Sandvoe to Uyea Circular

One of Shetland’s wildest and most challenging walks.

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Difficultly LevelChallenging
Walk Distance15km
Duration7 hours
Height Gain120m
Map DescriptionOS Explorer 469: Shetland - North Roe and Sullom Voe
Start Point Map ReferenceHU 362 909

Directions to Start

The start point of this walk is not accessible by public transport, so we'd recommend travelling there by car.

This is one of Shetland’s wildest and most challenging walks. The outward leg follows a dramatic coastline ascending and descending very steep slopes into and out of glaciated valleys. The return leg is in part along a track through a fabulous moorland landscape. Please note that it not considered safe practice to descend the cliffs and cross the sandbar to the island of Uyea.

The start point for the walk is the west end of the beach at the head of Sand Voe. From here follow the east shoulder of the hill north then west above the shore of Sand Voe. From the north shoulder of the hill there is a steep descent to the beach at the inlet of Roer Mill. Roer Mill beach is the only safe landing place along the ferocious coast between Uyea and Sandvoe. The ruined building is a Haaf fishing böd. Sixareens (open fishing boats) from Uyea brought their fish to Roermill where there was a better beach for drying the fish.

Nearby Sites of Interest

  • This walk is located at the top of the Shetland Mainland, and on your way to or from this walk you might want to stop along the Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary a little further south. A wonderful haven where rescued animals such as seals and otters are cared for. Have a drink and a snack in Da Böd Café too.

From Roer Mill ascend Heoga Neap for spectacular views of both hill and coast, then skirting the cliffs above Raa Wick descend the broad headland of Grut Ness down to the inlets of Wilgi Geos. The rocks in the Sand Voe to Uyea area are 2500 million-year-old gneisses. Mostly granite-like in origin these rocks have experienced numerous upheavals in the Earth's crust or 'mountain building events', that have deformed and metamorphosed the rocks. At Wilgi Geos these rocks have been spectacularly cut by later injections of magma to form the contrasting red and black composite dykes.

From Wilgi Geos ascend and descend Calder’s Head then follow the cliffs west around the north shoulder of North Hill passing the ruined croft of Brevligarth. A track takes you from North Hill down to the ruined crofting toonship of Uyea. In 1851 all 11 houses were occupied but most were derelict by 1906.

Leaving Uyea crofts head north past the cliffs of The Breck then west to the ruins of Uyea Haaf station lodges at North Wick. The sixareens left from Uyea but returned with their catches to Roermill. Follow North Wick around to Uyea Ayre. This is the sand bar (tombolo) across the mouth of Burrier Wick and is covered at the highest tides. Follow the cliffs south around The Ness to get great view of the opposite shore of Uyea.

For the return leg head south-east across the moorland to the Uyea crofts then pick up the metalled track that winds its way south-east across the moorland towards North Roe. This track will take you between Innis Loch and Mill Loch where you may encounter Golden Plover, Red-throated Diver and Arctic Hare. To the south is the red granite (granophyre) scarp of the Beorgs of Uyea where plug of magma forced its way into the metamorphic rocks some 360 million years ago.

Beyond Pettadale Water the track will take you to the Burn of Sandvoe which you cross then leave the track by heading north-east to ascend the Hill of Sandvoe. From here follow the ridge north-east to the small loch near the crofts of Sandvoe where a track will lead you back to the start point.

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Areas

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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