Unst is the most northerly populated island in Britain. It’s a 2 hour journey and two ferries from Lerwick.
Although only 20 km by 8 km miles and with a population of only just over 500, it has its own unique character.
There are soaring cliffs, sandy beaches, wildlife, archaeological remains. Unst has two Nature Reserves – Hermaness and the Keen of Hamar. Hermaness is home to 25,000 pairs of Puffins each summer. The moonscape of the Keen of Hamar is the habitat to Edmonston’s chickweed – a plant found nowhere else in the world!
Unst is rich geologically, with outcrops of talc and soapstone. Recently, gold has been prospected in the Unst hills.
Historically, Unst has much to offer – from prehistoric standing stones and Viking houses to a 16th century castle and the remains of a wartime radar station.
There are three main centres on the island – Uyeasound in the south, Baltasound in the middle, and Haroldswick in the north. Facilities in the island include 3 shops, a post office, a garage, a care centre, a heritage centre, a boat museum, a leisure centre with swimming pool, a boating club, a music group – and a world famous bus shelter!! In February, there are two Up Helly Aa festivals, one at Norwick and one at Uyeasound. Our former head and former depute head have been the Jarl at Norwick and Uyeasound respectively in recent years.
People in Unst tend to work in a variety of jobs – including crofting, salmon farming, ferries, a brewery, a chocolate factory, research into renewable energy but the closure of the RAF camp at Saxavord has meant that there has been some thought needed about the future. The ex-RAF camp is now used for holiday accommodation and a restaurant (during summer) and old RAF houses in Baltasound have either been privately bought or taken over by Hjaltland Housing Association who rent them out.
Our island may be small – but there’s a lot in it!