I have a confession to make. Until recently, I had never been to Hermaness Nature Reserve. Hermaness is in Unst, right in the North of Shetland and indeed the North of Scotland and the UK.
It earns its nature reserve status from the number of birds that the area supports. 100,000 breeding pairs of birds live there during the summer months and is one of the UK’s largest seabird colonies.
We were asked to do a tour for a mother and daughter visiting Shetland for the first time. The daughter was putting together a wildlife photography portfolio for her university course and wanted to get up close and personal with some of Shetland’s wildlife.
The weather had been poor all that week, but it cleared up beautifully for our tour to Hermaness. We met our guests in Unst, as they had decided to camp there for a few days.
It takes about an hour to walk to the cliffs of Hermaness from the carpark. There is a boardwalk part of the way but by next summer, there will be a boardwalk that will allow you to do a circular walk around Hermaness. That being said, be sure to wear sturdy walking boots and dress appropriately for the weather. Walking poles aren’t a necessity, but some folk may wish to bring them anyway.
It is important to stick to the boardwalk as there are breeding Great Skuas (bonxies) nesting in the moorland. If you get too close, they will dive bomb you. They really do not like people invading their turf!!
Once out at the cliffs, you will be treated to hundreds of puffins, some of them walking right up to your feet but further along, you come to the gannet colony, which you smell before you see! It is thought that there are 30,000 pairs of breeding gannets in this area. There are 12 other species of birds that you should keep your eyes open for when at Hermaness.
A walk towards the north of Hermaness will afford you a view of Muckle Flugga, the most Northerly point in the UK.
Bring a packed lunch with you and just sit for a while, enjoying nature and leaving all your worries behind.
If you would like a tour to Hermaness, be sure to get in touch.