Hermaness NNR - Visiting the reserve

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

Welcome

Welcome to Hermaness National Nature Reserve a spectacular wildlife reserve at the most northerly tip of the island of Unst on Shetland. It is a place of global importance for wildlife; with its towering cliffs and extensive moorland, the headland is home to a rich variety of birds and plants.

Facilities

Our Hermaness NNR leaflet is a good introduction to the reserve.

Toilets

There are toilets at the car park, which are open daily from 1 May to 30 September. (Not suitable for disposal of campervan waste)

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 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.

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. 

ZE2 9EQ is the nearest postcode.

Map

Hermaness National Nature Reserve

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

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!

Trails

Take the Saito trail to visit the spectacular western cliffs, alive with the sounds and smells of nesting birds in the breeding season but equally amazing when the Atlantic swell crashes against them. Follow the Muckle Flugga trail for a longer walk north along the cliffs with great views across to the lighthouse and returning over Hermaness Hill. 

To help us manage this National Nature Reserve:

  • Keep dogs on a lead to avoid disturbing nesting birds and livestock. 
  • Keep to the paths to avoid disturbing birds and damaging the fragile peatland.
  • Please take care along the cliff edge and steep sea-facing slopes.
  • Follow requests on any notices you see.

Saito Trail

Follow the path through the wild moorland interior to the spectacular cliffs on the west coast. Head south along the coast for breathtaking views of the thronging gannet colony.

Muckle Flugga Trail

A circular route across wild moorland, along cliff tops and over Hermaness Hill. Enjoy breathtaking scenery, views to Muckle Flugga and pass the remains of the old signal station.