Walk: Sumburgh Head - puffin heaven

Shetland Mainland | Sumburgh | Half day walk | ★★★★★

[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]

📌 Walk: Sumburgh Head - puffin heaven ★★★★★
Start / finish at Jarlshof car park, Sumburgh Hotel, Sumburgh, Shetland Mainland, G.R.: HU 400096 ///reserved.hurricane.line

▶ 6 km / 4 mi | ▲ 320 m | ⌚ Half a day | Moderate
Features: Jarlshof ★★★★★; Sumburgh Head & Lighthouse; Compass Head
Terrain: Often pathless turf above cliffs; quiet road at Sumburgh Head and return from Grutness.

Route & map

Car park - Jarlshof - Sumburgh Head by west coast - Compass Head by east coast - Grutness - start

Route credit: Scotland Off the Beaten Track
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On our visit

Wildlife: Fulmars, starlings and hundreds of puffins around Sumburgh Head; sheep and various other seabirds.
Weather: Overcast skies, windy with occasional spots of rain. About 10°C.

Also on this walk

📌 Sumburgh Head ★★★★★
💬 Lighthouse, new visitor centre and nature reserve, with puffins the star attraction amongst other seabirds.
Minor road end 1 mi south of Sumburgh, Shetland Mainland, G.R.: HU 407079 ///monopoly.mocking.crows
Indoor parts open daily, early April to September. Rest of site (including puffin viewing areas) always open | Indoor parts: £6 adult / £2 child. Rest of site: free

[Puffins at Sumburgh Head]


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