Scalloway - Vidlin

If you are cycling through Shetland simply picking the most desireable roads for cycling, you might chose to jump from west to east on this route as you head north.

Distance: 35.5km / 22.1 miles  (Linear route)

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This route follows the signposted Route 1 of the National Cycle Network for 19 miles (30km), with a further 3 mile (5km) spur added from Laxo to Vidlin.

The first 4 miles (6.5km) of the route through Tingwall to Veensgarth junction 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.

Just beyond Veensgarth the route follows the A970 north for almost 6 miles (10km). This section is not the greatest for leisure cycling; the road is quite straight and the traffic can be fast. By taking a small loop diversion via Strand and Laxfirth past the pretty Strand Loch, which will add just 0.5 miles (1km), you can avoid 3 miles (5km) on the fastest section of the main road. This option is recommended; cross the A970 at the Veensgarth junction and follow sign for Strand and Laxfirth. This option does mean a right rurn onto the main A970 road further north.

Leave the fast A970 at the junction just north of the Loch of Girlsta which is Shetland’s largest loch. The single-track B9075 to Nesting is a stark contrast to the section which preceeds it; immediately from the turn-off the landscape and the road become much more pleasant. The B9075 ‘Nesting Loop’ winds through North and South Nesting, an intricate landscape of sheltered inlets and scattered crofts; it is a great cycling road, with constant twists and turns and scenic surprises around many.

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.

At the Skellister junction on the approach to South Nesting Bay, the road passes a prehistoric standing stone high on the hillside above the road. After clinging to the rugged coast of South Nesting Bay the road climbs over the hills to Dury in North Nesting, with some very nice views north to Lunnasting and east to Whalsay. There is a long haul with rolling wild moorland on your left and the waters of Dury Voe on your right to the Junction of the B9071 at Laxo.

Following the B9071 east, just beyond the ferry terminal at Laxo is the Cabin Museum at the Wirlie. This museum is crammed full of mementoes, artefacts, photographs and curios. The small village of Vidlin lies on the sheltered Vidlin Voe lies 1.5 miles (2.5km) beyond. Vidlin has a well stocked shop and is the ferry terminal (with public toilets) for the service to Out Skerries.

‘The Third Way’ - An Alternative Route North.

Since the National Cycle Network route through North Mainland has both east and west coast options, cyclists are invited to make a judgement about which is their preferred option. The more desirable cycling option of the two is a close call as both have beautiful sections on quiet single-track roads. However, the straight section of the A970 north of Tingwall (on the east route) can be busy and carries fast traffic.

It is possible to link the west and east routes through Central Mainland by taking the west route via Wormadale on the A971, then linking to the east route via Weisdale on the B9075 and then a much shorter section on the A970. This option through Weisdale is through one of Shetland’s prettiest valleys and Kergord wood for around 4 miles (6.5km), then south for just over 1 mile(2km) on the fast A970 for linking up with the Nesting loop road around the east. This third option is longer, but combines the best of both signposted routes.

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