Walking Shetland - Old & New Books
by Tom Morton -
There are various Shetland walking guides available, including what I’ve always considered The One Guide To Rule Them All, written by Peter Guy - Squadron Leader Peter Guy, - former RAF Saxa Vord Commanding Officer and once communications chief for BP at the Sullom Voe Oil Terminal.
Walking The Coastline of Shetland comes in seven volumes, and was a real labour of love and worn footwear for Peter. It is invaluable in many ways: it’s extremely readable, has great photographs by the author, brilliant historical insights and is, due to its multi-volume publications, incredibly detailed. Because Peter lived here for decades and was a real lover of Shetland in all its aspects, there is a passion and intimacy about each book - particularly the walks on his ‘home ground' of Unst and Yell. The books offer short and day-long walks as well as the ultimate round-Shetland route.
But, and it’s a major but, they’re out of print and have become both collectable and expensive second hand.
The best place to start if you’re interested in walking in Shetland - either major treks or minor jaunts - is our own shetland.org website. Go to https://www.shetland.org/things/outdoor/walking for an introduction to what you’ll need, where to go, the fantastic Core Paths project from Shetland Islands Council, the strange business of bagging Marilyns, and a handy ‘Find a Walk’ search feature..
There is also a list of operators who will provide full guided walking holidays. However, for those keen to find a one-volume handbook to walking in Shetland, there are various available: Mary Welsh and Christine Isherwood’s Walking Shetland - one of the Clan Guides from Lomond Books and Graham Uney’s Walking on the Orkney and Shetland Isles - 80 Walks in the Northern Isles, are both excellent.
A new ‘pocket’ Shetland walking guide due to be published in May takes a fresh and very accessible look at Shetland for the walker, and offers, as its title says, Forty Coast and Country Walks. Written by Paul and Helen Webster and part of the Pocket Mountains series, the book is aimed squarely at families, with excellent photographs and drawn, illustrations and very good, detailed Ordnance Survey based maps. The style if chatty and informative, but with enough detail to satisfy most readers and hikers. It’s handily divided into the various natural geographical areas of Shetland.
One thing I should say. If you are planning on walking ‘off road’ in Shetland, it’s worthwhile - in fact it’s essential - acquiring the relevant OS Landranger map for the area, and a compass as well as the GPS on your phone. And know how to use them all. Even the best guidebooks can become less than wonderful when the mist comes down or darkness falls...
Posted in: Exploring Shetland