Camping & Caravanning

by Steve Mathieson

Photo: Joe Barrie Zoom Photo: Joe Barrie With over a hundred islands and measuring a hundred miles from tip to tip, Shetland is an archipelago of wonderful variety and what better way to explore it than by taking your accommodation with you? Bringing your caravan or campervan to Shetland is a very straightforward affair, with NorthLink sailings from Aberdeen each evening, while those carrying backpacks and tents have the quicker option of flying with Loganair.

Once here you will find that the roads infrastructure is excellent, the main arteries being generally free-flowing with none of the negativity that is sometimes directed towards caravans on the roads of the British mainland. The smaller single-track roads are also easily negotiable, though you should remember to use the numerous passing-places to allow both oncoming and faster-moving vehicles from behind to pass.

Fifteen of Shetland’s islands are inhabited; seven of them served by ferries that allow the transport of caravans and motorhomes, with advance booking advised on all Shetland’s internal ferries except the frequent Bressay service.

Photo: Alastair Hamilton Zoom Photo: Alastair Hamilton There are nine registered camping and caravanning sites, from Uyeasound in Unst, Britain’s most northerly isle, to picturesque Levenwick in the south mainland. The sites are all strategically situated, giving the best possible opportunities for exploring the different areas and for gaining a deeper appreciation of all that Shetland has to offer. 

Camping and caravanning is a wonderful way of getting away from it all, leaving the stresses and strains at home and keeping a good distance from the thronging masses. Conversely, it can also be a very social experience; many of the sites have areas where you can get together with fellow campers to share a tale or two. Most of the sites are run by volunteers and are very much part of the community so you are also likely to meet some friendly locals.

All sites are attractively positioned with modern facilities, some close to the foreshore such as Gardiesfauld in Unst, some on the waterfront, or near to marinas such as Burravoe in Yell, Delting in the north Mainland, Skeld in the west, Bridge End in Burra and Cunningsburgh in the south. Braewick in the northwest Mainland has dramatic views of cliffs and sea stacks, South Nesting in the east Mainland is surrounded by beautiful countryside and Levenwick has a panoramic view over sea, cliffs and beach.

Photo: Alastair Hamilton Zoom Photo: Alastair Hamilton Camping is also available on the island of Papa Stour, while Whalsay has camping facilities plus hook-ups for caravans as well as Britain’s most northerly golf course! Shetland also has a network of nine Camping Böds (the name Böd originating from a building used seasonally by fishermen in times gone past) which offer basic accommodation for a basic price.

Wild camping in a tent is legal in Shetland and gives the possibility of staying in some truly spectacular and out of the way spots, though you should always stick to the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and call in at the nearest dwelling to make sure that all is fine.

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