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Sumburgh - Scousburgh

This is the southernmost section of Route 1 of the National Cycle Network in Shetland and likely to form part of your journey towards Lerwick or Scalloway.

Distance: 17km / 10.6 miles  (Linear route)

Download Route: • KML File • GPX File

The route starts from the Stevenson-built lighthouse perched high on the dramatic sandstone cliffs of Sumburgh Head. Puffins can be seen just over the perimeter wall of the lighthouse, along with guillemots, kittiwakes and shags crowding the rock ledges below. Here too you can enjoy the aerobatics of the fulmars as they swoop close by on thermals and updrafts. It is also a great vantage point for spotting marine wildlife such as whales porpoises or basking sharks.

A single-track road leads down to Shetland’s prinicipal airport at Sumburgh, which sits alongside Jarlshof, one of Shetland’s must visit sites. These remarkable archaeological excavations came to light in the late 19th century when violent storms exposed evidence of these ancient buildings, some of which are believed to be 4,000 years old. Successive layers of the Jarlshof site were buried by wind-blown sand, preserving the buildings you can now walk through as a time-line from the Neolithic to the 17th century. Artefacts from Jarlshof and the nearby archeological dig at Old Scatness are on display in the Shetland Museum at Lerwick.

There is a three mile section on the A970 before the route takes a loop diversion to the right towards Boddam and passes the Croft House Museum; a restored cottage which depicts a typical mid 19th century Shetland croft house. Rejoin the A970 uphill by the school and take the minor road to the west just a little south of the junction. The route continues along minor roads affording views across the Loch of Spiggie to the imposing high ground of Fitful Head. A bit less than 1 mile (1.5km) take a sharp right onto the road along the south shore of the loch. If at first you wished to explore the area south of the loch towards the Bay of Quendale there is a restored water mill (Quendale Mill) with visitor centre and toilets at the end of the road.

The RSPB’s nature reserve at Sumburgh Head is the UK’s most accessible colony of puffins, although they only come to land between late April and early August.

The Loch of Spiggie is a RSPB reserve for wildfowl and popular with fly fishermen seeking brown trout. In late autumn, hundreds of migrating whooper swans and greylag geese from Iceland pass through here, while in summer you will see arctic terns and great skuas bathe in the shallows. Near the road by the burn flowing from the loch the ‘Peerie’ Spiggie Beach makes a picturesque and sheltered stop off. If you wish to visit the wide expanse of golden sand by the Bay of Scousburgh there is a surfaced road signposted to the beach on the north shore of the loch.

The flat section around the loch ends with a short climb through South Scousburgh to the B9122 just past the Spiggie Hotel, with Scousburgh itself just a little further north.

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