There's no better way to experience the Shetland outdoors than to join one of our walking holidays: Shetland is a walker's paradise!
We are winners of the Tourism & Environment Thistle Award - the highest accolade in Scottish Tourism - and rated as 'Excellent' by our customers on TripAdvisor.DAY 1 Saturday - Welcome Dinner
Late afternoon / early evening rendezvous at Sumburgh Hotel. After our welcome dinner, maybe stroll along the beautiful beach at West Voe of Sumburgh or explore the ancient settlement of Jarlshof. Overnight at Sumburgh Hotel.DAY 2 Sunday - Sumburgh Head & St Ninian's Isle - 8 miles combined
Our first morning sees us on a circular walk from around the most southerly point of Shetland Mainland. From the heights of Compass Head, we will get breathtaking views of the east coast of Shetland, before heading along the cliff tops above 'The Slithers' to Sumburgh Head, dominated by the impressive lighthouse built by Robert Stevenson in 1821. Sumburgh Head is home to an array of seabirds and we should see plenty of photogenic Puffins! After a picnic lunch, we'll follow the coastal trail back along the shore of West Voe via the archaeological site of Jarlshof, where a series of settlements exist, some dating back to the Neolithic period. In the afternoon we drive to the township of Bigton and head west to one of Shetland's most iconic attractions - St Ninian's Isle. The isle itself is connected to coast of the Mainland by the largest active tombolo in the UK. After crossing this sandy isthmus, we will visit the ruins of the 12th Century chapel which is famous as the site where in 1958 a local schoolboy discovered a hoard of Celtic treasure under a cross-marked slab in the floor whilst helping visiting archaeologists at a dig on the site! On our way around the isle we will take the time to enjoy the sight and sounds of the beautiful seascapes, perhaps with a glimpse of Foula out to the west, Sandness Hill to the north and Fitful Head to the south. The waters around the isle are particularly good for Harbour Porpoise and both Common and Grey Seals. Overnight at Sumburgh Hotel.DAY 3 Monday - Ness of Burgi, Mousa Broch & Banna Minn - 8 miles combined
Our first walk today takes us to the pink Thrift-strewn peninsula of Scatness and onwards to the Iron Age fort of at Ness of Burgi. This lovely short coastal walk will afford us magnificent views of Sumburgh Head to the east and Fitful Head to the west. We then head north to Leebitton and take a ten-minute ferry ride to the island of Mousa. On the way we will keep an eye out for Harbour Porpoise and maybe even a Minke Whale. Upon landing we will then take a circular walk of this delightful island enjoying the beautiful coastal scenery and abundant wildlife. Common and Grey Seals, Red-throated Divers, Arctic Terns, Shetland Wrens, Black Guillemots and lots of wildflowers should all be seen before we reach the magnificent Mousa Broch. Standing at an impressive 13 metres (43ft) Mousa Broch is the best preserved example of an Iron Age (c300 BC to 200 AD) broch, having its walls and internal galleries complete for the most part. We’ll take time to explore inside the broch and may even hear one of its breeding occupants – European Storm Petrels! Our final short walk of the day sees us heading out to Banna Minn - one of Shetland's most beautiful beaches set along the west side of a stunning tombolo that leads out to the Atlantic-facing Kettla Ness peninsula. Overnight at Sumburgh Hotel.DAY 4 Tuesday - Noss National Nature Reserve - 5 miles
We head north and take a 10-minute ferry ride from Lerwick to Bressay. Driving east across the island, we reach Brough and then take a two-minute boat ride to the island of Noss. This spectacular island is a National Nature Reserve and millions of years of wind and ice have honeycombed thousands of nesting ledges in the sandstone cliffs which reach up to 181 metres (592 feet). As a result, many different species can find nest sites of the preferred size and shape and at the peak of the seabird breeding season, the stupendous chorus of around 150,000 birds and chicks on the cliffs is unforgettable. One of many highlights of the day will be viewing the incredible Gannet colony from the highest point at the Noup, along with typically approachable and photogenic Puffins. Our circular walk takes us through a variety of habitats and among a myriad of wildflowers – the coastal turf is ablaze with pink Thrift and blue Spring Squill, the cliffs present a palette of Sea Campion, Scurvy Grass, Red Campion, Birdsfoot Trefoil and Roseroot and the distinctive Sheep's Bit Scabious sets off the brown Heather moorland with its patches of Cotton Grass, Lousewort and orchids. We leave Noss in the late afternoon to connect with our ferry back to Lerwick and head north to the village of Hillswick and the St Magnus Bay Hotel – ‘home’ for the next three nights.DAY 5 Wednesday - North Unst - 8 miles combined
We catch a morning ferry to Unst and spend the day hiking on Hermaness National Nature Reserve. From the old lighthouse shore station at Burrafirth we cross the heather moorland to reach the towering cliffs, which are home to over 100,000 seabirds, including some very approachable Puffins. A true seabird city! We skirt the western flank of Hermaness to reach the northern edge of the reserve. This is as close as one can get on foot to Muckle Flugga lighthouse and the Out Stack - the most northerly point in Britain! Hermaness is also a wonderful place for wild flowers - amidst the tapestry of Heather, Crowberry, Bog Bilberry and Bog Cotton we'll search for the carnivorous Round-leaved Sundew and Butterwort. Our second walk of the day takes us to Keen of Hamar - one of the most remarkable botanical sites in Shetland. Walking on this barren serpentine fell-field has been likened to walking on the Moon but, as we explore this unique habitat, a diverse eco-system appears. The reserve is home to an array of rare wildflowers, including Norwegian Sandwort, Frog Orchid, Early Purple Orchid, Northern Rock Cress, Moonwort and the star of the show - Shetland Mouse-Ear Chickweed (known locally as Edmonston’s Chickweed) - found here but nowhere else in the world! Overnight at St Magnus Bay Hotel.DAY 6 Thursday - Eshaness - 8 miles
The combination of dramatic coastal scenery, unusual natural features and historical sites make this an event-filled day. Our walk begins at Eshaness lighthouse, 200 feet above sea level. We head north along the coast on a springy grassland of plantains and Thrift, among some of the most dramatic scenery Shetland has to offer. The coastline, indented with caves and natural arches, culminates at the Grind of the Navir, a cross between a quarry and an amphitheatre created by the huge seas of violent winter storms. On the return to the lighthouse we will stop to admire the Holes of Scraada, a gaping 132-yard collapsed cave, and explore the Houlland broch set in a shallow tranquil loch and boasting a diameter of 57 feet! Heading south, the sheltered bay and beach of volcanic shingle at Stenness holds good numbers of Grey Seals and offers us uninterrupted views – not only of the iconic Dore Holm – but also of the sweeping panorama across St Magnus Bay to Papa Stour with the high peaks of Foula in the far distance. Overnight at St Magnus Bay Hotel.DAY 7 Friday - Muckle Roe - 7 miles
We spend the day walking on the stunning red granite island of Muckle Roe. Our walk starts from Little-Ayre and then climbs gradually up to the Hill of Tongues. Here we will enjoy spectacular views out across mainland Shetland towards the island of Papa Stour before continuing on our way along the wild west coast of the island, past Picts Ness and on to the West Hill of Ham. There is much that is different from the rest of Shetland on this hike - the moorland is rich in the prostrate northern shrubs of bilberry, bearberry and juniper and the coast is dotted by the pin-cushion flowers of Moss Campion. There is a good chance we will see Red-throated Divers on small lochans and we will also pass by one of Shetland's very few Cormorant colonies. Once over the West Hill of Ham we will descend to the beautiful bay at South Ham for lunch – where we are often joined by inquisitive Grey Seals! If we have time (and energy!), we may hike the extra mile to the spectacular Erne (eagle) Stack on the north coast, unfortunately no longer occupied. From there we will return across the moorland via the deserted crofts of the Hams. In the afternoon drive back to Sumburgh for our well-earned farewell dinner. Overnight at Sumburgh Hotel..DAY 8 Saturday
After breakfast we'll transfer you to Sumburgh airport, or make arrangements for you to travel to your onward destination in Shetland.
2023 Operating Dates
Sat 22nd July - Sat 29th July
Group Size - maximum 8 travellers
This business has confirmed that they have implemented, and will ensure ongoing compliance with, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Safe Travels protocols. The Safe Travels stamp is based on self-assessment and it is not a certification.
From £1795 per adult
May — August
Tour company information
Founded in 1993, we are the No.1 choice for birding, mammal, botanical, photographic and walking holidays in Shetland. Choose from over 40 3-day and 7-day wildlife-filled holidays. Day tours plus bespoke packages also arranged. We are the only award-winning eco-tourism holiday business resident in Shetland and rated as 'Excellent' by our customers on TripAdvisor. Visit us online at www.shetlandwildlife.co.uk
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