Gateway to the Northern Isles - Yell


Blanket peat covers much of the island, providing a globally rare but important wildlife habitat.
This peat is formed from the compression of dead (but not decomposed) plant remains and forms at the rate of 1mm a year. In places this peat is over 3 metres in depth (3,000 years).


In summer, Yell's moorlands are alive with breeding birds. Whimbrel, red throated divers, dunlin and golden plover can all be seen from the roadside. The sharp eyed observer may catch a glimpse of Britain's smallest bird of prey the merlin, as it dashes after small birds.

Great skuas or bonxies as they are locally known, Arctic skuas, and eider duck, also nest on the moorland.

The West Road:

From Ulsta the main road follows the coastline, with fine views across Yell Sound with the Ramna Stacks silhoutted in the far north.

The Ness of Sound, just over the hill from Ulsta, is easily recognised with its distinctive double tombolo. Further up the coast the little village a West Sandwick provides one of the best sandy beaches in the isles.

The North:

A most enjoyable day can be spent at the Sands of Breckon. Sheltered, except from the north, this lovely beach with its extensive area of blown shell sand has interesting traces of Viking and earlier occupation.

Gloup in Cullivoe was once a station for the haaf fishing and a memorial at the spot, to 58 fishermen who lost their lives in a summer storm in 1881, serves as a grim reminder of how dangerous the fishery was.

As you travel south from Cullivoe, you will come to Gutcher, the terminal for the ferries to Unst and Fetlar.

The East Road:

On the shores of Otterswick be sure to look out for the White Wife, the figure head from the German training ship Bohus which was wrecked nearby in 1924.
Further south the village of Burravoe contains a museum and exhibition centre housed in the Old Haa. The centre contains many items of interest including the photographic collection of internationally famous naturalist Bobby Tulloch.

Sea Mammals:

Yell is one of the best places in Europe to see otters (dratsi). This is why Hugh Miles chose to film his award-winning documentary film, "On the track of the wild otter" here.

Yell is popular with otters because of the rich food supplies in the offshore shallows, a low peaty coastline for excavating holts and abundant fresh water for bathing, so as to clean off salt water.
Most local folk have met an otter on the road at some time, so please Drive Carefully!

With luck, the sea watcher might also spot whales and dolphins, such as the pilot whale, killer whale or harbour porpoise. Remember to keep an eye out for these and seabirds as you cross on the ferry.
Wind House Lodge Camping Böd Sketch
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