Breckon

Yell's furthest north beach at Breckon is often sheltered from Shetland's prevailing south westerly winds. From Breckon Farm follow the road south then west towards Gloup.

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Difficulty LevelModerate
Walk Distance9km for longer walk
Duration4 hours 30 minutes (longer walk)
Height Gain189m
Map DescriptionOS Explorer 470: Shetland - Unst, Yell & Fetlar
Start Point Map ReferenceHP 526 048

Directions to Start

Yell is accessible by inter-island ferry, and there is public transport available to the ferry terminal and on Yell itself; the bus timetable can be found here.

Yell's furthest north beach at Breckon is often sheltered from Shetland's prevailing south westerly winds. From Breckon Farm follow the road south then west towards Gloup. Here you can visit the memorial carved and erected in memory of fifty eight Shetland fishermen who were caught by appalling weather in July 1881. The boats set out from Gloup Voe, just below where the memorial stands.

From Gloup Voe follow the track to Gloup Ness and great views from the old coast guard watch hut and then follow the coast towards Breckon to the south east keeping an eye out for bird life and even otters.

There have been many shipwrecks along this stretch of coastline. If you have time to visit the local museum in Burravoe, you can read some of the harrowing accounts and see artefacts washed up or retrieved by divers. Ask about the Lastdregger and the Diana in particular.

Skirting below Breckon Farm follow the path down and then along the award winning sands to the Ness of Houlland. Otters are often seen here and if you are interested in stones, hunt among the crevices of the rocks at the eastern end for rough "sugary" garnets, which sometimes get washed out of the more crumbly mica schists. The geology here is interesting, with much faulting and folding.

Nearby Sites of Interest

  • The Old Haa in Burravoe is worth exploring to relive the tales of the shipwrecks in the area. You can grab a coffee and homebake whilst you’re there, too!
  • The Sands of Breckon beach is one of the five beaches in Shetland to hold a ‘Keep Scotland Beautiful’ Seaside Award; two of which can be found on Yell. The West Sandwick beach, on Yell’s west coast, in a tranquil stop-off you should try not to miss before leaving the isle.
  • The Shetland Gallery, open from May-September, houses a collection of contemporary Shetland artwork and crafts, and is situated at Sellafirth, just off the main road through the island. Well worth a visit on your way to or from this walk.

The narrow headland of Ness of Houlland stretches out to the northwest, ending in the ragged rocky Outsta Ness, much frequented by seabirds of all kinds. A scramble out here used to be an exciting challenge, but further erosion by winter seas has made it dangerous now. There are fine views from here to the west side of Unst and along the north coast of Yell.

Make your way back through fascinating alignments of big boulders in several places. People have built homes and worked the land, here, from the earliest periods of human settlement in Shetland. Sadly however, so much storm damage and sand blow has occurred, that systematic archaeological analysis has been said to be impossible, as all the periods have been jumbled up and follow the waymarked path behind the dunes back up to the farm.

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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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