I recently posted our summer holiday bucket list; basically, a list of all the places we want to visit and things we’d like to do at home this summer. I included a checklist for anyone who wanted to join in the fun, and today we ticked off one from the list – a walk to the Brigs of Vementry.
To get to the Brigs of Vementry, follow the A970 from Lerwick, turning onto the A971 at Tingwall. Drive for 16 miles before taking the B9071 towards Aith and Voe. After three miles, take the turn towards Vementry (just after Michaelswood in Aith) and drive almost to the end of the road where you’ll find a cattle grid with a waymarker that says “Path to Clousta”.
The walk is one of Shetland’s core paths and access routes, and there is a rough path from the road, all the way to da Brigs. Da Brigs is an old stone causeway that crosses the sea halfway between Vementry and Clousta. You may be fooled into thinking that this is a long walk – indeed, driving from Clousta to Vementry would probably take you longer than the walk. Driving between these two points would take you about 15 minutes over eight miles of winding single-track roads, but the hike we did was just over three miles, and we walked beyond da Brigs and over the hill to Clousta.
It’s a beautiful walk over open moorland, and with the wildflowers out in force with bog cotton, ragged robins, lady’s smock and tormentil blanketing the ground in white, pink and yellow, so too were the native Shetland bees. Shetland bumblebees are essential pollinators and common across a variety of habitats in Shetland. It’s a distinct subspecies, identifiable by its completely orange thorax and yellowish abdomen.
This was the route that school children took to get to school in Clousta from Vementry and the postman also used it to deliver the mail on foot between Vementry and Clousta. Da Brigs is a stunning stone causeway and dry stone wall, with a wooden gate allowing access over the causeway. The stone walls ensure that sheep remain on the right side of the water.
We had a picnic at the top of the hill from da Brigs, enjoying views over Clousta and back towards Vementry before heading around the Ness of Clousta. The landscape here is a very different coastal landscape to other parts of the exposed North Atlantic coast. This coastline is dominated by voes [inlets], not dissimilar to the sweeping fjords of Scandinavia. This area is one of the most sheltered parts of the western coastline, with the OS map showing a range of voes and sounds fed by the North Atlantic near Vementry Isle. The rocks on the shore here are more jagged underfoot and less worn by the power of the sea, and beachcombing windfalls are fewer, and there are little pockets of saltwater marsh where the raging winter sea never breaks.
The surrounding hills are dominating, and it feels like a very remote place, despite being so close to the settlements of Clousta and Vementry. It’s also a place that has long been inhabited, with the remains of an Iron Age broch sitting on the water’s edge at Noonsbrough in Clousta and numerous field boundary markers from Neolithic times dotted across the landscape. It’s difficult not to reflect on the lives of those who walked these landscapes thousands of years before us.
The landscape itself is a dedicated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSI) for its geology, formed some 390 million years ago and consisting of Old Red Sandstone Clousta conglomerate and volcanic tuff rings (a product of a volcanic eruption, basically).
We had a fantastic walk, a gentle two-and-a-half-hour walk with four children across three-and-a-half miles with one thermos and a picnic – the perfect way to kick off the summer holiday bucket list.
Feel free to download the checklist from the blog and remember to tag #shetlandwithlaurie #summerholidaybucketlist in your adventures!
Until next time,
A little about Laurie
Hello, and welcome to my blog. I hope that you find what you're looking for, whether you are planning that perfect holiday or maybe you're from Shetland and looking for some inspiration. Hopefully, there is something here for everyone.