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Edmondston's Chickweed, Unst, Shetland ©Lorne Gill/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or

Keen of Hamar Nature Reserve

It may look like a barren moonscape, but Keen of Hamar’s bare, stony scree supports a unique collection of plants.

This unusual geological reserve is home to special interest plants that have adapted to survive on the rare serpentine rock found on Unst, Shetland.

Edmondston’s chickweed – which is unique to Britain’s most northerly island – is the star attraction. Several more common plants show peculiar serpentine growth forms.

Keen of Hamar is protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation.

Scottish Natural Heritage owns and manages the reserve.  This leaflet is a good introduction to the reserve.

Best time to visit

Mid-May to early July, for the wild flowers.


Small car park and easy walking ground.


Keen of Hamar Nature Reserve
National Grid reference: HP 645 098

Getting there

Keen of Hamar lies off the A968, just beyond the village of Baltasound. It is signposted from this road. The reserve is a 200m walk from the car park.

A daily bus service runs between Lerwick and Baltasound. Making the return journey on the same day would only allow for a very rushed visit, however.


Scottish Natural Heritage
Stewart Building
Alexandra Wharf

Telephone: 01595 693 345

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