Looking across Burravoe campsite, pier and marina, Yell.
It seems a little strange to be writing about our summer holidays as the first of the autumn equinox storms pass through. I’m sitting in the office in an oversized cardigan cupping a steaming hot mug of tea, listening to the wind gathering strength outside. But, for now, I will transport back to the first week of the school holidays and another brilliant trip to the North Isles. As soon as school broke for summer, we jumped on the ferry – with my grandparent’s caravan in tow – and headed to Yell and Unst. This blog will focus on caravanning in the North Isles and is a purely practical guide.
Burrafirth, Unst, looking towards Saxa Vord.
Shetland has many campsites that are affordable, friendly and well-equipped with good hook-ups, showers and information for guests. Our first stop was the Burravoe campsite, just a few miles north-east of the Ulsta ferry. We then went on to Uyeasound in Unst where we stayed at Gardiesfauld Hostel, Caravan and Campsite.
This blog will take you through the campsites of Yell and Unst. Fetlar that makes up the trio of North Isles has no designated campsite at the moment, but the community are trying to develop one so look out for that in the future. Plans are also afoot in Unst to install another campsite in Baltasound.
Looking across to Heoga Ness and the former Methodist Chapel, Burravoe, Yell.
Getting to Shetland with a motorhome or caravan:
Getting to Shetland with a motorhome or caravan is easy as you only have one option: Ferry.
Two ferries operate the route between Aberdeen and Lerwick, leaving each port every evening and making the 12-14 hour crossing overnight before landing in their respective ports at 7.30 am. The ferry is operated by NorthLink Ferries, and you can find out more and book here.
Inter Island ferry to Unst and Fetlar in Shetland's North Isles. Traditional boats in the foreground.
Getting to the North Isles:
Shetland has excellent internal links operated by the Shetland Islands Council, including a fleet of inter-island ferries that run between nine of the 16 inhabited islands. Ferries to Yell and Unst are very frequent, and booking is not always necessary, but if travelling with a caravan or motorhome it is recommended. You can view ferry timetables and book here.
Coastal views in Yell. Follow walk signposted 'Neapaback' from the Burravoe campsite, Yell.
Caravanning is a perfect way to see Shetland, and with 23 designated caravan sites, it’s an excellent way to see as much of the isles as possible. Most of the sites can accommodate campers, motorhomes or caravans, and it allows you the opportunity to pick the pace and travel around at a rate that suits you. Caravanning allows you total control of your holiday.
Burravoe Pier Trust Caravan and Campsite
Burravoe prices are very reasonable:
Motorhomes and caravans: £10 a night (8 touring pitches available)
Tents: £4 a night (4 pitches available)
Contact: Tel: +44 (0)1957 722315 or +44 (0)1957 722355 (although booking is not required)
Burravoe campsite, Yell.
There is no need to book; you roll up – literally – hook up and leave the money in an envelope inside the facilities building (it runs on an honesty basis). The site at Burravoe has thoughtful amenities, the building itself is made like a traditional boat-house with an upturned lifeboat from the SS Canberra forming the roof. Inside there are toilets, showers and laundry facilities as well as plenty of local information about Yell and beyond.
The campsite is sheltered and clean, overlooking Heoga Ness and the ruins of the first Methodist chapel built in Yell in 1827. The pier and marina are busy with local aquaculture boats and small pleasure crafts that use the sheltered marina.
The site offers hard standing for caravans and motorhomes, and there is a grassed area where tents can pitch. The site is on a bit of a slope towards the sea, so I would recommend that you bring your cheese wedges and a spirit level with you to level up.
6 ideas for your stay at Burravoe with children.
I’ve written about Yell already after a brilliant stay at Varda self-catering (which you can read about here) and no doubt we’ll be back again soon.
Gardiesfauld Hostel, Caravan and Campsite
Gardiesfauld prices are more expensive than Burravoe but still reasonable:
Motorhomes and caravans: £20 a night (5 touring pitches available)
Tents: £8 adults (£4 children) a night (27 pitches available)
Staying in the Hostel: £16 adults (£9 children) a night (35 beds available)
Contact: Tel: +44 (0)1957 755279 (booking is essential as this is a busy site)
Caravan site at Uyeasound, Unst.
After a few days in Yell, it was time to move on to Uyeasound in Unst. This is a site that we visit year after year. You really can’t beat the location – right on the shore with the waves lapping on the sandy beach and views across to Uyea Isle.
It’s crucial to book this site as it gets very busy during the summer months. And more often than not, there is not enough space to meet the demand. The site is linked to Gardiesfauld Hostel, a house gifted to the community and operated as a hostel ever since.
The hostel offers excellent value. Guests have access to the kitchen, dining room, lounge, conservatory, coin-operated laundry, showers (coin-operated) and bedrooms with en suite facilities.
The site itself has hard standing, plug-in electric and every pitch has enough space for an awning and/or vehicle parking. The site is flat making it easier to level up motorhomes, and there are public toilets.
6 ideas for your stay at Uyeasound with children.
Unst offers endless opportunities for a holiday but to get you started, read my blog about a walk to the most northerly point; Hermaness. You can read that here.
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