This is one of a series of four self-guided tours across Shetland in search of the filming locations that have graced our screens, inspiring people to visit the isles. This time we explore the locations used in Scalloway, Trondra and Burra.

Lerwick to Scalloway

This tour begins in Lerwick, where visitors start the experience by driving to Scalloway via the north or south road. We will pass Tesco and Clickimin Broch on the south road before joining the A970 heading south. At Gulberwick (three miles from the town centre), turn right on to the B9073 towards Scalloway and follow the road signs for a further three miles until you reach the village of Scalloway.

Scalloway is the former capital of Shetland – although the ‘welcome’ sign will tell you it’s the ‘ancient capital’. This is a fallacy. Scalloway was the administrative capital of Shetland until fairly recent times (1838), when Lerwick overtook it as the islands’ economic – and legislative – centre.

Scalloway is on the west coast and was a natural choice for a settlement. Sheltered from the wild North Atlantic, the village sits at the foot of a fertile limestone valley. It has a wide, natural harbour, is close to rich fishing grounds, and has a good supply of fresh drinking water. Scalloway has been inhabited since Neolithic times and is only a mile or so from the Viking and Norse parliament site, or Ting site, in the Tingwall Valley.

Today Scalloway is a picturesque and welcoming village with a population of about 1,200. The village is a thriving fishing centre and has excellent local amenities, including a school, swimming pool, shops, cafes, and a fascinating museum.

As you come into Scalloway, you’ll see that the skyline is dominated by the roofless ruin of the Scalloway Castle. This is our first filming location, a key stage for the unfolding drama of series five that saw a ring of people trafficking engulf the islands’. The castle played backdrop when a then suspended Sandy discovered the suspected murderer as he guided school children around the historic site. Of course, a fight and chase ensued, leading to the harbour and one of the local fishing boats.

Scalloway Castle is one of only two substantial castles in Shetland, and it has played host to its very own infamous villain from times past. Scalloway Castle was completed around 1600 and built by tyrant Earl Patrick Stewart, Earl of Orkney & Lord of Zetland [Shetland]. Earl Patrick, known as ‘Black Patie’, was detested in Shetland, and despite spending much of his reign in Orkney, he retained residences in Shetland, including Scalloway Castle. This was a time of great suffering, punctuated by oppression and harsh, iron-fisted rule. Many of the stories of Black Patie are veiled with sinister speculations, and it isn’t easy to decipher what’s true and what’s legend. Yet his name has gone down in history, and he’s often pegged as one of the most wicked villains in Shetland’s history. Scalloway Castle was used as the county court from 1600 until the early 1800s when powers moved to Lerwick (before this, the Ting site in Tingwall was used).

Park the car at the Scalloway Museum and spend a few hours exploring the castle and museum. The Scalloway Museum is located beside the castle and has fascinating displays about the Shetland Bus Operation. The Shetland Bus was one of the main threads of the plot in series one; ultimately, the murder is linked to the Shetland Bus, an event dating to the Second World War.

Scalloway was the base for the Shetland Bus operation throughout the Second World War. The village continues to celebrate its Norwegian ties and is still a place of great importance for those who had family members involved in the dangerous operation.

In 1940, Nazi troops invaded Norway, and from that moment until the war ended in 1945, Shetland became central to the resistance movement. The Shetland Bus operation involved small wooden fishing boats that plied across the North Sea in winter, under cover of darkness, carrying refugees from Nazi-occupied Norway and supplying weapons and agents to assist with the resistance movement within Norway.

For the greater part of the war, this operation was conducted from Scalloway, a quieter base than Lerwick with a slipway for carrying out essential repairs to the boats. A dangerous and daring operation, ships often sank. The Shetland Bus Memorial – found along the village’s Main Street, outside the Church of Scotland – commemorates those lost to the Nazis and the North Sea.

After you’ve seen the castle, museum and war memorial, continue along the street towards Prince Olav Slipway, where you’ll see the base of the operation, where boats were repaired before they made the perilous crossing back to Norway.

After lunch, make your way back towards the pier (beside the castle and museum) and have a walk around the area. Scalloway has an excellent natural harbour and is the main fish landing port on the west of Shetland. Scalloway’s new state-of-the-art fish market opened in 2020, and it’s in the fish market’s vicinity that many of the scenes of series five were filmed. One of the local fishing boats was used when filming scenes investigating people trafficking – it was a local boat that also provided the getaway after Sandy’s altercation in the castle.

Scalloway to Trondra

From Scalloway, take the B9074 towards Trondra and Burra. Many of the houses along East Voe will be recognisable from the various ‘general shots’ of Shetland’s landscapes. These colourful wooden houses have a very Scandinavian feel and add a lovely splash of colour, whatever the weather.

About a mile from Scalloway, you’ll reach the first of two single-carriageway bridges that lead to Trondra and Burra. Trondra bridge opened in 1971 and provides a vital link between Trondra and Mainland Shetland. The bridge has seen action throughout the show. Most recently, filming was carried out here for the most recent series.

Over the bridge, a large wooden house built by the sea with a boat shed and pier has also been used as a filming location. This is a private residence, so visitors are asked not to trespass, but you get lovely views of the picturesque house as you pass through Trondra towards Burland Croft.

Trondra has a population of around 135 people. Neighbouring Scalloway and Burra serve the community, and the Trondra Community Hall regularly hosts Sunday Teas throughout the summer months.

Driving the main B9074 through the island, look out for the road signs advertising Burland Croft Trail (now closed). This was one of the central filming locations in series two. The croft was the fictional home of Evie Henderson and her husband, John. The croft is run by Mary and Tommy Isbister. As in the series, the adjoining workshop is used by Tommy as a boatbuilding shed where he constructs traditional wooden Shetland boats.

Mary and Tommy have run the croft since 1976 and endeavour to manage it traditionally and sustainably, breeding heritage crops and animals native to the islands. Their main aim is to maintain native Shetland breeds of animals, poultry and produce.


From here, continue along the B9074 towards Burra. Again, passing over another similar single-carriageway road bridge that connects Trondra and Burra. The bridge was opened in 1971 and today provides a road link for the 1,000 people who live in Burra.

Carry on along the road for a mile, bearing right towards Hamnavoe as you reach the top of the hill. Hamnavoe is one of Shetland’s most picturesque villages, with rows of traditional fishermen’s cottages lining the roads. Look out for the ‘shell shed’ as you pass Roadside. The shed has been lovingly decorated with a vibrant pattern of colourful scallop, queen and mussel shells.

Hamnavoe is a village that grew up around a prosperous fishing industry in the Burra Haaf – the water beyond the village towards the island of Foula. The community grew in the early part of the 20th century and, unlike other parts of Shetland, was entirely dependant on fishing rather than the more common blended method of fishing and crofting. Residents of Hamnavoe had no land to cultivate and depended entirely on the sea.

Today the pier and marina still provide the backdrop to village life, and inshore fishermen still set out daily to fish for mackerel, cod, crab and lobster. The pier was also featured in the 'Shetland' series as the spot where a fishing boat – local boat Comrades – brought ashore a body that had been caught in their net.

If you have time to pass in Hamnavoe, the Hamnavoe Circular is a fantastic walk that starts at our next filming location – Meal Beach.


From Hamnavoe, head back to the junction at the top of the hill and follow the road signs towards Papil. About a quarter of a mile along the road, you’ll see a car park on the right and signs for Meal Beach. The beach leads to another filming location, a 300-yard walk from the car park along a gravel path with footbridges across boggy ground. The beach here was used for filming scenes for series seven – yet to be released.

It’s from here that you can join the Hamnavoe Circular mentioned above. There are public toilets available at the car park, as well as in the village of Hamnavoe.

Bridge End

Continuing along the road, heading south towards Papil, Bridge End sits about two miles from Meal and is the heart of the South End of Burra. Here, the island splits to the East Isle on the left, and towards Papil on the West Isle, following the road to the right at the War Memorial. This area was a crucial location in series two, where it was used as the spot where Evie and John Henderson married. Scenes here include a traditional bridal march where a fiddler leads the wedding procession towards the kirk. The kirk used here was the Freefield Kirk that sits about a quarter of a mile from the Bridge End War Memorial on the road towards Papil. This is a Presbyterian kirk, belonging to the Church of Scotland – Shetland’s most prominent faith group.


From Freefield and Bridge End, continue along the road for 1.5 miles until you reach Papil. Papil was the scene of some dramatic scenes in series two and five. In series two, it is featured in the wedding of John and Evie and during Evie’s hen party. It was also used as the scene of a devastating house fire in series five, where hostage Zezi was also held for a time.

Papil itself is an important religious area in Shetland. It is the site of a round-towered church that was reputed to have been one of three churches gifted to Shetland by three Norse princesses in the 12th century. The name ‘Papil’ also has religious connotations, with ‘papa’ meaning ‘priest’ in Old Norse. Other ‘Papils’ in Shetland are all the sites of former or present-day churches, and all our Papas and Papils are believed to have been important religious places.

The kirkyard was where the famous Papil Stone was discovered in 1887. The sandstone cross-slab depicting axe-carrying bird-men is an early ninth-century Pictish cross-slab and is now held in the National Museum of Scotland. A replica can be viewed at the Shetland Museum & Archives.


From Papil, follow the road until it ends at the Minn Beach car park. Minn beach is a beautiful tombolo (double-sided beach) that is sandy on one side and stony on the other. The beach is a 350-yard walk from the car park, and visitors will not be disappointed by its sheer beauty and drama.

If you want to make the most of your visit – pick up a picnic from Marina’s Kitchen Cabinet (signposted before the top of the hill at Minn). This is an honesty cake cabinet where you can select your home bakes, jams, chutneys, postcards, and even soup, leaving the cash in a money tin. You’ll see several roadside cake fridges and boxes selling eggs, jams etc., around Shetland. All of these are run on a policy of honesty.

Minn Beach is often incorrectly known as ‘Bannaminn Beach’ (Bannaminn is at the other side of the bay and can be seen from Minn). Don’t make the mistake of annoying locals by calling Minn, Bannaminn!

The beach features heavily as a filming location in the sixth series, so stay tuned for that one.

If you want to stretch your legs, why not walk around the point of Ketlaness beyond the Minn Beach? This is a stunning coastal walk, particularly in early summer when the sea pinks carpet the cliffs in a thick shag-pile of pink. Minn is also an excellent beach for wild swimming as it’s relatively sheltered and enclosed from bad weather – it also boasts some of the best sunsets in Shetland.

What better way to end this self-guided tour than with an evening swim and sunset at the beautiful Minn beach.