Sandwick - Lerwick

This route links the south of Mainland with Shetland’s capital Lerwick. You may find it rewarding to explore the network of single-track roads that join the communities of Hoswick, Sandwick and Leebotten.

Distance: 23km / 14.3 miles  (Linear route)

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This route links the south of Mainland with Shetland’s capital Lerwick. You may find it rewarding to explore the network of single-track roads that join the communities of Hoswick, Sandwick and Leebotten. Hoswick has a visitor centre with a cafe and museum as well as knitwear and craft shops. Sandsayre pier below Leebotten is the departure point for the tourist ferry to Mousa. Mousa is home to the best preserved Iron Age broch still standing and is a RSPB nature reserve.

From Sandsayre there is a very steep climb of 0.5 miles (0.75km) and about the same distance again for the right turn onto the busy A970 towards Cunningsburgh which is about 1 mile (2km) north.

From Cunningsburgh the remainder of the route to Lerwick can be split into two distinct sections; the first section largely follows the minor roads through the local communities of Voxter, Aithsetter and Fladdabister and this makes for great cycling on beautifully surfaced single-track roads which twist and turn repeatedly. The second section continues along the busy A970 through the main part of Cunningsburgh and on to Lerwick, although this will help you to make quicker progress it is not quite such a pleasant road for cycling.

The road through Voxter meanders through fields and meadows and along the west coast of Aith Voe then you can join the long loop east to Aith Wick that will take you on a climb through Aithsetter to the Fladdabister Junction. The single-track loop road through Fladdabister will take you past the once cultivated fields and ruined buildings of the old crofting township. If you like to take a break then a short walking trail takes you down near the shore and the old lime-kilns perched on a grassy knoll with a great view over the bay. There is a short but steep climb around the bend in the road above the crofting township back to the A970.

After Fladdabister the route joins the main road for the remaining 7 miles (11km) to Lerwick. There is a steep descent into and climb out of Quarff but you could take a breather by Henry’s Loch or Brindister Loch where Shetland ponies are often seen grazing.

The National Cycle Network splits in two at a major junction 3 miles (5km) before reaching Lerwick so you can either follow this route into Lerwick, or take the western alternative towards Scalloway.

On the section just south of Lerwick there is an option to divert off the main road into Gulberwick; this is marginally shorter, but there is a very steep section up from the bay. Gulberwick is a mostly modern community with some striking contemporary houses looking out over the bay.

In Lerwick, the signposted cycle route goes through the town, but not the main street where there are shops and the Tourist Information Centre. The Shetland Museum and Archives at Hay’s Dock is a very short diversion from the signposted route and is also a natural stopping point for any visitor.

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