Fetlar – the Garden of Shetland

Fetlar is known locally as ‘the garden of Shetland’. Its diversity of habitats with rich fertile soils, serpentine heath and blanket bog, hosts the highest densities of breeding waders in Shetland. It is an island with a fascinating and diverse ornithological history. It was here that in 1967 Britain’s first Snowy Owls were discovered breeding by the legendary Shetland naturalist, the late Bobby Tulloch.

Even before this momentous discovery Fetlar was already a popular destination birdwatchers and naturalists from far and wide, for the island’s Red-necked Phalaropes. For recent generations the island has been well known as the UK stronghold for this charismatic species. It was in fact the only breeding site for this normally Arctic breeding wader for many decades.

Famed for their role reversal in the rearing of chicks and plumage, the phalaropes are one of the UK’s rarest breeding birds and with patience, luck and our local knowledge we hope to see these charismatic little waders.

Although phalaropes are now also being seen elsewhere, (Fetlar still being the British stronghold), and the owls long died off the island’s reputation and amazing wildlife is still attracting even more visitors several decades on.

The island’s rich and diverse habitats are also a stronghold for nationally rare and scarce breeding species such as Whimbrel, Red-throated diver, Arctic Skua as well as popular summer species such as Golden Plover and Dunlin.

As well as a picnic lunch at the beautiful Tresta beach we will enjoy a short leisurely stroll along low headland of the eastern side of the island to see the rare rock type, known as the Funzie conglomerate, which is unique to the island and can be seen exposed the way along eastern cliffs. From here we will also scan the open sea and with a bit of luck catch a glimpse of a Porpoise or Minke whale, which are often seen off shore. There is also the chance of an Otter encounter too along some of the island’s more remote stretches of shoreline.

Along the way we will also learn of Fetlar’s fascinating history by calling in to the Fetlar Interpretive Centre.

2023 Prices and Booking

Small group tour

To give our guests the best experience our small group tours are limited to a maximum of eight people.

Tour Cost: £175 per person

For families with children please contact us directly for a quote. Please note the tour can only run with a minimum of two people. If you are travelling solo and we are unable to match you with a group, we will offer you a tour at the two person cost equivalent, or a full refund.

Private Tour

Exclusive booking is a very popular option for our day tours. A private tour can be arranged for the following tariffs:

  • One to two people: £450
  • Three people: £625
  • Four people: £800
  • For groups of 5 or more please contact us directly for a quote.

Advance booking for our tours is essential.

Start point: This tour starts on Fetlar. We regret that we are not at present able to offer pick-ups from accommodation on Mainland ahead of a Fetlar tour. Guides will arrange to meet you either at Gutcher ferry terminal on Yell, or Hamars Ness ferry terminal on Fetlar. If you are staying on Mainland and unable to travel to Fetlar please contact us as alternative options may be available on some dates.

Duration: Usually around 6-7 hours, with a start time between 09:00 and 09.30, but can be fitted around your ferry times.

Refreshments: A light snack will be available as a courtesy (dependent on current COVID regulations). A grab and go is our default option for lunch. Most guests want to maximise their time with us and see as much as they can see, so we can make a stop for you to pick up something on route, or you may wish to bring a packed lunch.

Contact us to Book »