Noss National Nature Reserve



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Noss NNR is a seabird city off the east coast of Shetland, with thousands of breeding seabirds inhabiting its soaring sandstone cliffs. In spring and summer, its noisy citizens include gannets, guillemots, fulmars and kittiwakes, which seem to occupy every available nook and cranny on the beetling eastern cliffs. Marauding great skuas (locally known as bonxies) nest further inland, and aggressively dive-bomb their victims, which can also include the unfortunate birdwatching visitor. The coastal path to the cliffs meanders through colourful patches of flower-filled grassland, and might just give you a view of a passing porpoise or otter. Humans have influenced Noss for over 4,000 years and farming has been an important part of the island for generations. Today, 350 ewes and the island rabbits help to keep Noss in good condition for ground-nesting birds such as skylarks, ringed plovers and wheatears, showing how agriculture and wildlife can happily coexist.

Noss National Nature Reserve


About the area

Discover Shetland

Shetland, with a population of around 24,000, is Britain’s most northerly point, lying as close to the Faroes and Bergen in Norway as it does to Aberdeen. Its place on northern trade routes has given it an unusually cosmopolitan air, and a culture that is more Viking than Scottish. There’s a rich heritage of skilled knitting, and a vibrant tradition of fiddle music which has been exported around the world. 

The landscape of these islands is wild and rugged, with low hills, exposed rock and peaty, waterlogged moorland. According to Scottish Natural Heritage, Shetland has nearly 250 miles of cliffs, a fifth of Scotland’s total. Winters are stormy and few trees survive the wind, but the wild flowers in summer are spectacular, and nowhere is farther than 5 miles from the sea. Seals and porpoises are common sights around the coastline, and thousands of nesting seabirds. The capital is the harbour town of Lerwick, on the east side of the main island, Mainland. Scalloway, west of Lerwick, was the medieval heart of the island, and is dominated by its ruined castle, built in 1600. The other islands are also worth exploring if you have time; all are linked by ferry.

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Places to Stay

Dining nearby

Restaurants and Pubs

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