Friday 17 January 2014

Westerwick Walk

When we first moved to Shetland we initially explored with the help of the Walk Shetland routes, which are well marked and cater for mixed abilities. With a break in the wet and windy weather we wrapped up warm and took to the cliffs last Sunday.  We headed to the West of Shetland on one of the few walks we have not done and it was amazing. To get there we drove through Skeld taking the turning for Westerwick and Silwick and then followed the signs to Silwick. As with most coastal walks in Shetland we began by driving to the end of the road and finding a place to park. For our car this was easily out of the way of the large agricultural building but I would not recommend taking a bus. We walked along a private road next to the agricultural building and from there the cliff top walk was signposted. One of the lovely things about this walk is that you get great views from the start, with these stacks visible about 100m from the car.

Stacks at Silwick, photo Kevin Riley 

The cliffs and stacks are superb and the cliff faces were alive with fulmars. We saw hauled out seals and generally managed to blow the cobwebs away. There was not a lot of wind but the residual swell caused the waves to break nicely at the bottom of the cliffs adding to the spectacle. Looking due South we could see Fair Isle on the horizon and Foula to the West as well as a fine view of the South mainland of Shetland and the Burra Isles. The cliff tops were all fenced off at this point but as we headed down towards Westerwick the fences dissapeared. Crossing the burn at Westerwick was made easy by the gates, styles and bridge. The burn itself was rumbling and a healthy peaty orange colour.

Hauled out seal at Westerwick, photo Kevin Riley

It was slightly wet underfoot and there are some steep areas as we headed west out of Westerwick. It was fine to do with a toddler in a backpack-style carrier and would be okay for anybody with a basic level of fitness but a good pair of walking boots would help at this point. We finished our walk at Giltarump stack and headed back the way we came. The Walk Shetland route is longer and circular but we were testing the patience of our daughter. The whole walk took us just over 2 hours although this included a stop for a picnic and plenty of photo taking. 

Giltarump stack, photo Kevin Riley

It is a really pretty walk even by Shetland standards with some stunning geology and lovely wildlife, I would highly recommend it.

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