Walk: Seals on show at Muckle Roe

[View north over the Hams from the abandoned buildings at Burg - most of the coastal part of the walk is visible here]

Muckle Roe (Big Red Island) is a nearly uninhabited island connected to the Shetland mainland near Brae by a short bridge over Roe Sound. A minor road follows the east coast but the most interesting scenery is on the quiet western side around the Hams of Muckle Roe - rusty-colour cliffs and sea stacks alternating with small beaches make this area a delight, frequented by numerous seals and the odd breeding seabird in summer. Look out for the ruined buildings and mill above Town Loch (and later at Burg); the former are all that remain of an abandoned crofting settlement overlooking the water here. Getting there over the moorland interior of the island is tough and pathless, but well worth the effort.

[Shags and cormorants nesting on one of North Ham's cliffs]

Name: Walk: Seals on show at Muckle Roe ★☆☆
Length: 12 km / 7 miles
Ascent: 570 metres
Main summits: South Ward (169 metres); Mid Ward (172 metres, sub-2000')
Points of interest: Mill Loch; Hams of Muckle Roe; Burki Waters
Start / finish: Car park at Scarfataing Cemerery, Muckle Roe, G.R.: HU  333642 / knees fast ferrets

Route: Car park - South Ward - Mid Ward - North Ward - Mill Loch - Town Loch - Swabi Stack - Big Geo of Stromness via Muckle Roe coastline - Burn of Cooses at G.R.: HU 305654 - Burki Waters - South Ward - return to start by outward route (or similar)
Terrain: Mostly pathless, occasionally boggy moorland, although with faint paths near coast and track between coast and Burki Waters.
Wildlife today: Eider ducks and lots of seals at South Ham; cormorants and shags nesting at North Ham; sheep, geese and other seabirds.
Weather today: Mostly cloudy with low cloud on South Ward, but dry with occasional brighter spells later on. Fairly light winds, cool.
Anything else? The cemetery is at the end of a 1 km, good gravel track from the Muckle Roe coast road at Scarfataing.

[The coastline around North Ham boasts spectacular rock stacks and natural arches]


Route credit: Shetland.org

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