Noss NNR - Visiting the reserve

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


For anyone planning to visit Noss between 24 May and 28 May, please read the information from Shetland Island Council regarding planned linkspan works.

For visitors

Our reserve leaflet is a good introduction to the reserve.

Noss ferry

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. The Noss ferry normally runs from the beginning of May to the end of August, except Mondays and Thursdays, and when the sea is too rough. First ferry crossing 10:00, last ferry off the island 17:00.

May- August

Monday               CLOSED/NO FERRY

Tuesday              10am - 5pm

Wednesday         10am - 5pm

Thursday             CLOSED/NO FERRY

Friday                  10am - 5pm

Saturday              10am - 5pm

Sunday                10am - 5pm

September - April - the reserve is CLOSED and there are no ferries.

Ferry fare is £8 return adults, £4 children / students, under 5s free.

There's no booking system for the Noss ferry, you just turn up at quay 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 Noss Ferry Line after 8am on the morning of your visit to make sure the ferry is running.

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.

Visitor centre

There is a small visitor centre open 10am - 5pm daily except Mondays and Thursdays - from May to the end of August


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

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.

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

In summer, 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
Click for a full description

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).

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