The Fair Isle Circular

This month we’re going to take a wander around fantastic Fair Isle on core path CPPD06.

It’s just short of 12km or just over 7mile walk from Bu Ness, near the site of the old Bird Observatory (it was destroyed by fire) and around the south end of the island. It’s fairly good walking with numerous stiles to cross and unless you go to the top of Malcolm’s Head there isn’t much in the way of hills on the route.

You can download a PDF here or a GPX for use with mobile GPS devices or apps here.

The Shetland Islands Council Inter-island ferry times can be found here and inter-island flights here. There is one general store in the south of the island and a few guest houses you can book in advance for accommodation.

The walk starts with a walk along the road from either the airstrip or the ferry in North Haven where you will head out towards Sheep Rock from an ingenious bird trap you can’t miss in the drystone wall. You’ll also pass the remains of a watermill and stones in the deep gully of the Burn of Gilsetter as you head out to the coast.

The view looking back to Bu Ness is quite stunning. Sadly the Birds Obs that was there was destroyed by fire in 2019, but will hopefully be rebuilt in the next couple of years.

As we walk south on the coast you pass the impressive Sheep rock, an iconic landmark of Fair Isle which is inaccessible to walkers.

From here we continue south along the coast going from stile to stile. Keep a look out for all manner of bird life on the land and cliffs as well as the chance to see cetaceans out at sea.

Before long the South Light of Fair Isle will be visible and we continue around the coast towards it.

South Harbour with Kro Stack is a lovely place to shelter, have a bite to eat and explore before heading on past the lighthouse and either up Malcolm’s Head or along the coast below it.

If you’re feeling fit, and the weather’s fine the climb up Malcolm’s Head is well worth the effort. Just take your time and enjoy as many stops as you need to ‘enjoy the view’. The views are incredible.

After Malcolm’s Head the path takes you back to the road where you’ll have the opportunity to visit Stackhoull Stores, the island shop, for refreshments or a souvenir before heading north along the road back to your start.

Until next time, take care in the countryside and enjoy #shetlandoutdoors!



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