Vidlin - Mid Yell

This route connects the north east of the Mainland with Yell to the north, a journey split by the ferry jouney across Yell Sound from Toft to Ulsta.

Distance: 46.5km / 28.9 miles  (Linear route)

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This route connects the north east of the Mainland with Yell to the north, a journey split by the ferry jouney across Yell Sound from Toft to Ulsta.

After the 1 mile (1.5km) of single-track from Vidlin there is a straight and fairly level run of 4 miles (6.5km) of wide road past Laxo and the Whalsay ferry terminal. 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 still has many unspoiled and beautiful places. The scene from the main road view point 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.

Just beyond the view point route 1 of the National Cycle Network splits again with both east and west routes around the north of Mainland. Our route takes the A968 to the north-east to the head of Dales Voe. The long 4 mile (6.5km) climb up the north-west shore of the old glacial valley of Dales Voe affords terrific views across to the steep sided Gardaness Hill on the other side. On reaching the top of hill at Swinister stop and take in the magnificent views across small islands to Lunna Ness and beyond. Just below you can marvel at the triple tombolos with their lagoons that join Fora Ness to Mainland.

On reaching the top of hill at Swinister stop and take in the magnificent views across small islands to Lunna Ness and beyond. Just below you can marvel at the triple tombolos with their lagoons that join Fora Ness to Mainland.

The road quickly descends again to the road junction at the head of Firths Voe where it meets the western section of route 1. Fiths Voe is the landfall of two North Sea oil pipelines and the exit point for a gas pipeline to the Scottish Mainland. From here there is a shorter uphill climb around a steep and sharp bend then a slow descent to the ferry terminal at Toft. The ferry journey takes 15 minutes, although the frequency of the service varies from between 25 minutes at peak times to 80 minutes at off peak times. All of Shetland’s inter-island ferry timetables can be found here.

Arriving in Ulsta on Yell the road splits just beyond the shop giving you a choice between east and west coast routes. The west coast route on the A968 is on the main road and more direct. We recommend the single-track B9081 to the east, following the signs to Burravoe then onward to Mid Yell. This route is approximately 3 miles (5km) longer but is a more leisurely ride, as the twists and turns of the narrow roads make for more interesyting cycling than than the wider and straighter A968. You might want to chose the the alternative west coast route on the return journey. The day ride around South Yell includes more details of the west coast route .

The local Museum and Exhibition Centre at Burravoe is housed in the Old Haa which dates from 1672 and includes a tearoom, gallery and craft shop. It houses a permanent display of material depicting the history of Yell and you can relax in its garden and admire a series of stone figures built in the style of Inuit 'inuksuit’ inspired by Geopark Shetland.

To the north of Burravoe the road climbs to give great all-round views from Lunna Ness in the south to the high cliffs of Fetlar in the north and west across the wild moorland and small lochs that covers much of Yell. The opportunity to explore the side roads is another good reason to take this route. The beautiful sandy beach at Gossabrough is almost a 1mile (1.5km) diversion off the road north and offers views over to Fetlar. A similar distance off-route will take you to a path leading to the shore at Otterswick. Here you can see the figurehead known as the White Wife (or Widden Wife) which came from the Bohus, a German training ship which was wrecked on the Ness of Queyon in 1924.

From Otterswick take the loop that passes North and South Aywick to Mid Yell. This final section is possibly the highlight of the day. The climb on the Hill of Vatsie offers truly spectacular views over the nearby Loch of Vatsetter and the more distant Fetlar, Hascosay and Unst.

Mid Yell is the biggest settlement on the island, amenities include:

  • Public toilets
  • Shop and post office
  • Bar and restaurant
  • Leisure centre and swimming pool.

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