You will have to pass through Mavis Grind if you are coming from anywhere in Shetland mainland other than Northmavine.
It's the narrow strip of land which joins Northmavine to the rest of Shetland mainland, with the Atlantic on one side and the North Sea on the other. Both sides are voes (inlets) so you don't really get the feeling that you are by the open sea.
There's a good parking place right by the narrowest part (on the Atlantic side), and useful information boards as well. Walk through the gate and you'll be able to see the remains of WW2 tank traps on the Atlantic side, and read a really useful explanation about the geology of Northmavine.
rRght up to the 1950s fishermen would carry their boats across this bit of land rather than sail all the way round. I took a photo of the photo on the display board.
Keep walking and you'll come to a disused quarry where you can see the geology clearly exposed...stunning place.
Mavis Grind is also an excellent spot for otter-spotting (there's a road sign warning of otters crossing!) and bird-watching.
Don't just drive by!
It's worth visiting Hillswick just to see the rather magnificent St Magnus Bay Hotel.
This wooden-clad building was built in 1900 by the operators of the North of Scotland, Orkney & Shetland Steam Navigation Co which ran ferries from Orkney to this part of Shetland for a while...from before there were actually any roads to Hillswick!
It's still a lovely building, now painted a glowing amber-colour (being steam-cleaned, I think, when I visited..hence the scaffolding). I might just consider spending a few nights there on my return visit.
Hillswick has a lovely little harbour and super views over the Voe and beyond. Worth considering it as your base for exploring Northmavine, and certainly worth a short visit (if only to see the peacock!).
The broch of Houlland looks out over the Loch of Houlland, a small expanse of water fairly near the Eshaness car park and lighthouse.
You'll see the trail clearly marked on the information board at the car park, and it's easy to find your way (as long as it's not foggy). There are a few signposts as well.
Brochs date from the Iron Age (about 2500 years ago) and are only found in Scotland and the northern isles. They form a 'chain' around the Shetland and Orkney coastlines.
They are wonderful constructions of stone, with double walls through which a staircase winds, and certainly stood much, much higher than what we can now see. The broch on Mousa still stands over 13m high and is the best example.
No-one is really sure what brochs were for, but it is assumed that they provided an easily-defended home or base.
This one is linked by two causeways (one under water now) to a nearby island.
There isn't a massive choice about where to eat in the Eshaness area, but this little cafe really is very pleasant indeed.
It has wonderful views across the sea, a camping and caravan site, wooden 'wigwams' for hire and local handicafts for sale.
I didn't eat there but the coffee I had was excellent and the cakes looked very tempting (I didn't succumb). They serve full meals as well.
Sit inside and you are in a clean, comfortable place with sofas as well as ordinary tables and chairs...and superb views through the large windows.
Sit outside and you'll have superb scenery all around as well as an explanation of the underlying geology, courtesy of a rather good display and an excellent table incorporating a geological map (see photos).
Well worth stopping on your way to or from Eshaness lighthouse and your long walk along the cliffs. :-)