The stunning south mainland of Shetland has much to offer visitors to our islands. From archaeology and wildlife, to spectacular vistas and rural life, whatever kind of adventure you are looking for, we would be happy to create it for you.
Jarlshof is a multi-period archaeological site of great importance. In one small area, we can experience 5,000 years of Shetland’s history, all in chronological order.
In the winter of 1897, a violent storm tore across the land at Sumburgh and exposed what we now know is the remains of Jarlshof. 50 years of careful and deliberate excavation took place to leave us with this wonderful snapshot of each period ranging from the Neolithic times up to modern day. There is also a visitor centre and gift shop on site.
The Crofthouse Museum is a restored traditional Crofthouse (cottage on a small farm). Here you will discover what life would have been like circa 1870, with its “but and ben” rooms, peat fire and box beds. The house also includes a barn and byre and there is a lovely garden that leads to a restored watermill.
St Ninian’s Isle
St Ninian’s Isle is famous for its Pictish treasure hoard that was found in the 1950’s by a local schoolboy. The treasure is now housed at the Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh but copies can be seen at the Shetland Museum and Archives.
However, there is so much more to St Ninian’s Isle then that. From the road, we can get a beautiful view across to St Ninian’s Isle, which is connected by the UK’s largest active shell sand tombolo.
On the island itself, we are treated to stunning cliff scenery at the south end of the island. If you would like to build in the walk to your tour, please get in touch.
Quendale Mill is a restored mill that dates back to the 1860’s, although the estate itself is much older than that. Here you will get a warm welcome and an opportunity to watch a video about the history of the mill. Afterwards, enjoy time exploring the exhibits and examples of all the tools and equipment needed in the mill. The grinding was done by the dam and wheel, which is still outside the mill today. There is also a small gift shop and refreshments are available for purchase.
Hoswick Visitor Centre
The recently renovated Hoswick Visitor centre is full of interesting local history and information on the infamous Hoswick whaling case. They have a weaving display, which links in nicely to the fact that there are two knitwear producers as their neighbours. There is a café and gift shop in the visitor centre and nearby is a jewellery maker and beach.
If you fancy seeing the world’s best-preserved broch (Iron Age tower), then it is possible during the summer months. Mousa Boats does a daily trip across to the island, which leaves time to explore the broch, walk around the island and take in some of the wildlife and birds. If you would like to include this on your Shetland adventure, please let me know and we can discuss options.
Sumburgh Head Nature Reserve and Sumburgh Head Visitor Centre
There is much to see at Sumburgh Head Nature Reserve. Our tour will include a photo stop at Sumburgh Head so that you have an opportunity to see the Sumburgh Head Lighthouse and the various seabirds that reside on the cliffs. The birds come ashore to breed during the summer months (usually April to August) and these include the famous Puffin (or Tammie Norie as they are locally known) although other seabirds include: Guillemots, Fulmars and listen out for the call of the Kittiwake.
Tours here can be extended to include a visit to the Sumburgh Head Visitor Centre. There are various displays at the visitor centre including history of the Sumburgh Head Lighthouse (built by Robert Stevenson in 2021), information about the maritime and wildlife in Shetland and see the Radar Hut, which played an important role during World War 2.
Keep your eyes peeled at Sumburgh Head, as sometimes it is possible to see dolphins, orcas and other whales.
Old Scatness Broch and Iron Age Village
Old Scatness was discovered in 1975 when the main road to Sumburgh Airport was being constructed. Later, it was excavated by archaeologists from the University of Bradford and local volunteers to a high standard. Unlike Jarlshof, Old Scatness is reconstructed to show you what life would have been like during the Iron Age. See the broch and wheelhouses that people would have lived in. Visits here gives a unique archaeological experience and can easily be included in our scenic tour. There is also a visitor centre and small gift shop on site.View our South Mainland tour for small groups