District Of The Month: Gulberwick to Cunningsburgh

by Alastair Hamilton -

Each month, we take a look at a different part of Shetland, to see what it has to offer as a place to live. This month, we visit the communities of Gulberwick, Quarff, Fladdabister and Cunningsburgh, which together stretch southwards, for about ten miles, from the outskirts of Lerwick.

These four communities are within very easy reach of Shetland’s capital; from Gulberwick, it’s only a five-minute drive into the town and no part of the area is more than about fifteen minutes away by car. All four – but especially Gulberwick – have seen a considerable amount of housing development in the past twenty to thirty years, which means that there is usually property on the market.

...there is usually property on the market...

Most houses in the district overlook the North Sea, but Quarff also offers the option of a view to the west, as it stretches through a valley that cuts through the Clift Hills. Dramatic sunrises - or, if you’re in Wester Quarff, equally impressive sunsets – are one of the area’s assets.

Gulberwick, Quarff and Fladdabister are set above bays, whilst Cunningsburgh – the largest in area – is mostly spread around a sheltered sea inlet and up into the surrounding hills. The hills to the west, the highest of which rises to almost 300m, are clad with peaty moorland, but the land in the settlements has long been cultivated and Cunningsburgh is noted both for its traditional hay meadows studded with wild flowers and for hosting one of Shetland’s agricultural shows. Fladdabister has wild flowers aplenty, too, and a cluster of older, overgrown ruined buildings at its heart has long inspired artists.

Dramatic sunrises - or, in Wester Quarff, equally impressive sunsets – are one of the area’s assets

There is a primary school in Cunningsburgh, which children from Quarff also attend. Youngsters from Gulberwick go to Sound Primary School in Lerwick. Each community has its own village hall and Cunningsburgh Hall is well known for its summer Sunday afternoon teas. There’s a marina at Cunningsburgh and sailing and fishing – or just messing about in boats – are popular.

Most people in the district commute to Lerwick – or elsewhere in Shetland – for work, but there is some employment locally in farming and inshore fishing. Cunningsburgh’s small industrial estate is home to a business that recycles waste glass into concrete slabs, decorative and construction aggregates and sand used in shot-blasting.

Since Lerwick is so close, people in the district have very easy access to all the services that the town offers: shops, supermarkets, superb sports facilities, a swimming pool, an arts centre featuring two cinemas and much more. However, Cunningsburgh is just a couple of miles north of Sandwick, where there are also local shops, including a bakery, and another swimming pool. Regular bus services mean that getting around without a car isn’t too difficult; and if you’re travelling to or from Shetland by air, Sumburgh Airport is within easy reach, too.

Why choose Gulberwick, Quarff, Fladdabister or Cunningsburgh? Well, in many ways they offer the best of both worlds. You can live in a rural area and be part of a very lively community, yet be just minutes from Lerwick’s wide range of employment and amenities.

...people in the district have very easy access to all the services that the town offers...

Posted in: Community