Sandwick - Sandsayre, Cunningsburgh and Fladdabister

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.

Distance: 30km / 18.6 miles  (Circular route)

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Sandsayre pier below Leebotten is the departure point for the 15 minute tourist ferry crossing to Mousa. By the pier there is a visitor centre and waiting room with a display on the history and natural history of the area. Mousa is home to the best preserved Iron Age broch and is a RSPB nature reserve. The ferry operates April to September from Sandsayre pier (occasionally from Cunningsburgh) and is run by The Mousa Boat who, as well as day trips, offer twice-weekly, late evening trips to see the nocturnal storm petrels returning to their nest sites in the broch. There are no roads or facilities on this uninhabited island but there is a waymarked trail around the reserve past the seal haul-out pools to the broch. Details from the walk section of the website: Mousa Circular

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. About 0.5 miles (1km) along this road there is a short loop of the old road around to the left that will take you to a disused quarry track leading up the hillside. The quarry track is cut into the buff-coloured bedrock which is composed mainly of the soft white mineral talc and the more exotic green-blue and much harder serpentinite. You can walk up this track then across the hillside to the Catpund Viking site where the rock, known as kleber in Shetland, was quarried by the our Norse ancestors to make a whole range of objects including cooking pots, loom weights, lamps and fishing sinkers. Fine examples of these are on display in the Shetland Museum and Archives in Lerwick.

A little further on past the Mail beach at Cunningsburgh take the side road through Voxter that meanders through fields and meadows and along the west coast of Aith Voe. 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. Turning left onto the busy A970 there is a 4.5 miles (7km) run back to the Sandwick junction.

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