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Whalsay and Out Skerries

Phone code: +44 (0)1806

South of Voe, the B9071 branches east to Laxo, the ferry terminal for the island of Whalsay, one of Shetland's most prosperous small islands owing to its thriving fishing industry, which helps support a population of around 1,000.

Travel Directions to Whalsay and Out Skerries

There are regular daily car and passenger ferries between Laxo and Symbister. To book, call Tel. 566259. There are daily buses to Laxo and and Vidlin from Lerwick, run by Whites Coaches, Tel. 01595-809443.

Local Sights & Activities for Whalsay and Out Skerries

The fleet is based at Symbister, the island's main settlement. Beside the harbour at Symbister is the Pier House, a restored böd which was used by the Hanseatic League, a commercial association of German merchants who traded in Shetland from the Middle Ages to the early 18th century. Inside is an exhibition explaining the history of the Hanseatic trade, and general information on the island. Info - Mon-Sat 0900-1300 and 1400-1700, Sun 1400-1700. Free.

One of Scotland's great poets, Hugh McDiarmid (Christopher Grieve), spent most of the 1930s in Whalsay, where he wrote much of his finest poetry, until he was called for war work in 1942, never to return. His former home, at Sodom near Symbister, is now a camping böd. It's open April-September and has no electricity.

In the seas around Whalsay you can see porpoises, dolphins, minke whales and orcas, hence its Viking name which means 'island of whales'

Out Skerries

The Out Skerries is a small group of rocky islands about five miles from Whalsay and 10 miles east of Shetland Mainland. It's made up of three main islands: the larger islands of Housay and Bruray, which are connected by a road bridge; and the uninhabited island of Grunay. The Skerries boast some spectacular and rugged sea cliffs which are home to many rare migrant seabirds in spring and autumn.


There are ferries to the Skerries from Lerwick, and also from Vidlin, about 3 miles northeast of Laxo. For bookings, call G W Henderson, Tel. 515226. There are also flights from Tingwall Airport.