Wild Skies Shetland’s Sky Trail
Wild Skies Shetland is a registered charity based in the UK’s most northerly island, Unst. Its aim is to encourage people to appreciate Shetland’s ever-changing skies – be that the northern lights, midnight sun, a double rainbow, or a dramatic storm.
The charity has just constructed the Wild Skies Shetland Sky Trail. You can explore the trail online. The trail consists of 13 Sky Stops, each featuring a different aspect of the skies, including dialect sayings related to the weather, music, an animated film about how the Vikings navigated by the stars, and an explanation (near some tidal energy turbines) of the links between the moon and tides. The Sky Trail features in a recent film about Shetland featuring TV presenter Kate Humble – you can find Exploring Shetland on Youtube.
Many of the stops are starting points for excellent walks. At the Hermaness National Nature Reserve you can listen to a local man talk about a particularly ferocious storm in the 1990s (courtesy of a listening post at the tiny visitors’ centre) and then walk to see magnificent sea cliffs, Stevenson’s Muckle Flugga lighthouse, a huge gannetry, and (from April to August) puffins.
Another excellent walk takes you along Sandwick’s white sandy beach (known locally as Easting) to a bench that features Viking stories. Sandwick used to be an Iron Age settlement that was inhabited for about 500 years around the time that we now move from BC to AD in our calendars.
A third brilliant walk is to the bay at Woodwick, which cannot be accessed by road. The bay is a funnel for copious amounts of flotsam and jetsam, hence its name. Recent finds include a beached minke whale and a tag from a project monitoring the migration of eels to the Sargasso Sea.
In general, Unst, is an outstanding place for walkers, with a varied and reasonably accessible coastline. The island’s community development group, Unst Partnership, is a proud member of Walkers are Welcome.
Image: Catriona Waddington (chair) and Kate Humble at the top of Saxa Vord Unst