wall tiles and installed an efficient underfloor heating system. Even more impressive is part of the heating system, which is a Rayburn stove that is over fifty years old. Piet configured all this coupled with an air source pump into the plumbing and heating of the house.
Shetland life continues...
What a remarkable achievement, working come, snow, gales or sunshine, and a testament to both Piet's origins and ingenuity. Consequently, not only did he build their home, but the basis of a first class tourist facility. It was built after gathering an understanding of all the trades involved and by showing great resourcefulness and craftsmanship. A superb and beautiful base from which to enjoy what Shetland has to offer.
Finally, at the end of 2016, the house was signed off and the next part of their journey began.
Voortekker Shetland is positioned with a stunning, infinity view of the sea, overlooking old crofts. Amongst the sheep in the surrounding crofts the property and home is shared with two peerie Chorkies, (Nina & Sandy) and part-time Bischon (Louis Armstrong). Out in the fields below you'll find Tom and Jerry (two whimsical goats), Mickey (cade ram, mates with the goats), Minnie (cade ewe) and plenty other sheep. All part and parcel of the story.