Safety Tips in Shetland

  • Don't assume there'll be space when you arrive!
    Don't assume there'll be space when you...
    by leics
  • It's not always like this, even in summer!
    It's not always like this, even in...
    by leics
  • High Cliffs
    High Cliffs
    by Rainman24

Most Viewed Warnings and Dangers in Shetland

  • leics's Profile Photo

    Be wary walking the cliffs.

    by leics Written Aug 20, 2011

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    One of the wonders of Shetland is spending time walking its beautiful cliffs, watching the myriad seabirds and whale/porpoise/seal-spotting.

    But be wary. Although the turf is springy and comfortable to walk upon, Shetland has an awful lot of rabbits. Their holes are not always easy to see, even on the short springy turf, and it's far too easy to trip, or to turn or break your ankle.

    The short springy turf, as well as being comfortable to walk, is extremely slippery when wet or even damp. So make sure your boots/shoes have good grips...cliff turf often slopes gently towards the sea. :-(

    There are blowholes along some parts of the coast too (mostly in Northmavine). Although these are large, it would be easy enough to miss the edge if you were walking with your eyes to your binoculars.

    But, most of all, be wary of the wind. Walking cliffs on a windy day is a wonderfully exhilarating experience, but getting too near the edge may mean it is the last such experience you will have. This does happen; I am not exaggerating.

    Don't be tempted, even on an almost-windless day, to go right to the edge. If you're desperate to see right over the cliff then lie down and approach the edge on your stomach...but make very sure first that you are not lying on an unsupported overhang!

    You can minimise the risks by behaving in an appropriate manner and respecting nature...but you should not ignore it. The risks are real, as too many have found out to their cost.

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  • leics's Profile Photo

    Don't underestimate the weather.

    by leics Written Aug 20, 2011

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    Really...don't.

    Don't think we in the UK exaggerate about its changeability. We don't. You really *can* have all 4 seasons in one day here, and especially so in Shetland.

    Don't underestimate the effect of windchill. Shetland is very exposed, with little outside central Lerwick to break the wind or provide shelter. So although air temperatures may be reasonable the wind can make it feel several degrees colder...and a day without wind in Shetland is a rare day indeed.

    And even if the day has been mild, temperatures will drop after the sun sets (even in the height of summer, when the sun barely sets at all).

    So do pack those clothes-you-can-layer, and the warmer waterproof, and the hat/scarf/gloves. You'll be glad you did! :-)

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  • leics's Profile Photo

    Book well in advance!

    by leics Updated Aug 20, 2011

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    Shetland has very limited accommodation options and a lot of visitors in the summer months (think July and August, in the main).

    If, like me, you want to visit in those months (when Scottish schools and, a bit later, English schools are on holiday) you need to book really early to get what you want in a location which suits you. I booked my mid-August accommodation in early March and even then found the first two places I tried were full for my dates.

    Visiting earlier and later may not pose quite such a problem, but remember how popular Shetland is with birdwatchers..the spring months are also very busy.

    It's the only place I have ever booked my accommodation before my flight, and I suggest you do so too (having first checked out flights and being ready to book them as soon as accommodation is confirmed).

    Shetland is really *not* a place to visit 'on spec' in the summer months. The owner of my b&b told me of regularly turning away people in tears, or furiously angry (with each other)...and of one poor chap who had planned to cycle the islands yet could not get accommodation outside Lerwick. His plans were ruined.

    So, plan ahead. Use the tourist information website to check what is available, and make your booking as soon as you've found what you want.

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  • ange_famine's Profile Photo

    The wind is REALLY strong

    by ange_famine Written Feb 7, 2009

    You may have read a few books or articles about how strong the wind is in all parts of Shetland. This is NOT an exaggeration. Always be aware of the weather forecast before you decide to go out, especially in the open.

    The wind is so strong it can break chimneys, there are no trees on the island and I've seen it push an entire line of trolleys while I was stuck inside the supermarket.

    My experience is, though, that if you are spotted walking on the side of the road and the weather is bad, somebody will always stop and give you a lift.

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  • Rainman24's Profile Photo

    Males and Felmales!

    by Rainman24 Written Apr 12, 2005

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    After a few beers and you are finding yourself merry, remember others are out and merry too.

    Sometimes you might be merry enough to say... change clothes with female friends and go out.. (Does my bum look big?)

    When your vision is slipping remember to talk to them first as if it is a Deep voice you should take a closer look, vice versa for wimen, though you may actually be looking and the converse is true... I have confused myself!... Just dont drink too much :op

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  • Rainman24's Profile Photo

    Dont stand too close to cliffs!

    by Rainman24 Written Apr 3, 2005

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    shetland can have gusty winds, so keep away from the edge, also some types of birds are verry territorial and you could get dived bombed by a bonksie (blackback seagull- wingspan 6 ft) They have also been known to attack lambs...

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  • foulai's Profile Photo

    Take care on the Edge !

    by foulai Updated Jul 10, 2003

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    Foula's coastline is made up of high , steep,sheer rocky cliffs that fall into the sea.
    The local people will all warn you not to go too near the edge....as the grassy upper slopes gently fall away and if it is wet you could slip over.
    just exercise caution ....but enjoy this rugged coastline.

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Shetland Warnings and Dangers

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