Yell, the second largest of the Shetland islands, was described rather damningly by Shetland-born writer Eric Linklater as 'dull and dark'.
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It's true that the interior is consistently desolate peat moorland. But the coastline is greener and more pleasant and provides an ideal habitat for the island's large otter population. Yell is also home to a rich variety of birds, and offers some good coastal and hill walks, especially around the rugged coastline of The Herra, a peninsula about half way up the west coast.
Local Sights & Activities for Yell
At Burravoe, about five miles east of the ferry terminal at Ulsta, is the Old Haa Museum, housed in Yell's oldest building which dates from 1672. It contains an interesting display on local flora and fauna and history. Info - Late Apr-Sep Tue-Thu and Sat 1000-1600, Sun 1400-1700. Free. Tel. 722339.
The island's largest village, Mid Yell, has a couple of shops, a pub and a leisure centre with a good swimming pool. About a mile northwest, on the hillside above the main road, are the reputedly haunted ruins of Windhouse, dating from 1707. To the north is the RSPB Lumbister Reserve, where red-throated divers, merlins, great and Arctic skuas and many other bird species come to breed. The reserve is also home to a large number of otters. A pleasant walk leads along the nearby steep and narrow gorge, known as the Daal of Lumbister, filled with many colourful flowers.
The area to the north of the reserve provides good walking over remote moorland and coastline. The road continues north past the reserve and around Basta Voe, where you can see otters. North of Gutcher, the ferry port for Unst, is the village of Cullivoe, with some good walks along the attractive coastline.
Yell Hotels & Accommodation
There's accommodation on Yell at Hillhead, Tel. 722274, in Burravoe; at Pinewood Guest House, Tel. 702427, in South Aywick, between Burravoe and Mid Yell; and at the friendly Post Office, Tel. 744201, in Gutcher. You can also stay at Windhouse Lodge, which is a camping böd below the ruins of haunted Windhouse. It's well-equipped and open Apr-Sep. Eating options are limited to the café in the Old Haa Museum, the Seaview Café in Gutcher, or the Hilltop Restaurant and Bar in Mid Yell.