Noss is a small island, off the island of Bressay, off the Shetland mainland.To get there, you'll need to take a ferry to Bressay, and follw signs for Noss (about a three mile drive). From the car park, you walk down the track to the small jetty. You're spotted by the warden who comes to collect you in a small inflatable boat. The boat runs from May to the end of Aug, except Mondays and Thursdays. In Jule 2011, an adult return on the boat was £3, otherwise the reserve is free. There is a small visitor centre with reserve leaflets and other information. Water is sold, and there are toilets. Once there, you can see the remains of a medieval chapel, and the pony pund built for the Marquis of Londonderry who bred Shetland ponies to work in his mines. But the real reason to visit Noss is for the wildlife.
A circular walk around the island (you're asked to keep to the marked trail to protect sensitive areas) will take about 2 and a half hours at a steady pace - but far longer than that if you want to sit and watch the seals watching you in the Voe of the Mels, and the amazing gannet colonies (about 8,600 pairs). There are also guillemots, razorbills, fulmars, puffins, herring gulls, shags and black guillemots to see, as well as great and arctic skuas.
Noss is often refered to as the place to go if you can't be bothered to go up to Hermaness on Unst. However, I'd say a visit to Noss is no way second fiddle to its northerm sibling. There may be fewer birds here, but you're closer to them. I'd say this is the best place on Shetland to see gannets.
If you enjoy walking, and love wildlife, this is an essential part of a Shetland itinerary. Bring your binoculars!
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