North Mainland, Shetland

Cycle Routes


    Quiet roads, sea cliffs and wild beaches.

    Hillswick was developed as a fishing station during the 19th century, the local St Magnus Bay Hotel was built of scots pine in Norway and re-erected in Hillswick at the beginning of the 20th Century; it was the Shetland terminal of the old North of Scotland Shipping Company.

    Ronas Hill at 450 metres is the highest point in Shetland. It has a watchtower and on a clear day offers great views of all the groups of islands. There will be alpine flowers around and lots of mountain hares. You might also spot a snowy owl.

    The coast at Eshaness is a mass of cliffs, stacks and arches where the sea, cutting into faults has created unusual features. This is a great place for seeing guillemot, puffins, fulmars and other sea birds - just make sure you don't slip!

    As well as the Jonnie Notion's camping bod Hamnavoe also has a great pebble beach where winter storms have driven the pebbles to 18 metres high. You won't meet Jonnie however as he was born in 1740. Despite never receiving any schooling he became the local weaver, blacksmith, clock repairer, joiner and bone setter. He was also more successful in dealing with smallpox than the local doctors.

    Route Description

    North Mainland has a lot of dramatic scenery including Ronas Voe the only real fjord in Shetland. There are cliffs at Eshaness, and Ronas Hill at 450 metres is the highest point on Shetland. There's also a wildlife sanctury, and if you are up for it, a place to stay at the camping bod at Hamnavoe.

    You might be tempted to go up to North Roe but in fact the best scenery is between Ollaberry and Eshaness in the centre. You get a good view of the high cliffs of Ronas Voe from the minor road on the south side. A look at this could be combined with a trip up Collafirth Hill and to Ollaberry. Going to Ollaberry is pretty hilly too. It would be possible to extend this trip by walking a further two miles to Ronas Hill, the highest point in Shetland.

    If you are heading towards Eshaness a good place to start would be the St Magnus Hotel in Hillswick (at the end of the A970). The Booth Wildlife Sanctuary is near here. Going west along the B9078 you have a number of choices. Apart from the above mentioned camping bod at Hamnavoe there a museum in Tangwick Ha. This is a typical example of a laird's house dating from the 17th century and has been furnished in appropriate style.

    Near the furthest point west of Eshaness there's the site of a Broch and Hole of Scraada. These two things are unconnected and are a little way apart. The hole is a natural feature and the broch is the remains of a fortified tower. The broch here isn't impressive, being mostly destroyed. The most intact broch in Shetland is on Mousa. Quite near too is the lighthouse at South Head.

    Opening Times
    Open All Year
    2014 Opening Times
    1 Jan 2014 - 31 Dec 2014

    Difficulty

    • Hilly

    Environment

    • Rural

    Type of Ride

    • Road Cycling

    Distance

    • Miles 13

    Surface

    • Tarmac

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