Walk: Sumburgh Head - puffin heaven

[Puffins at Sumburgh Head]

Shetland has so much to offer year-round, but between approximately May and July thousands of feathery seasonal migrants flock to its shores - none more loved than the puffin. The rocky cliffs around Sumburgh Head accommodate hundreds of them, making this one of the UK's very best places to seek out the Tammie Norie (to use the local name): they're evidently not bothered by the planes, right overhead on final approach to Sumburgh Airport. There's a road right up to the lighthouse and its fancy new visitor centre, but a full circuit of the peninsula from nearby Jarlshof (and the Sumburgh Hotel which serves food) takes in the fascinating wider scenery too. The western cliffs grow in stature on the outward tramp, whilst the east coast return traverses shattered slopes slowly slipping into the sea below - you can see why they're called The Slithers...

[The first part of the walk follows increasingly high clifftops from Jarlshof to Sumburgh Head]

Name: Walk: Sumburgh Head - puffin heaven ★★★
Length: 6 km / 4 miles
Ascent: 320 metres
Points of interest: Jarlshof; Sumburgh Head & Lighthouse; Compass Head
Start / finish: Jarlshof car park at Sumburgh Hotel, Sumburgh, G.R.: HU 400096 / reserved hurricane line

Route: Car park - Jarlshof - Sumburgh Head by west coast - Compass Head by east coast - Grutness - start
Terrain: Often pathless turf above cliffs; quiet road at Sumburgh Head and return from Grutness.
Wildlife today: Fulmars, starlings and hundreds of puffins around Sumburgh Head; sheep and various other seabirds.
Weather today: Overcast skies, windy with occasional spots of rain. About 10°C.

 >> see separate post for Jarlshof ★★★

Name: Sumburgh Head ★★★★
Description: Lighthouse, new visitor centre and nature reserve, with puffins the star attraction amongst other seabirds.
Location: Minor road end a mile south of Sumburgh, G.R.: HU 407079 / monopoly mocking crows
Open (2017): Visitor centre: daily, April to September. Lighthouse: enquire directly. Rest of site: always
Cost (2017): Visitor centre: £6 (adults), £2 (children). Lighthouse: extra charge. Rest of site: free

[Puffins at Sumburgh Head]


Route credit: Shetland.org (modified)

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