Shetland south west

Introduction

Times of high water

Out Skerries: High water is 30 minutes before high water at Lerwick

Vidlin Voe: High water is 20 minutes before high water at Lerwick

Lunning Sound: High water is 15 minutes before high water at Lerwick

Dury Voe: High water is 14 minutes before high water at Lerwick

South Nesting Bay: High water is 14 minutes before high water at Lerwick

Lax Firth, Cat Firth: High water is 10 minutes before high water at Lerwick

Foraness Voe: High water is 5 minutes before high water at Lerwick

Dales Voe: High water is 5 minutes before high water at Lerwick

Lerwick: Lerwick is a standard port

Bressay and Noss: High water is at high water at Lerwick

Brei Wick: High water is 2 minutes after high water at Lerwick

Gulber Wick: High water is 2 minutes after high water at Lerwick

East Voe of Quarff: High water is 4 minutes after high water at Lerwick

Bay of Fladdabister: High water is 4 minutes after high water at Lerwick

Aith Voe: High water is 6 minutes after high water at Lerwick

Mousa: High water is 10 minutes after high water at Lerwick

Channer Wick: High water is 8 minutes after high water at Lerwick

Voe: High water is 4 minutes after high water at Lerwick

Grutness Voe: High water is 15 minutes after high water at Lerwick

Fair Isle: High water is 22 minutes before high water at Lerwick

Bay of Quendale: High water is 1 hours after high water at Lerwick

St. Ninian's Isle: Bigton Wick, St. Ninian's Bay: high water is 1 hours and 15 minutes before high water at Lerwick

South Havra: High water is 1 hours and 45 minutes before high water at Lerwick

West Burra: High water is 2 hours before high water at Lerwick

Clift Sound: High water is 1 hours and 30 minutes before high water at Lerwick

The Deeps: In The Deeps, Sandsound Voe, Weisdale Voe, Whiteness Voe, etc.: high water is 1 hours and 50 minutes before high water at Lerwick

Vaila: Around Vaila and Grunting Voe: high water is 1 hours and 50 minutes before high water at Lerwick

Foula: High water is 1 hours and 35 minutes before high water at Lerwick

Papa Stour: High water is 2 hours and 10 minutes before high water at Lerwick

West Burra Firth, Voe of Snarraness: High water is 2 hours and 10 minutes before high water at Lerwick

Vementry: High water is 2 hours and 13 minutes before high water at Lerwick

Swarbacks Minn: High water is 2 hours and 20 minutes before high water at Lerwick

Busta Voe, Olna Firth: High water is 2 hours and 20 minutes before high water at Lerwick

Mangaster Voe, Roe Sound: High water is 2 hours and 20 minutes before high water at Lerwick

Ura Firth: High water is 2 hours and 20 minutes before high water at Lerwick

Brae Wick: High water is 2 hours and 5 minutes before high water at Lerwick No significant tidal streams in this area.

Hamna Voe: High water is 2 hours before high water at Lerwick

Ronas Voe: High water is 2 hours and 5 minutes before high water at Lerwick

Sand Voe: High water is 1 hours and 59 minutes before high water at Lerwick

Point of Fethaland: High water is 1 hours and 40 minutes before high water at Lerwick

Tidal streams

Between Whalsey and the Out Skerries: The south-east going stream begins at 4 hours and 5 minutes before high water at Lerwick. The north-west going stream begins at 2 hours and 5 minutes after high water at Lerwick. The flow reaches a speed of 0.5 knots at springs.

North east tip of Whalsay: The south-east going stream begins at 4 hours and 5 minutes before high water at Lerwick. The north-west going stream begins at 2 hours and 10 minutes after high water at Lerwick. The flow reaches a speed of 4 knots at springs. The area can be dangerous with a significant sea from the south east. The flow is likely rather less in the channel between here and the Out Skerries.

Linga Sound: The north north-east going stream begins at 2 hours and 20 minutes after high water at Lerwick. The south south-west going stream begins at 4 hours and 30 minutes before high water at Lerwick. The flow reaches a speed of 6 knots at springs.

Lunning Sound: The north going stream begins at 2 hours and 15 minutes after high water at Lerwick. The south going stream begins at 4 hours and 30 minutes before high water at Lerwick. The north going stream reaches a speed of 6 knots at springs. The south going stream reaches a speed of 5 knots at springs. Away from the islets and narrow part, the tides in the sound are slower, dropping to less than 2 knots by Swevers Taing and by the south end of Hunder Holm. However, the islets create a confused flow, with eddies and whirlpools forming.

Between Moul of Eswick and Lunning Sound: Between Moul of Eswick and Lunning Sound, the passage west of Whalsay: The north going stream begins at 1 hours and 35 minutes after high water at Lerwick. The south going stream begins at 4 hours and 25 minutes before high water at Lerwick. The flow reaches a speed of 1.5 knots at springs. The streams are weak away from salient points.

Off Moul of Eswick: The north going stream begins at 1 hours and 35 minutes after high water at Lerwick. The south going stream begins at 4 hours and 25 minutes before high water at Lerwick. The stream is fairly strong. The area can be rough in easterly or south-easterly conditions.

North entrance to Lerwick Harbour: The north going stream begins at 1 hours and 30 minutes after high water at Lerwick. The south going stream begins at 4 hours before high water at Lerwick. The north going stream reaches a speed of 1.8 knots at springs. The south going stream reaches a speed of 1.9 knots at springs.

Lerwick Harbour: Tidal streams are less than 0.5 knots, except in the narrows at the northern entrance to the harbour in the vicinity of Sand Wick.

Noss Sound: The north going stream begins at 1 hours and 30 minutes after high water at Lerwick. The south going stream begins at 4 hours and 30 minutes before high water at Lerwick. The flow reaches a speed of 2 knots at springs.

East of Noss: The north going stream begins at 1 hours and 35 minutes after high water at Lerwick. The south going stream begins at 4 hours and 25 minutes before high water at Lerwick. The streams are reported to be strong.

Helli Ness to Ness of Trebister: The flow is continuously north-going.

Helli Ness: The north going stream begins at 6 hours after high water at Lerwick. The south going stream begins at 1 hours after high water at Lerwick. The flow reaches a speed of 1.5 knots at springs. The streams here are complex and can create rough conditions especially near Dedda Skerry.

Mousa Sound: The south south-east going stream begins at 1 hours and 40 minutes before high water at Lerwick. The north north-west going stream begins at 4 hours and 55 minutes after high water at Lerwick. The south south-east going stream reaches a speed of 1.2 knots at springs. The north north-west going stream reaches a speed of 1.4 knots at springs.

From Brough Head to Levenwick: The north going stream begins at 6 hours before high water at Lerwick. The south going stream begins at 1 hours after high water at Lerwick. The flow reaches a speed of 1 knots at springs.

Off Looss Laward, East of Sumburgh Head: The north north-east going stream begins at 5 hours and 20 minutes after high water at Lerwick. The south south-west going stream begins at 1 hours and 20 minutes before high water at Lerwick. The north north-east going stream reaches a speed of 1.1 knots at springs. The south south-west going stream reaches a speed of 0.8 knots at springs. A race can form off the point.

Sumburgh Head: The east going stream begins at 4 hours and 5 minutes before high water at Lerwick. The west going stream begins at 55 minutes after high water at Lerwick. The flow reaches a speed of 5 knots at springs. A substantial and violent tide race, Sumburgh Roost forms to the south of Sumburgh Head. However, this can be avoided inshore near the Head and by staying to the north of Horse Island.

North of Horse Island: The south-east going stream begins at 5 hours before high water at Lerwick. The north-west going stream begins at 2 hours after high water at Lerwick. Overfalls can form in this area.

Bay of Quendale eddy: An eddy flows clockwise around the bay during the west-going stream. The eddy flow leaves the bay around Lady's Holm. The area to the north of Lady's Holm can be turbulent.

South of Fair Isle: The south-east going stream begins at 5 hours and 35 minutes after high water at Aberdeen. The north-west going stream begins at 20 minutes before high water at Aberdeen. The south-east going stream reaches a speed of 4 knots at springs. The north-west going stream reaches a speed of 5 knots at springs. A tide race, known as 'the Roost of the Keels' extends 2.5 miles offshore.

North of Fair Isle: The south-east going stream begins at 5 hours and 35 minutes after high water at Aberdeen. The north-west going stream begins at 20 minutes before high water at Aberdeen. The south-east going stream reaches a speed of 4 knots at springs. The north-west going stream reaches a speed of 5 knots at springs. A tide race forms. The speed of the tide increases close to Fair Isle. Eddies form behind the island.

Between Fair Isle and Shetland: The east south-east going stream begins at 3 hours and 50 minutes before high water at Lerwick. The west north-west going stream begins at 2 hours and 15 minutes after high water at Lerwick. The flow reaches a speed of 2.4 knots at springs.

Fitful Head: Off Siggar Ness, and along the coast between Siggar Ness and The Nev: The south south-east going stream begins at 5 hours and 30 minutes before high water at Lerwick. The north north-west going stream begins at 1 hours and 15 minutes after high water at Lerwick. The south south-east going stream reaches a speed of 3 knots at springs. The north north-west going stream reaches a speed of 1.8 knots at springs. Conditions can be extremely rough especially with wind against tide, particularly around the points.

Little Havra: Although tidal streams are minimal here, shallows and offshore rocks mean the sea to the north and west is often confused.

Hamna Voe, SE Oxna: Tidal streams run swiftly across the entrance to the Voe.

West of Oxna: The west side of Oxna often has considerable swell if there is anything coming in from the west. This is especially true near the Steggies.

Point of the Pund, west of Scalloway: The north going stream begins at 30 minutes after high water at Lerwick. The south going stream begins at 6 hours after high water at Lerwick. The flow reaches a speed of 0.2 knots at springs.

Weisdale Voe: Tidal streams are negligible in the Voe.

Sandsound Voe: Tidal streams are negligible in the Voe.

Between Skelda Ness and Vaila: The south-east going stream begins at 3 hours before high water at Lerwick. The north-west going stream begins at 3 hours after high water at Lerwick. The streams are generally weak, but stronger off Skelda Ness and the south west coast of Vaila.

South west coast of Vaila: Between Strom Ness and Reitta Ness: The south-east going stream begins at 3 hours before high water at Lerwick. The north-west going stream begins at 3 hours after high water at Lerwick. The flow reaches a speed of 1.5 knots at springs.

Between Foula and Shetland: 5 mies ENE of Foula: The south-east going stream begins at 4 hours before high water at Lerwick. The north-west going stream begins at 2 hours and 15 minutes after high water at Lerwick. The flow reaches a speed of 1.3 knots at springs.

East of Da Sooth Ness, Foula: About 2 miles east of the southern point of Foula is an area of shallows called Hoevdi Grund. The south-east going stream begins at 3 hours and 55 minutes before high water at Lerwick. The north-west going stream begins at 2 hours and 5 minutes after high water at Lerwick. The flow reaches a speed of 2 knots at springs.

Stremness, Foula: The south-east going stream begins at 2 hours before high water at Lerwick. The north-west going stream begins at 3 hours after high water at Lerwick. The flow reaches a speed of 1.5 knots at springs. The sea off the point can be turbulent.

Between Papa Stour and the Ve Skerries: The tide flows south and north. This area can create a steep sea.

North west of Papa Stour: The north-east going stream begins at 3 hours and 30 minutes after high water at Lerwick. The south-west going stream begins at 4 hours before high water at Lerwick. The flow reaches a speed of 4 knots at springs. A race can form off the point with the subterranean passage, and the area between this and the Ve skerries can have steep seas.

Sound of Papa: The north-east going stream begins at 3 hours and 35 minutes after high water at Lerwick. The south-west going stream begins at 3 hours and 55 minutes before high water at Lerwick. The flow reaches a speed of 6 knots at springs.

North of the Brough Skerries: The tidal streams split and combine in the western half of St. Magnus Bay, to the north of the Brough Skerries, so that flows to the north of the Isle of West Burrafirth run in the opposite direction to those in the Sound of Papa. As a result of this, and the greater depths here, crossing to Papa Stour in the area to the east of the Sound avoids the strong flows experienced within the Sound of Papa.

North of the Isle of West Burrafirth: The streams here run in the opposite direction to those in the Sound of Papa. The east going stream begins at 3 hours and 50 minutes before high water at Lerwick. The west going stream begins at 3 hours and 50 minutes after high water at Lerwick. The times given are approximate.

South east of Vementry: In the gap between Uyea Sound and Cribba Sound The tide flows north-east and south-west. The flow is strong. The channel is shallow, around 1m deep, but does not dry.

Entrance to Swarbacks Minn: The tide flows east south-east and west north-west. The east south-east going stream reaches a speed of 3 knots at springs. The west north-west going stream reaches a speed of 2 knots at springs. Some sources suggest much lesser flows, closer to 0.5 knots. There is little tidal flow around most of the coast of Vementry or Muckle Roe. However, the north west tip and Swarbacks Skerry are exposed to swell and some tidal flow.

Gunnister Voe, North Sound: Overfalls can form to the north of the Isle of Gunnister.

Off Uyea: The north-east going stream begins at 5 hours and 30 minutes before high water at Lerwick. The south-west going stream begins at 1 hours after high water at Lerwick. The flow reaches a speed of 1 knots at springs. Flow may be faster in shallow areas close to the island. The streams can be avoided by portaging over sand on the inside of the island.

Point of Fethaland: The east south-east going stream begins at 4 hours before high water at Lerwick. The west north-west going stream begins at 2 hours after high water at Lerwick. The flow reaches a speed of 2 knots at springs. Much of the flow can be avoided by staying close inshore.

Notes

Lerwick Port Authority: The Port Authority can be reached on VHF channel 12, 24 hours a day. Bressay Sound can be a busy area, so contact them if passing through - they are friendly and very helpful.

Lerwick coastguard: The coastguard can be contacted on 01595 692976 or VHF channel 16.

Magnetic anomaly west of No Ness: There is a magnetic anomaly west of No Ness in the area of Leven Wick, Channer Wick, Hos Wick and Sand Wick. Compasses can be out by 15 degrees in this area.

Access/Egress

Lunnasting: (HU 480 654) g Car park next to church, adjacent to beach.

Bellister: (HU 479 604) g Small parking area near slipway.

Vassa: (HU 461 532) g Small parking area near the shoreline.

Wadbister: (HU 430 496) g It may be possible to leave a car on the verge near where the road comes close to the sea. There may also be space to park a car in the village just to the east.

Setter, Bressay: (HU 516 419) g Follow signs to 'Setter', following the road to a gate. Leave vehicles at the gate (small parking area), from where it is a short carry beside a stream to the sea, or a longer carry to a small beach.

Lerwick Sletts: (HU 473 410) g Concrete slipway in small bay. Roadside parking nearby.

Gulberwick: (HU 443 387) g Gate and stile at end of track leading on to beach. Park at end of track by ruined house, or in layby where the track leaves the main road.

East Voe of Quarff: (HU 433 351) g A track leads down to the foreshore.

Aith Voe east: (HU 442 288) g Parking possible on the verge before the marina is reached, where boat trailers are sometimes parked. This is adjacent to a beach. The harbour at the west side of the Voe is likely a better option.

Aith Voe west: (HU 438 284) g Small harbour with slipway, good sized parking area.

South Voxter: (HU 433 279) g Large parking area by cemetery, close to the sea.

Wick of Sandsayre: (HU 436 249) g Possible to drop boats by the slipway. Parking just to the west, beyond the spaces reserved for boat trip passengers.

Sandwick: (HU 433 237) g Small bay behind the village. Parking adjacent to the cemetery.

Cumlewick: (HU 424 230) g Slipway at bottom of industrial estate. Cars might be left on gravel nearby.

Hoswick: (HU 417 238) g Space to park one or two cars at the end of the track leading to the beach.

Levenwick: (HU 413 213) g Small parking area at road end. A short sandy path leads to the beach.

Outvoe: (HU 397 153) g Several pulls offs along the road that runs along the shore on both the north-east and south-west sides of the bay.

Eastshore marina: (HU 401 113) g Ramp leading onto beach just before marina. Should be plenty of space to leave a car out of the way.

Grutness beach: (HU 403 099) g Small layby with path leading to beach.

Grutness pier: (HU 405 101) g Large parking area next to the pier and a boulder beach.

North Haven, Fair Isle: (HZ 225 726) g This is the main landing point on Fair Isle and the most sheltered. In northerly winds, South Haven may be easier.

West Voe of Sumburgh: (HU 393 103) g Parking area and picnic site next to a sandy track leading to the beach.

Scatness Broch: (HU 389 106) g Just south of the runway crossing lights, there is a small parking area from which a steep path leads to a beach.

The Cooss: (HU 367 178) g Space for one car next to a small building, from which it is a short carry to the bay. The launch point in the adjacent Bay of Scousburgh is likely preferable.

Bay of Scousburgh: (HU 371 180) g Small parking area at the end of a gravel track by the beach.

St Ninians Beach: (HU 375 209) g Parking area with track leading 150m to the beach, from which it is possible to launch either to the north into Bigton Wick or the south into St Ninians Bay.

Ireland Wick: (HU 376 216) g It may be possible to leave a car here near the end of the road, from which it is a short carry to the sea. St. Ninians bay, just to the south, is likely a better option.

Maywick: (HU 377 247) g A track leads from the narrow road through the village to the beach. However, there is nowhere to leave a car nearby. There may be space for a single vehicle in a small pull off around 500m south of the village.

Banna Minn: (HU 367 307) g Parking at Minn Beach car park at Duncansclett, 300m carry down a track to the beach.

Duncansclett east: (HU 369 313) g The road runs near a small bay, boats might be dropped off quickly at a small passing place. Park at Minn Beach car park, 300m to the north.

Bridgend Outdoor Centre: (HU 373 332) g Parking area with slipway, small fee to launch, £1 in 2021, payable at honesty box or by Paypal - see website

Toogs, West Burra: (HU 376 336) g Limited parking near pier. Launching may be awkward - it is likely better to use the Bridgend outdoor centre just to the south.

Sand of Meal: (HU 375 353) g Good sized car park, with public toilets. From here, a good path leads 300m down to the beach.

Hamnavoe: (HU 369 358) g Plenty of parking near pier and slipway.

Ux Ness: (HU 384 357) g Small pier with ramp to the water. Likely possible to leave a car or two nearby, being careful to keep out of the way of fishing and other local industry.

Scalloway, East Voe: (HU 408 395) g North of the Marina, there are several lay-bys and pull-offs where a car could be left near the water. The Voe dries from around 100m north of the north end of the marina car park.

Scalloway, Port Arthur: (HU 398 391) g Slipway at the south end of the Marina, parking nearby.

Head of Whiteness Voe: (HU 397 460) g Gravel parking area near a ramp down to the beach.

Hellister: (HU 389 504) g Jetty next to gravel beach. Parking just off the road and in a gravel area 100m north.

Tresta Voe: (HU 357 514) g Pier and slipway (Tresta Boating and Fishing club). Layby adjacent, with alternative parking options just to the west along the road. Large layby at The Nav, 600m west.

Sand, Sand Voe: (HU 347 473) g Large gravel area at end of road by the foreshore

Redayre: (HU 330 456) g May be space to leave a car near the beach

Rea Wick: (HU 330 446) g Space to park one or two cars near the beach

Easter Skeld: (HU 313 448) g Slipway by the pier. It should be possible to leave a car nearby.

Westerwick: (HU 284 426) g Small parking area at the end of the road. 200m carry from here to the sea.

Bridge of Walls: (HU 261 511) g Small pull off from the road, a short carry from the sea. You may need to carry slightly further at low water.

Walls: (HU 241 493) g Walls offers a number of launching options. The simplest place for parking is likely at the west end of the village south of the church.

Burrastow: (HU 223 480) g Pier and shingle beach. It should be possible to park nearby.

Dale of Walls: (HU 174 523) g A rough track leads down to a parking area by a shingle beach.

Melby: (HU 187 579) g Parking area by public toilets with slipway.

Bousta: (HU 222 576) g Space to leave a car at the end of the public road, close to the beach.

West Burrafrith: (HU 255 568) g Slipway and access to shingle beach near the ferry pier. Possible to leave a car on the verge, or in the the area to the west of the piers.

Brindister: (HU 282 578) g Pier by beach, with public access and space to park.

Vementry: (HU 309 597) g Fish farming shore base. The operators allow kayaks to launch here, but cars should be left outside the gate. There is a small pull off near a cattle grid 200m south east of the gate. Brindister may be a better option.

Aith: (HU 347 559) g Slipway near lifeboat station, parking nearby.

Voe, Olna Firth: (HU 406 631) g Parking near pier, or alternatively by the road just to the east.

Foula Wick, Olna Firth: (HU 368 650) g It may be possible to leave a car near the end of the road, close to the sea.

Brae Marina: (HU 351 678) g Slipway near Sub Aqua Club and Boating Club, plenty of parking.

Muckle Roe Bridge: (HU 341 661) g Small parking area to the north end of the bridge with space for one or two cars. Access to water through gate or slipway in quay area opposite. Roe Sound Marina, just to the west, is likely far easier.

Roe Sound Marina: (HU 339 663) g Slipway, gravel area for parking.

Mavis Grind west: (HU 340 684) g Small roadside parking area, less than 100m carry to the sea. Easy portage to Sullom Voe.

Head of Mangaster Voe: (HU 337 695) g Large gravel area by roadside, carry down to head of loch or small quay.

Rockville: (HU 305 732) g End of the road comes close to the sea. May be possible to leave a car on verge or on a wide area at the end of the public road - perhaps ask at the house. The Gunnister Voe put in may be better?

Gunnister Voe: (HU 309 737) g Gravel track leading down to the sea, may be space to park at the end.

Urafirth: (HU 296 786) g Slipway and pier. Small pull off by the road for one or two cars.

Hillswick east: (HU 282 770) g Small parking area by the beach to the north of the bay, accessed by small roads through the village.

Hillswick west: (HU 280 771) g Parking at the small car park in the village (Hillswick east). A 300m carry from here takes you to the bay to the west. Head west along the road, turn right and locate a gate on a corner in the road. 200m walk from here to the bay.

Tangwick: (HU 230 776) g A track leads down to the beach from beside the Tangwick museum. It may be possible to park on the verge by the beach, or failing that at the museum.

Stenness: (HU 214 771) g Parking area at end of road. Short walk via gate or stile to a shingle beach.

Braehoulland: (HU 238 797) g Commercial pier. Parking may be a little easier (but still very limited) near the ends of the public roads to the east or west.

The Blade, Ronas Voe: (HU 292 809) g An unmarked road leads down to a sandy beach - may be space for a small number of vehicles at the end.

Sandvoe: (HU 363 908) g The road comes close to the sea by a cemetery. Space to park here on both sides of the road.

Suggested trips

Noss: The paddle around Bressay and Noss is a good trip that might be done in 2 days from the Lerwick area or Gulber Wick. Contact the Lerwick Harbourmaster if passing through Bressay Sound - this area can be busy with cruise ships and boats associated with the oil industry. We found them very helpful and friendly. Alternatively, launch from Setter for a shorter paddler around Noss. The island is a nature reserve, and the wardens are based near the ferry landing. Bird life seems to be everywhere on Noss, but the colonies that congregate on the cliffs to the east of the island are especially spectacular. Tides are weak away from the narrows of Noss Sound, but a steep sea can form to the south east of the island.

Mousa: Mousa can be reached by a short crossing from Wick of Sandsayre, or included in a longer trip. The island is well worth a visit, especially in the bird breeding season. Make time to visit the Broch, which is the best preserved in Scotland. If possible, visit at nightfall when the Storm Petrels return in large numbers to their nests in the walls of the Broch. The island has many ground nesting birds, so keep to the paths and walkways. Camping is possible for a small group near the ferry pier.

Papa Stour: For those keen on rockhopping, Papa Stour is unmissable. Those wanting to explore every inlet, cave and arch will find their progress round the island very slow indeed, especially along the west coast. Some of the deeper caves and tunnels require a head torch. Fogla and Lyra skerries are worth visiting, both having been tunnelled through by the sea. However, the most spectacular underground passage is through the northern tip of Papa Stour itself. Note that conditions can be very different in the area to the north of Lyra and Fogla Skeery compared to those to the south.

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