The return walk direct to Hermaness takes about 3 hours but can be extended south-west along the coast to Saito by ascending Neap; you should allow at least an other hour for this. The Lighthouse Shore Station at Burra Firth, near the start of the walk, now hosts a small natural history exhibition and is the HQ for the Reserve warden in the summer. Toilets are also situated in the building.
The start point for the walk is car park for Hermaness National Nature Reserve. There is a notice board here giving information on the Reserve and visitors book in the metal box by the entrance gate. Pass through the gates and follow the made up track north to Winnaswarta Dale where the first of a series of marker posts start you off on the long ascent of Hermaness Hill. Keep to the route indicated by these posts and use the boardwalks to cross boggy ground.
The blanket bog records over 7,000 years of vegetation history at Hermaness. Sothers Brecks and Hermaness Hill are the home of Red-throated Diver, Snipe, Dunlin, Golden Plover and Arctic Skua. In summer Shetland’s annual ‘pirate’ visitor, the Bonxie (Great Skua), favours this reserve with over 600 pairs breeding here annually. Bonxies breed from May to August before migrating south in the winter some perhaps as far as West Africa.
Beside the route, about half way up Hermaness Hill, notice the shape of a cross laid out in stones. This marks the site where two young walkers lost their lives in the most severe storm ever recorded in the British Isles on New Year’s Eve 1991. On the top of Hermaness Hill you will see the site of the old signal station for Muckle Flugga Lighthouse.