Fladdabister Circular

Fladdabister is an unusual Shetland settlement, with some fascinating ruins with Dutch influenced building styles among the older crofthouses. The best walking route starts at the farm gate a short way into the northern access to Fladdabister from the main road junction.

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Difficultly LevelModerate To Challenging
Walk Distance7km
Duration3 hours 30 minutes
Height Gain50m
Map DescriptionOS Explorer 466: Shetland - Mainland South
Start Point Map ReferenceHU 432 329

Directions to Start

A regular bus service runs in the South Mainland, between Sumburgh and Lerwick. The timetable can be found here.

Fladdabister is an unusual Shetland settlement, with some fascinating ruins with Dutch influenced building styles among the older crofthouses. The best walking route starts at the farm gate a short way into the northern access to Fladdabister from the main road junction.

Take the track to the left and follow it to the south side of the Loch of Fladdabister. There are some very interesting remains of planticrubs (plant shelters) and earlier structures along the burn and at points around the loch. Head north by the east side of the loch to a walled enclosure at Douri, once the site of an old kirk. Little remains of this, but it is interesting to speculate on what it might have looked like in its heyday.

From here head south towards the burn and begin to follow the Mill Burn downstream. There are a remarkable number of mills along the stream, in various stages of ruin. The last one was in use in the 1930s and the mills' lades and many of the millstones are still in evidence. These mills would have been noisy, busy places in their day, when water from the dammed loch was released to start all the grinding.

Nearby Sites of Interest

  • Take a minute to see what else is on offer whilst you’re in the South Mainland.
  • Taking the main road a little further south, you’ll pass through the village of Cunningsburgh. The Catpund Burn can be found here, and if you’re still on your feet, have a wander up to explore the remnants of a Viking quarry.
This was a great hike (but you need walking boots). You must make it to Coall Head as the views are wonderful.

Coall Head, just to the north, is worth climbing up to for the views north and south and for the magnificent breccia cliff scenery nearby. Carry on down towards the cliffs, but as you turn south, keep well away from the steep and often overhanging edges. Canoeists love this stretch of coast, which is full of sea caves and dramatic clefts. Look out for seabirds of all kinds among the cliffs and the sheer faces are ablaze with wild flowers in spring and summer.

Follow the coastline along towards the village. At Brenya you will find a tight cluster of some of the oldest buildings, sadly neglected for the most part, but there are many restored and modernised traditional houses still to appreciate. There are gardens too and tiny plots of land with vegetables and the special Shetland Kale, a variety of rather coarse, huge cabbage which is still to be found in Shetland.

​Follow the road downhill until it levels off and seek the path down through the meadows here to the sea. At one time there would have been a constant flow of folk down this lush sloping meadow, on their way either to the boats, or to the lime kiln. The Burn of the Scord runs down to the sea here, cutting a deep gorge through the rock. This can be a real haven for unusual wild flowers, ferns and shrubs and sheltering migrant birds.

​Spend a while on the beach at the Bay of Fladdabister, where red and white calcite pebbles feature among the shingle. Limestone was crushed and burnt to make lime in the old kilns which stand on the bluff just above the beach and are well worth examining.

Make your way back to the road and through the village to where you began your walk.

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Difficulty Level

  • Easy Walks: under 4 kilometers, usually suitable for majority abilities.
  • Moderate Walks: under 8 kilometers, usually suitable for most abilities. Walks surface may be loose, uneven and muddy. Sensible footwear required.
  • Longer Walks: over 8 kilometers, usually suitable for those with a good standard of fitness. Walks surface likely to be more challenging, loose, uneven and muddy. Stout waterproof footwear with ankle support required.
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