Shetland Spring Experience Long Weekend
Holiday details at a glance:
- Five nights all inclusive – four days of wildlife
- Maximum of eight per group
- Led by local naturalist guides who live and work in Shetland all year round
- Dedicated Otter-tracking time
- Late-night excursion for Storm Petrels
- Boat trip to a world-renowned seabird colony
- Arguably the finest hospitality and local cuisine
- Scheduled to coincide with the Spring Bank Holiday
- Friday 22nd May to Wednesday 27th May, 2020
This enthralling and adventurous long weekend has been specially timed for Spring Bank Holiday Weekend and is ideally suited for visitors wishing to indulge themselves in the best that Shetland has to offer over a compact short break. Island-hopping throughout Shetland we will seek out the best of the island’s star attractions; iconic vistas throughout its unspoilt landscape; spectacular displays of wild flowers; awe-inspiring ‘seabird cities’; some of the nation’s rarest breeding birds and of course time dedicated to searching for Otters!
The tour begins when we meet and great at the Sumburgh Hotel on the evening of Friday the 27th May at 1800hrs. Over dinner we enthuse about our wildlife watching adventure, the places we will visit, the species we hope to see and life in general in the Shetland Islands.
We begin our voyage of discovery at the southernmost tip of Shetland at the RSPB’s iconic Sumburgh Head reserve with its thousands of breeding seabirds: Fulmars, Guillemots, Razorbills, Kittiwakes, Skuas, Shags and of course our first Puffins! Sumburgh is the ideal setting in which to start to get to know Shetland’s breeding birds, with everything close at hand.
For the afternoon we shall explore South Mainland Shetland’s beautiful scenery such as Loch of Spiggie (an RSPB reserve) and the stunning St Ninian’s Isle, joined to the mainland by a world-famous sand beach tombolo, whilst all the time tuning in and adapting to the wonderful Shetland environment.
Late in the evening comes one of the highlights of the trip, with a quite magical excursion to the tiny island of Mousa, an RSPB reserve which lies to the east of south mainland. Here during the twilight of the late evening/early morning, thousands of dainty Storm Petrels, our smallest breeding seabird, return to their nest-sites in the walls of the Pictish broch – the best-preserved and most impressive of all of Shetland’s many brochs. Watching the petrels fluttering like bats against the summer night sky is a simply unforgettable birding experience!
In the morning we shall travel to Shetlands capital town of Lerwick where we shall board MV Ruby May for an unforgettable three-hour trip. We are bound for the spectacular Noss National Nature Reserve to marvel at its breathtaking cliffs, which are alive with the hustle and bustle of one of the largest seabird colonies in the islands. The crew will also give us a truly unique insight into life beneath the waves as they explore the depths with their underwater camera.
In the afternoon we continue or voyage of discovery north to Britain’s most northerly island where we are based for two nights.
On Unst we begin our North Isles experience by heading to Hermaness National Nature Reserve. Setting out on foot through the heart of the reserve, we can guarantee ‘up close and personal’ encounters with Great Skuas, known locally as Bonxies, which nest commonly on the moorland interior.
Reaching the spectacular cliffs on the west side, we shall be greeted by perhaps the most captivating and charismatic birds of the trip, some of the 25,000 Puffins which make Hermaness their summer home. Breathtaking views of Muckle Flugga and the most northerly lighthouse in Britain are a further distraction, not least as the surrounding stacks and cliffs boast over 17,000 breeding pairs of Gannets, the largest colony in Shetland. As well as seabirds, we shall be serenaded by other moorland species during our walk, from bubbling Curlews and cryptic Golden Plovers to the parachuting and song-flighting displays of Meadow Pipits and Skylarks.
Later in the day we shall visit the Keen of Hamar National Nature Reserve, one of Unst’s most remarkable wildlife-watching sites, where the moon-like landscape and collection of Arctic Alpine and endemic plants, most notably Edmonston’s Chickweed (found nowhere else in the world) is a firm favourite with visitors.
Island-hopping once again, this time just a 25-minute ferry crossing to the neighbouring island of Fetlar, home to one of our rarest breeding birds and the Fetlar speciality: the Red-necked Phalarope. These compelling creatures are elegant and dainty, with complex breeding roles and unusual feeding behaviour. Fetlar supports over 90% of the British population of this stunning Arctic wader, although in recent years they have become increasingly more elusive. With patience, persistence and our local knowledge we hope to connect with this charismatic and nationally very rare breeding wader.
The island is also home to some of the highest densities of moorland breeding birds anywhere in Britain, with nationally important numbers of Whimbrel and the wonderfully evocative Red-throated Diver. Good numbers of Arctic Skuas, Golden Plovers and Dunlins are among the many species which abound on the isle. With this rich density of breeding birds and its fertile soils one can easily see how the island gets its name of the ‘Garden of Shetland’.
Late in the afternoon we continue south back down to Sumburgh Hotel to check in for the last evening of our wildlife experience. Along the way we enjoy a leisurely safari style journey down through the Shetland Mainland where we savour the beautiful unspoilt Shetland landscapes one last time and keep a sharp eye for what wildlife we may see such as Harbour Porpoise from the ferry, a Mountain Hare blending into the moorland or maybe even our last glimpse of an otter!
Your holiday comes to an end after breakfast when we can arrange transfers for departure or an extended stay.
What about Otters?
Don’t worry we have every confidence we will find them; we have yet to have a group leave disappointed. They are after all a speciality of ours and we aim to dedicate time to Otter tracking throughout your stay. We know the best time and places to see this complex and elusive species and, because we live here, our guides have the advantage of studying them all year round.
This is one of the many areas that our clients experience first-hand the benefits of our small group sizes. Our ethos is based on the unsurpassed knowledge of Shetland Nature guides, combined with access to remote and little-known spots. We will visit some of the best sites in the islands to give you a unique insight into the secret lives of one of the nation’s most evocative and captivating animals.
However it is appropriate to note that sightings of wild animals can never be guaranteed.
Throughout the long weekend, your guide will be fully in touch with the local grapevine and news of what is turning up throughout the islands. Circumstance such as weather conditions, tides and receiving news of Killer Whale sightings can understandably all have an effect on the itinerary so we remain as flexible as possible to maximise our chances of enjoying Shetland’s stunning wildlife to the full. We will, however, ensure that the following key sites are targeted; your local guides are experts in when is the best time to do this.
- Eshaness Peninsular
- Hermaness National Nature Reserve
- Keen of Hamar National Nature Reserve
- Mousa RSPB reserve
- Noss National Nature Reserve
- Sumburgh Head RSPB Reserve
Throughout this holiday some of the activities will potentially involve walks of up to three or four miles (maximum in a day) and at times over uneven terrain. These will require a reasonable level of fitness. We can also provide holidays at a more leisurely pace; please Contact Us for details.
Booking – Holiday Dates
|Friday 22nd May to Wednesday 27th May, 2020||Available|
Tour commences on evening of first date at 1800hrs in reception of Sumburgh Hotel. Tour ends on morning of 31st May after breakfast.
Private Tour Options: This holiday can also be arranged exclusively for private booing for couples, families or small groups.
Additional holiday information:
- Read about the hotels we use – view our hotel providers.
- All meals, accommodation, guiding fee’s and excursions as well as ferry fares and transport are included in package cost.
- All boat trips are subject to weather availability.
- Not included in cost are items of a personal nature or hotel bar tabs nor is travel to and from Shetland included.
- No single supplement charged.
- On booking please advise of any special requirements medical or dietary.
- Throughout the holiday some of the activities will potentially involve walks of up to three or four miles (maximum in a day) and at times over uneven terrain. A reasonable level of fitness is advised however this is run at a leisurely pace. We can also provide holidays at an even more leisurely pace; please contact us for details.