By Laurie GoodladOctober 21st 2020
Laurie Goodlad

When considering top visitor attractions, it’s unlikely that a bus shelter on a remote northern island with few passing buses will be top of the list; but that’s precisely what is on the list for many visitors heading to the island of Unst – Shetland’s most northerly island.

Bobby’s Bus Shelter in Unst has become a Shetland treasure in recent years, and arguably one of the most visited and photographed attractions on Shetland’s most northerly island.

Getting to Unst is easy, and Shetland has excellent internal links operated by the Shetland Islands Council, including a fleet of inter-island ferries that run between nine of the 16 inhabited islands. Ferries to Yell and on to Unst are frequent, and booking is not always necessary but is recommended. You can view ferry timetables and book via the SIC's ferry services website.

The Bus Shelter which has now become a focal point for locals and visitors alike, sporting a different and imaginative theme every year, was created by local boy Bobby McCauley when he was at school on the island. Bobby, who lived nearby, growing tired of the often long, cold and wet waits in the morning took matters into his own hands and wrote a letter to the local newspaper requesting a new shelter for him to wait in.

The shelter was duly built and, soon after, a sofa appeared… and a table… a microwave… and a carpet. Before long, the humble bus shelter was a warm and welcoming place with its very own visitors' book for those seeking refuge and a place to rest.

With growing interest in the quirky bus shelter that sits near the village of Baltasound on the main A968 running between Belmont and Haroldswick, an annual theme for the decor was set. Themes over the years have included; the Queen’s Jubilee, outer space, women’s suffrage, the colour yellow and an underwater theme. When Bobby went to study in Swaziland, the shelter was transformed into an African theme in recognition of its founder.

Bobby, now in his thirties, has long since left Unst and is studying for his PhD in Glasgow, but the legacy of his Bus Shelter continues, with a new and fresh theme every year and entrants in the visitors’ book from every corner of the globe.

Nobody could have predicted how popular it would become. A quick look at the hashtag #bobbysbusshelter offers up a host of fun photos showing visitors enjoying the experience as they check off their bucket-list goals. It even has its own Facebook page!

But, there is much more to Unst than Bobby’s Bus Shelter, and you can build a fun-filled day out and explore more of the island. The following are a few suggestions to make the most of your trip:

In Unst, we get a real sense of Shetland’s geological journey from somewhere south of the equator to its current 60°N position. Take a walk over 500 million-year-old rocks that once formed the ocean floor and look for the famous Edmonston’s Chickweed, endemic to the lunar-style landscape of the Keen of Hamar Nature Reserve.

Visit Unst Heritage Centre and Unst Boat Haven to dive deeper into Shetland’s lace knitting and fishing heritage.

Explore the Hermaness National Nature Reserve and hike to the most northerly point of the UK – Muckle Flugga. I've written about a walk you can take at Hermaness on my blog, Shetland With Laurie.

Have lunch and browse the gift shop at Victoria’s Vintage Tearooms and experience the fantastic array of cakes and bakes in Britain’s most northerly tearoom!

Visit the replica Viking longship, Skidbladner, and reconstructed Viking longhouse at Haroldswick and find out more about Shetland’s Norse roots.

Visit some of Britain’s most northerly beaches; Norwick, the Eastings and Skaw are some of the most picturesque beaches on the island and well worth visiting.

Visit the Unst page on this website to find out more about Britain's most northerly island.