Welcome To Central Mainland

Scalloway, Burra, Trondra, Tingwall, Whiteness & Weisdale. Central Shetland is a landscape of intricate contrasts: layers of limestone make slashes of green between brown hills of harder rock; long narrow sea inlets, or voes, gouged out by glaciers, run miles into the land; storm-battered off-lying islands shelter peaceful anchorages; it’s great walking and fishing country, with scenery, wild flowers and birdlife of amazing richness and variety.


The busy fishing port of Scalloway, Shetland’s capital in the 17th century, is the heart of Central Shetland. This picturesque and surprisingly leafy village is shielded from Atlantic gales by the rugged isles of Trondra and Burra. To the north lie Tingwall’s fertile valley and the headlands of Whiteness and Weisdale.

Scalloway Castle

Scalloway Castle Scalloway Castle Magnifying Glass Overlooking the fine new harbour is Earl Patrick Stewart’s Scalloway castle, built by forced labour in 1600. It’s a grand example of a Scottish fortified house, but was occupied for less than a century and is now roofless. Beneath the grand banqueting hall are large kitchens and a guard-room where 17th century witches, condemned to hang on nearby Gallows Hill, awaited their fate. The castle is open to the public.

Scalloway Museum

A short walk along New Street (past a curious stone plaque depicting a theory of tidal motion) is the Scalloway Museum, opposite the Burn Beach.

Aerial View of Scalloway Aerial View of Scalloway Magnifying Glass There’s a fascinating display on the wartime exploits of Norway’s ‘Shetland Bus’ heroes, who made the village their secret base. Further west on Main Street is the Prince Olav Slipway, which was built by the Norwegians to repair the boats damaged by storms and enemy action during raids on their Nazi-occupied homeland. Across the street Norway House was their barracks.

The Museum also houses memorabilia from Scalloway’s past - particularly the history of fishing in the district.

Out at Port Arthur, beyond the marina and Scalloway Boating Club, visitors are also welcome at the North Atlantic Fisheries College - where you can peep into the mother-and-baby unit of a Lobster hatchery! Scalloway’s other attractions include a memorial to the men who died serving with the Shetland Bus, a heated 17-metre, indoor swimming pool, the new youth centre, a hotel and guest houses, cafes, the college’s fish restaurant, pubs, shops and playing fields.

Traditional boats drawn up on shore recall the Viking past: in Norse times Scalloway (‘the bay of the booths’) was the landing place for landowners attending Shetland’s annual parliament or ‘Ting’, held on the Lawting Holm in Tingwall Loch, two miles north of the village. Nearby is Tingwall Kirk, the ‘mother church’ of Shetland, and its ancient graveyard.

Exploring North and West of Scalloway

In June and July the rich meadows of the Tingwall Valley, on the B9074 north of Scalloway, are one of the best places to see Shetland’s native wild flowers, including several species of orchids.

A picturesque golf course lies between the Loch of Asta and the Tingwall Loch - both fine trout lochs and also home to Shetland’s first resident mute swans. Other birds include tufted duck, red-breasted merganser, and common and black-headed gulls.

Past the Lawting Holm and the Tingwall Kirk near the junction with the main A971 road to the west, there is a pub restaurant and the Tingwall Public Hall, noted for its Sunday teas and social functions.

Whiteness Voe Whiteness Voe Magnifying Glass One of the most spectacular views in Shetland is from Wormadale Hill, on the boundary between Tingwall and Whiteness. Beyond the small isles lying in Whiteness Voe you can see as far as Foula 25 miles to the west.

North of the Loch of Strom, with its small ruined castle, is the parish of Weisdale. Beside the small Loch of Hellister, Shetland Jewellery welcome visitors to view craftsmen and silversmiths at work.

John Clunies Ross, ‘king’ of the Cocos Islands was born in a particularly beautiful area at Sound and from the main road on the hill above, at the Scord of Weisdale, there’s another magnificent view over southern Shetland. The head of Weisdale Voe is a good place to see wading birds, while a couple of hundred yards up the B9075 road is the beautifully restored Weisdale Mill, housing the Bonhoga art gallery, a textiles museum and café.

Kergord Forest Kergord Forest Magnifying Glass The largest stand of trees in Shetland surrounds the farm of Kergord, higher up the valley of Weisdale. There are no crofts here - the tenants were evicted in the 19th century to make way for sheep farms. The secluded farmhouse of Flemington was the wartime Special Operations Executive’s HQ for the Shetland Bus operation. The Kergord plantations, now being managed and extended, attract chaffinches, rooks and other woodland birds rare elsewhere in the islands.From Kergord the road winds through the hills past peat banks to Sandwater, another good trout loch with extensive reedbeds.

Turning right onto the main A970 road takes you to the South Nesting junction, just south of the junction lies one of Shetland’s biggest, deepest lochs, the Loch of Girlsta - famous for its Arctic Char and, tradition says, named after the Icelandic Princess Geirhildr who drowned here a thousand winters ago.Following the A970 south through Tingwall and over the Windy Grind, visitors will find a welcome on Shetland’s main golf course, at Dale, just north of the Brig o’ Fitch junction which takes you back to Scalloway.

Exploring South of Scalloway

The B9074 road south from Scalloway goes through East Voe before crossing the first of three bridges linking the Shetland Mainland to the beautiful isles of Trondra, West Burra and East Burra.

At Burland on Trondra the Shetland Croft Trail is a wonderful place for children to see old Shetland breeds of livestock and learn about crofting history and traditional crafts such as boatbuilding. The Burra Bridge leads to the pretty fishing village of Hamnavoe, with lovely coastal walking out to the lighthouse on Fugla Ness and along the Meal Beach - one of Shetland’s finest beaches and a favourite picnic spot (with convenient car park).

At the south end of West Burra the roofless kirk of St Laurence at Papil is famous for three early Christian carved stones found in the graveyard, two of the original stones and a replica of the Papil stone are on show at the Shetland Museum in Lerwick.

At Duncansclate there’s a fine example of an old croft house with a thatched chimney. A footpath from the car park leads down to the Atlantic storm beach of Banna Minn and on to Kettla Ness - a wild headland with seals and colonies of Arctic skuas and Arctic terns (please keep to the edge of the nesting grounds: if you disturb these birds they’ll mob you and may draw blood).

On an islet next to the bridge between East and West Burra is the Outdoor Centre, a former school now used as a hostel for kayaking, walking and nature study holidays. The short turf on Burra’s rocky hills and shores makes perfect hiking country. A walk up to the reservoir on East Burra gives one of the best panoramas of the islands.

Beyond the hamlet of Houss lies Houss Ness, a promontory with more good walking, rock scenery, seabirds and seals. And, wherever you walk or drive in Burra, there’s always that mysterious and dramatic silhouette of the isle of Foula, out on the Atlantic horizon.

Some Useful Information

Airport (Inter-Island): Tel: (01595) 840246
Shops: Hamnavoe, Scalloway, Whiteness, Weisdale
Petrol: Burra, Weisdale
Public Toilets: Hamnavoe, Mail Beach, Scalloway
Pubs and places to eat: Scalloway, Tingwall, Whiteness, Weisdale
Post Offices: Hamnavoe, Weisdale, Scalloway
Public Telephones: Scalloway, Burra, Tingwall, Whiteness, Weisdale
Swimming Pool: Scalloway, Tel: (01595) 880745
Churches: Burra, Scalloway, Whiteness, Weisdale, Girlsta, Tingwall
Doctor and Health Centre: Scalloway, Tel: (01595) 880219
Police Station: Scalloway, Tel: (01595) 880222