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Hermaness NNR - Visiting the reserve

Visit Hermaness for breathtaking cliff-top views and birdlife that overwhelms the senses.

 

 

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Getting here

Hermaness is at the most northerly tip of Unst on Shetland. From the Shetland mainland there are two ferry crossings to reach Unst.

By car

From Lerwick, follow the A970 north to Voe. Turn onto the A968 to Toft for the ferry to Yell (20-minute sea crossing). Continue on the A968 to board the ferry to Unst (10-minute sea crossing). Head 16 kilometres north through Baltasound. Just before Haroldswick, turn onto the B9086 road signposted to Burrafirth and Hermaness. At the fork in the road, either go straight on to the reserve.

ZE2 9EQ is the nearest postcode.

By public transport

There is a bus service from Lerwick to Baltasound, 9 kilometres from the reserve. However, it’s not possible to get back to Lerwick the same day using public transport. You’ll need to stay overnight on Unst.

Map

Hermaness National Nature Reserve

Eight miles from Baltasound, the B9086 leads to car park.

For visitors

Visit Hermaness is a good introduction to the reserve.

Toilets

There are toilets at the shore station.

Trails for all

Start the walk to the cliffs in the reserve car park, where there is a notice board and leaflets in a metal box. From the car park, follow the gravel path north to Winnaswarta Dale. From here a boardwalk takes you across the reserve to the western cliffs. Please keep to the boardwalk to avoid damaging the fragile blanket bog vegetation.

You can take a moderate walk to the cliffs (4.6 kilometres), which takes about 2 hours there and back. Exploring the coast from there (to the south-west and to the northern tip, overlooking Muckle Flugga) will extend your walk to a round trip of 12 kilometres.  Allow 4 to 5 hours for this.

Find a description of the whole route on the Shetland website.

Seasonal highlights

Mid-May to Mid-July is the best time to visit.

Spring

Most of the seabirds arrive in late April. Visit in spring and you’ll see fulmars, gulls, shags and gannets as well as puffins and kittiwakes. Spring squill makes the coastal grassland a carpet of blue in May. The moor is a living tapestry of heather, crowberry, bog bilberry, mosses and grasses.

Summer

Crossing the moorland of Hermaness you’ll be greeted by great skuas – called ‘bonxies’ by the locals. They are notorious for dive-bombing anyone who steps too close to their nests. The blue of spring squill turns to a deep pink as the sea pinks (thrift) come into bloom in summer.

Autumn

Many of the seabirds will have gone by autumn, but you will still see gannets – known as ‘solan geese’ in Shetland. The gannets breed here until September. You can also see grey seals on the rocky shores, and the moorland is tinged red with autumn colours.

Winter

Come to Hermaness in winter to experience a windswept and invigorating environment. This is extreme weather at the edge of the world!