Unst – The Nature of The Top of Britain
- Keen of Hamar
- Viking Unst Project
- Bobby’s Bus Shelter
- Heritage Center/Boat Haven (if time allows)
Often referred to locally as ‘the island above all others’, Unst is indeed geographically certainly that. As the most notherly island in Britain this really is a must see for visitors looking to explore islands and break away from Shetland’s Mainland. Whether your interest is natural heritage, history, geology or archaeology, this island really does have it all. The islands outstanding natural heritage is our main focus of the day however along the way we shall make stops at such iconic visitor attractions as The Viking Unst Project and the quirky ‘Bobby’s Bus Shelter’ along the way.
We begin the day with Hermaness National Nature Reserve. We begin our North Isles experience by savoring the rich flora and fauna of Unst and head out onto 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 in large numbers on the moorland interior. Reaching the spectacular cliffs on the west side of the reserve, we will be greeted by perhaps the most captivating and charismatic birds of the trip, some of the 25,000 pairs of Puffins which make Hermaness their summer home. Breathtaking views of Muckle Flugga and the most northerly lighthouse in Britain are a further distraction, whilst the surrounding stacks and cliffs boast well over 20,000 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 song-flight displays of Meadow Pipits and the ubiquitous Skylarks.
Later in the day we visit the Keen of Hamar National Nature Reserve, one of the UK’s most remarkable botanical sites, where the moon-like landscape of serpentine rock, collection of Arctic Alpines and an endemic plant, Edmonston’s Chickweed (found nowhere else in the world), make this a firm favourite. We shall also take time search for species such as Frog Orchid, Moonwort, Norwegian Sandwort and Northern Rock Cress and others.
We will also take time to explore Skaw and Lamba Ness, the former boasting a beautiful secluded beach with the backdrop of Britain’s most northerly house. Lamba Ness is the most easterly point of Unst and if the weather conditions allow we may spend time on a cetacean watch. If tides are right and with a bit of luck, we may even spot an otter along the way.