The Burn of Valayre, Delting, Shetland.
It strikes me that despite having children, I’ve never really written about things to see and do with them, so in this blog, I’ll share a short walk to do with kids. Many of the trails that I write about are long and involve carrying tired legs for a part, or all, of the way – great if you want to build muscle, not so great if you want to relax and soak in the scenery.
Here in Shetland, we are just heading into the second week of the October holidays, where more and more, as parents, we begin to run out of ideas for things to do to occupy our little monkeys. Hopefully this blog will give you a new idea and inspire you to pack a picnic and head out for a few much-needed hours outside.
Burn of Valayre walk
The Burn of Valayre is a perfect place to spend an afternoon and have a picnic lunch or tea. It’s a short walk, ideally suited to peerie (small) legs – with plenty to entertain and distract them with when they do get tired! Just a short distance from the main road, you soon feel like you are miles into the hills, away from all civilisation.
To get to the Burn of Valayre, follow the roadsigns for Brae (A970), then turn onto the B9076 towards Sullom Voe. Follow this road for a few miles, and just before you reach Voxter Outdoor Centre, there is a small clump of shrubby trees on the right, and a gate signposted ‘Burn of Valayre’.
Native trees planted by Shetland Amenity Trust. The Burn of Valayre is an SSSI.
The first thing that you’ll see is the fantastic array of shrubs and trees that have been planted up the burn as part of the Shetland Woodland’s scheme, a tree-planting enterprise managed by the Shetland Amenity Trust. The species here are alder, aspen, birch, hazel, rowan and willow – all native to the islands, and at one time would have provided a substantial ground-covering. For Shetland bairns, less familiar with trees, this is an excellent place to bring a tree identification guide!
Shetland has no large waterways or rivers found in other parts of the world; instead, we have burns, or streams, that course through the hills connecting lochs, bogs and generally terminating in the sea. Some of these burns are tiny – the kind that the unsuspecting walker might lose a foot in – others, like the Hoswick Burn in the South Mainland, meander more gently. Some, like the Burn of Valayre, are steep-sided, carved out by fast-flowing water under pressure beneath the ice when it melted during the last period of glaciation about 10,000 years ago.
Relict examples of rowan, dogrose and honeysuckle in the Burn of Valayre, Shetland.
The burn of Valayre is a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to its hectare of native trees and the relict examples of rowan, dogrose and honeysuckle that cling bravely to the steep-slopes further up the burn.
After crossing a small stile, one of the first impressive features you reach is an impressive waterfall that plunges into a deep pool – a perfect spot for a quick dip if you’re feeling brave enough to try the cool water which has coursed down from its various tributaries from the surrounding hills.
A rough path leads up the burn, at points requiring crossing to the other side to get a better route – so remember to wear rubber boots! Several gravel-beaches have built up in various parts with glistening stones that glisten silver and gold – our bairns were sure they were onto gold (I didn’t correct them). The shiny stone comes from the Valayre gneiss that outcrops in this area, along a geographical boundary fault. Valayre Gneiss is a metamorphic rock – a 925 million-year-old band of rock that has been transformed by heat and pressure and contains unusual and distinctive large crystals (megacrysts) of feldspar.
When little legs started protesting, we picked a flat, sunny spot beside the water and sat down to our picnic tea. We brought a portable stove, a packet of Scalloway Meat Company sausages and some Sandwick Bakery buns – the perfect supper to enjoy with a cup of tea as the bairns splashed and searched for ‘gold’.
Until next time,
“Visitors want to have the best experience; they want to see Shetland through the eyes of a local. They want to taste the salt on their faces, smell the sea and bear witness to the wind in their hair. They want to drink in the sights, the smells and the sounds of an island community. They want to be shown the places they would otherwise not discover. They want to piece together the fascinating jigsaw and truly discover Shetland; this is the trip they have dreamed of.”
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.