Lerwick And Bressay

Bressay is an island situated to the east of Lerwick Harbour (sheltering it from the elements) – the ferry crossing there only takes a few minutes. Bressay is quite different from the rest of Shetland, with fertile soil and rounded hills.

Noss is a Nature Reserve – a superb island to see seabirds on dramatic cliffs and can be reached by ferry from Bressay or via special boat trips from Lerwick.

Sites of interest include:

  1. Kirkabister Ness Lighthouse – a white lighthouse to the south of Bressay, seen on the MV Hjaltland and MV Hrossey’s approach to and departure from Lerwick. Kirkabister is situated above a natural arch in the cliff. 
  2. Ward of Bressay – at 226m, the Ward of Bressay is a hill worth climbing, offering dramatic views of Bressay and Lerwick. There is also a road to the summit. 
  3. Bressay cliffs – the cliffs, caves and natural arches of Bressay are very well worth a visit, and can be seen close-up by boat (from Lerwick harbour.) The cliffs of Noss can also be seen from the sea by boat, as well as porpoises and seals – making the trip very well worthwhile. 
  4. The Noup of Noss – these spectacular cliffs are home to vast numbers of seabirds in the summer – 45,000 pairs of Guillemots, 7,000 pairs of gannets, 6,000 pairs of fulmers, 3,000 pairs of kittiwakes and Puffins, Shags and Razorbills. 
  5. Cradle Holm – Stunning cliff scenery in Noss, where part of the cliff edge is seperate from the rest. The holm is 48m tall and was once reachable by a hoist (or cradle) which could hold one man and a sheep. However, this was dismantled on grounds of safety and a wall was erected on the neighbouring cliff.

Top tips 

  • Noss and the summer boat service there is managed by Scottish Natural Heritage wardens. Wait at the sign on the shore at Noss Sound for a small inflatable boat with an outboard motor, which travels to Noss from 10am to 5pm (except Mondays and Thursdays) from late May to the end of August. If the weather’s too bad for the ferry, the wardens hoist a red flag outside their house on Noss. 
  • Although you can take a car to Bressay, many of the places of interest are inaccessible except on foot. Please be prepared to do a little walking!

The dramatic island of Noss with its towering cliffs supports an incredible array of nesting seabirds. In spring and summer, gannets, guillemots, fulmars and kittiwakes congregate on the cliffs. Great Skuas, which nest further inland, can also be seen hunting their prey overhead. Follow the coastal path which meanders through wildflower-strewn grassland and keep a watchful eye for porpoises and otters offshore. 

The coastal path is the most popular route for visitors to explore Noss.  Leaving from the visitor centre, it follows a grassy surface around the coast (6 miles), climbing steadily to the highest cliffs at 180m.

An alternative to this is to miss the steepest section by walking to the viewpoint overlooking Charlie’s Holm before returning the same way to the visitor centre (4miles) – still allowing good views of the cliffs.

How To Get Here

There is an hourly car ferry from Lerwick to Bressay (visit www.shetland.gov.uk/ferries), then follow Noss signs for three miles to the car park. From here, take the SNH boat for a three minute crossing. The SNH boat operates between 11am and 5pm each day in summer (except Mondays and Thursdays). Please call this information line 0800 107 7818 to check if the ferry (which is weather dependant) is running that day.

By Bike: Local bike hire is available in Lerwick which is on the National Cycle Network Route 1 (Aberdeen - Shetland). Leave the route at Lerwick and take the car ferry to Bressay. Follow the signs to Noss (3.5 miles to Noss Sound). 

On Foot: There are no national long distance routes in the area. It is possible to walk on quiet surfaced roads from the Bressay ferry terminal to Noss Sound. (4 miles including 0.5 miles on unsurfaced track to the ferry).



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