Back o Ollaberry
To explore enormous earth movements that happened 100 to 160 million years ago, head to the beach at the Back o Ollaberry. Walk over a massive fault line, part of the Great Glen Fault, that stretches as far as the west coast of Scotland. The rocks on one side of the fault have slid more than 100km past those on the other side.
Walk around the churchyard then follow coastline until you reach an interpretive panel. From the panel, follow the coast until you reach a track road, which leads back to church.
Duration: 1-hour walk
Terrain: Moderate ground and stiles to cross
Getting there: Take the A970 north past Brae and Mavis Grind to Northmavine. Head north through Northmavine and take a right to Ollaberry (B9079). Drive through Ollaberry. Turn right at post office, then an immediate left to church. Park next to church and churchyard.
If you’re heading west, stop and enjoy the stunning view of voes and small islands at Wormadale. You are, in fact, looking at a flood. Thousands of years of rain has created the valleys and rounded hills here at Weisdale. Under the water is a vast landscape last exposed 10,000 years ago, before sea levels rose at the end of the last glaciation. Rainwater has slowly dissolved bands of soft limestone, leaving more resistant rocks standing in high ridges.
Duration: 10-minute visit
Getting there: Take the A970 north out of Lerwick. At Tingwall, take the A971 signposted to Walls and Sandness. There’s a parking area and viewpoint approximately 2 miles (3 km) from the junction.
The valley at the narrow sea inlet of Gloup Voe in Yell was carved 10,000 years ago by a huge river of melt-water flowing underneath the glacier. When you look at the narrow voe it’s surreal to think the melt-water alone formed the valley; you can only imagine how immense the ice sheet was.
For the best views, walk from the memorial to the head of the voe.
Duration: 1-hour walk
Terrain: Moderate ground.
Getting there: Take the A970 north. At Voe turn right onto the A968 to Toft. Take the Yell ferry from Toft to Ulsta ferry terminal. Follow the A968 to Gutcher. Turn left onto B9083, signposted to Gloup Fisherman’s Memorial. At Gloup, turn right to Kirks, park at the Fisherman’s Memorial.
Hagdale Chromite Quarry
Shetland’s most northerly island Unst is made from a section of ocean floor. When continents collided 430 to 500 million years ago slices of ocean floor were thrust up above sea level, and minerals like chromite became exposed. Hagdale was once the biggest chromite quarry in the country and is also home to the only surviving horse-driven crushing circle.
To view the quarry, walk down to the bottom of the track road.
Duration: 1-hour visit
Terrain: Uneven ground, moderate slope in places
Getting there: Take the A970 north. At Voe turn right onto the A968 to Toft. Take the Yell ferry from Toft to Ulsta ferry terminal and then the A968 to Gutcher. Take the Bluemull Sound ferry from Gutcher to Belmont. From Belmont follow signs for Baltasound and Haroldswick. After Baltasound, go past Littlehamar junction and take the first right after the garage (signposted to Hagdale Horse Mill). Park at the gate.
At Funzie beach on the island of Fetlar you will discover ancient cobbles set into the cliffs which were squashed and stretched under immense heat and pressure 400 million years ago. The cobbles were squashed when a section of ocean crust was thrust upwards over continental rocks.
Duration: 30-minute visit
Getting there: Take the A970 north. At Voe turn right onto the A968 to Toft. Take the Yell ferry from Toft to Ulsta ferry terminal and then the A968 to Gutcher. Then take the Bluemull Sound ferry from Gutcher to Hamars Ness. Follow the B9088 to Funzie, and park at the end of the road next to beach.