Noss NNR - Visiting the reserve

Visit Noss to experience one of the greatest seabird spectacles Scotland has to offer.


For visitors

Our reserve leaflet is a good introduction to the reserve.

Noss ferry

The Noss ferry normally runs between the beginning of May and the end of August, except Mondays and Thursdays, and when the sea is too rough. At the Noss visitor car park there are cycle racks and the boat leaves from the quay at the end of the track below the car park.

There's no booking system for the Noss ferry, you just turn up at Noss Sound and the boat will come for you (the warden keeps a regular lookout during open hours).  A red flag will fly at the house on Noss if the weather is too severe to cross. Check the Information Line after 8 on the morning of your visit to make sure the ferry is running.

Ferry fare is £5 return adults, £3 children / students, under 5s free.

First ferry crossing 10:00, last ferry off the island 17:00.

Please call the Noss Ferry Line on 0800 107 7818 for up-to-date information before you travel to Noss. 

The ferry is a small inflatable boat and staff will provide lifejackets for all passengers. There is a landing area on either side of Noss sound - depending on the tide you may need to take a large step up or down to get from the boat onto the pier. On occasion the boat will land at a different location due to tide or wind direction.

The boat is not suitable for dogs. Wear sensible footwear as rocks can be slippery. Take food, drink and warm and waterproof clothing as the weather can be very changeable.

Avian Influenza - latest news 

Seabird populations including those on Noss were hit hard by Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) last summer. The virus is still circulating widely in wild bird populations across the UK and beyond. This year to prevent the transmission of the virus by visitors’ biosecurity measures will be in place for all visitors to the island. All footwear must be free from mud, and disinfectant footbaths will be provided to disinfect footwear on arrival and departure. We thank our visitors for supporting this action and helping protect our precious seabird populations. 

Visitor centre

The Visitor Centre display is being revamped in 2023. We hope that this will completed in June.


The toilets at the visitor centre are open 10am to 5pm daily – except Mondays and Thursdays –  from May to the end of August.

Rest areas

There are three benches next to the visitor centre on Noss, and seating inside the centre. Although there is no other seating on the reserve, there are plenty of flat grassland areas suitable for resting/sitting.


A walk around the island takes about 4 hours. With a walk to the cliff viewpoint and back taking around 2.5 hours. The path is over moderate ground and can sometimes be very steep. You’ll need sturdy footwear and waterproof clothing. Walking anti-clockwise is easiest and gives you the best views of the seabird cliffs.

Seasonal highlights

Mid-May to mid-July are best for breeding seabirds. Seals, otters, wildflowers and gannets can be seen until the end of August.


Spring sees the arrival of seabirds, including gannets, skuas, puffins, fulmars and kittiwakes. Watch the complex rituals as gannet parents swap incubation duties. You might also find some migrants making a pitstop on their way to breeding grounds further north.


Roseroot, red campion and sea campion are among the many flowers that form a natural rock garden on the sea cliffs. Elsewhere on the cliffs, eggs are hatching and seabirds are feeding their young. If you're lucky you might spot porpoises, dolphins or whales (including Orca).

Getting here

By car

Take the car ferry from Lerwick to the Bressay ferry terminal. Follow the signs to Noss (6 kilometres to Noss Sound). Parking is beside the turning circle at the road end.

By bike

Bikes can be hired in Lerwick. Take the car ferry to Bressay. Follow the signs to Noss (6 kilometres to Noss Sound). There are cycle racks at the Noss visitor car park.


Noss National Nature Reserve
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Hourly car ferry from Lerwick to Bressay (visit and follow Noss signs for three miles to the car park. Local bike hire is available in Lerwick. Then take the NatureScot inflatable boat (small charge) for three minute crossing. The NatureScot boat operates between 10am and 5pm each day in summer (except Mondays and Thursdays).