Brae - Hillswick

This route follows the A970 north-west from Brae into Northmavine; once described as “the largest, wildest and most beautiful parish in Shetland”, a description which still fits the area well.

Distance: 17.5km / 10.9 miles  (Linear route)

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Northmavine is part of the Mainland, but only just! Just beyond Brae is Mavis Grind, where a narrow isthmus joins Northmavine to the rest of Mainland. The narrow neck of land that separates the North Sea from the Atlantic here is just 90 yards (80m) wide and you could indulge in one of the shortest coast to coast walks anywhere. An interpretive geology wall built by Geopark Shetland describes the spectacularly diverse geology of the area and a panel tells of some of the history of the area.

Travelling north on the A970 through amazing road cuttings that contrast grey gabbro rock with bright red granite there are wonderful views over Mangaster Voe. Generally all along the route the glacially moulded landscape meeting the fierce Atlantic coastline makes for scenic cycling. If you are in no hurry on this short route, we recommend a 2 mile (3.5km) diversion along the single-track side-road to Gunnister and Nibon; a beautiful ride on a rollercoaster road with wonderful views of Gunnister Voe and the Isle of Nibon.

If you are in no hurry we recommend a 2 mile diversion along the single-track side-road to Gunnister and Nibon; a beautiful ride on a rollercoaster road with wonderful views of Gunnister Voe and the Isle of Nibon.
There are wonderful views down the west coast of Shetland to Muckle Roe on arrival into Hillswick.

There are many lochs of all sizes along the route; some are frequented by red-throated divers and whooper swans in the breeding season, Punds Water is one of the largest and favoured by fly fishermen. North of this loch the road rises to give sight of the great dark red granite ‘whale-back’ of Ronas Hill; at 450m this is Shetland’s highest summit.

As the road climbs the lower slopes of the Hill of Orbister there are great views over Hamar Voe. After a steep drop going into Urafirth, the road follows the shore of Ura Firth to Hillswick. There are wonderful views down the west coast of Shetland to Muckle Roe on arrival into Hillswick, which makes the natural hub for exploring Eshaness and North Roe.

Local amenities in Hillswick:

  • Public toilets
  • A local shop
  • Craft shops
  • Hotel and bar

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