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Top and Tailing the Shetlands

Route Details

  • Distance: 109 miles (end to end)
  • Time needed: 3-6 days
  • Classification: Hard
  • Traffic: On road
  • Surface: Tarmac
  • National Cycle Network: Route 1
  • Start: Sumburgh Head
  • Finish: Nor Wick Bay
  • Cycle hire: Eric Brown Raleigh Cycles - Lerwick
  • Access: Ferries operate between Aberdeen and Lerwick.

Route Description

This route uses Route 1 of the National Cycle Network on the Shetland Islands taking you on a fabulous tour of these beautiful islands. Shetland has 1000 miles of smooth and quiet roads. There are few steep hills, but open vistas of sea and sky make for exhilarating cycling, particularly at midsummer where there are 19 hours of daylight.

The ride starts at Sumburgh Head (look out for puffins) and heads north through mainland Shetland passing Loch Spiggie and the beautiful Bay of Scousburgh on your way to the capital of Lerwick. North of Lerwick it uses some of the many winding single-track roads as alternatives to the sometimes busy main road to create several circular or braided routes (see yellow route lines on below map).

You continue through mainland Shetland passing Loch Strom at Hjaltasteyn and then onto Voe before coming to Booth of Toft where you catch the ferry to Yell. The route then passes through Yell, passing the stunning Basta Voe on your way to the ferry at Gutcher where another ferry crossing takes you to Unst. More fabulous scenery awaits you on Unst including the lovely Loch of Watlee, before arriving at the finish point at Nor wick Bay.

Things to see and do

Natural attractions:

  • Bay of Scousburgh
  • Loch of Spiggie
  • Yell Sound
  • Keen of Hamar National Nature Reserve
  • Hermaness National Nature Reserve

Visitor attractions:

  • Ness of Burgi
  • Jarlshof Prehistoric and Norse Settlements
  • Crofthouse Museum
  • St Ninians Church (remains of)
  • Broch of Mousa
  • Weisdale Mill and Bonhoga Art Gallery
  • Scalloway Museum
  • Bay of Scousburgh
  • Muness Castle (remains of)
Zoom level: 
Buy the map

The Shetland Islands PDF cycle map is available as a digital download only.


Route 1 runs across the Shetland Isles from Sumburgh Head to the island of Unst, with numerous ‘braided’ routes giving a total distance of 136 miles.

109 miles