Scalloway - Brae

This route runs along the western section of the National Cycle Network Route 1. With 32.5 miles (52km) to cover and five notable climbs, this is one of the toughest sections of cycling in Shetland.

Distance: 52km / 32.3 miles  (Linear route)

Download Route: • KML File • GPX File

The Route from Scalloway to Vidlin can be used as an alternative on the east side.

The first 4 miles (6.5km) of the route through Tingwall to Veensgarth are pretty gentle and a very pleasant ride through a green valley made fertile by the limestone bedrock. The B9074 runs along the shore of the Loch of Asta with its prehistoric standing stone by the golf course then past the Loch of Tingwall. Nearby is Tingwall Kirk bult in 1798 on the site of a medieval Norse kirk believed to be the ‘mother church’ of Shetland.

At the Veensgarth mini-roundabout take the first left to where the route joins the A971 near the airstrip. There is a long climb to the top of Wormadale, where the reward is some of the most magnificent views in Shetland. From the viewpoint the panaroma takes in the drowned valley of Whiteness Voe and the islands to the south then contrasts the green headland of Whiteness with the heather covered Strom Ness beyond. On a clear day the three peaks of Foula can be see some 25 miles (40km) to the west. Immediately below the viewpoint is the settlement of Nesbister and the destinctive building on the headland is Nesbister Böd, part of Shetland Amenity Trust’s network of camping böds (camping barns).

After a steep descent from Wormadale the road is never far from water; crossing the bridge at the Loch of Strom it passes through the settlements of Haggersta and Kalliness then loops around Weisdale Voe. The second significant long climb of the route ascends the Scord of Sound with stunning views over Kalliness and Weisdale Voe to the rolling green hills topped with heather beyond. From the viewpoint near the top there is another stunning view south across the ‘small isles’ that lie off Scalloway to the high peak of Fitful Head in the far distance.

Tingwall was the site of Shetland’s ancient Norse parliament called the Lawting. Delegates are thought to have met at the Lawting Holm, now a green headland, to make laws and decide the rights and wrongs of cases.

The steep ride down towards Tresta opens up views of the rolling hills of the West Mainland that lies across The Firth. Tresta boasts tall trees, an uncommon sight in Shetland, and the fantastic Lea Gardens, regarded as Shetland’s Kew, is open to the public in the afternoons and is well worth a visit.

At Bixter there is a shop and toilets. From Bixter the route on the B9071 climbs again to give views to the west over Clousta and Aith Voe and the unspoilt wild moorland and hills to the east. The road becomes single-track beyond the settlement of Aith. About 1.5 miles (2.5km) further on the road crosses the Burn of Lunket where a singposted pathfollows the burn to the waterfall and is a gateway to some exhilarating hill-walking across the wonderful views beyond.

The climb from the Burn of Lunklet over West Hill of Burrafirth is a little bigger than those already passed and then the final climb from Gonfirth over Fielnadringa is bigger still. At 439 feet (134m) this is the highest point on the Cycle Shetland touring network. This long climb is compnsated for by some of the best wild upland scenery in Shetland.

It is a beautiful descent from the Loch of Gonfirth to the village of Lower Voe, nestled in its sheltered location at the head of Olna Firth where there is a bar and restaurant for the weary traveller. This is also the location of the Sail Loft which is one of Shetland Amenity Trust’s Camping Böds (camping barns).

From just above Lower Voe the A970 leading west to Brae is joined at the Loch of Voe. This road connects Brae and Sullom Voe Oil terminal with Lerwick so can often be busy with oil industry traffic, especially in the early morning or late afternoon when shifts change.

The activity of the oil industry, which has contributed to the shaping of modern Shetland, is well hidden so the district is still unspoiled with many amazing vistas.

The road from Voe to the larger and more modern village of Brae follows the shore of Olna Firth and Busta Voe for almost 6 miles (10km) passing Shetland’s newer industries of mussel and salmon farms. As well as public toilets, a garage and shop, a supermarket and a post office, cafes and fish and chip-shop, Brae also has a leisure centre and swimming pool.

The scene from the main road viewpoint looking down on Lower Voe is one of Shetland’s ‘classic’ views and the interpretation panel tells local history and the village connection with Mount Everest.

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