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Project to improve Shetland nature reserve ‘great news’ for tourism

Seabird watching.
Seabird watching.

A new hill path has been officially opened at a nature reserve in Shetland.

Visitors to Hermaness National Nature Reserve on Unst can now take in the views from a new mile-long boardwalk.

It retraces the historic path to Muckle Flugga signalling station on Hermaness Hill, and creates a circular route around the reserve.

The boardwalk will protect peatland from erosion and has been routed to avoid disturbance to rare nesting birds.

Work has also been carried out at the visitor hub in the car park, including a new information shelter and toilets.

Enhance visitors’ experiences

Steve Mathieson, VisitScotland development manager for Shetland, said the new path would give visitors some “spectacular views”.

“The Hermaness project is a great example of an initiative that enhances the visitor experience and enables more people to access the incredible natural wonders of the UK’s most northerly nature reserve, whilst still helping to preserve the fragile ecosystem,” he said.

“The 2km of new boardwalk helps to create a fascinating circular route around the reserve, highlighting the amazing seabird colonies and providing spectacular views of Muckle Flugga lighthouse. The interpretive panels around the new shelter provide a wealth of information on both the natural and manmade history associated with the reserve.”

The project to enhance the visitor experience at Hermaness has been delivered through a partnership of NatureScot, Shetland Islands Council and VisitScotland.

‘Great news for tourism in Shetland’

It was funded by £580,704 from the Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund, £286,300 from the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund and £19,857 from NatureScot.

Mr Mathieson added: “We all need to play our part in being responsible visitors and RTIF [Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund] projects such as this one in Hermaness will help ensure our visitor destinations remain sustainable for years to come.”

Councillor Ryan Thomson, who represents the North Isles ward, hailed the project and said: “This is great news for tourism in Shetland and in Unst particularly. Hermaness NNR is an outstanding natural visitor attraction that draws many folk to the isles every year.

“These upgraded facilities will improve the visitor experience and help to protect the natural environment for the future.”

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