Once known as Zetland, the archipelago is between Norway, the Faroe Islands, and the U.K. It is the most northern part of the U.K. and Scotland. The Shetland Islands are known for their beautiful nature, and that’s why camping in Shetland is so popular.
These islands are a wildflower garden, perfect for island hopping in a beautiful setting. You can see Sumburgh lighthouse, spot puffins, and see Lerwick harbor. In this article, we will tell you all you need to know about camping in Shetland, how to wild camp, where to camp, and when to do it.
Is it Legal to Camp in Shetland?
Wild camping in Scotland is allowed, unlike in the rest of the U.K.; while this type of camping is forbidden in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, Scotland has chosen not to ban wild camping. This is due to their open view on wild camping and land ownership.
Therefore, as a part of Scotland, Shetland allows wild camping on its territory. Of course, not everything is allowed when wild camping. This goes for starting fires, which is forbidden in most of the U.K. They also ask all visitors to stick to the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
One can see that locals care about their nature and wildlife since most communities have volunteer-run camping and caravanning sites. We found a problem: most campsites in Shetland had little to no stores and restaurants nearby.
Here is what local authorities say about wild camping: “Shetland does welcome wild campers, as long as you are mindful of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and seek permission from the landowner before setting up camp.
The easiest way to do this is to contact the nearest house, establish who the landowner is, and ask them whether or not you may camp there. Don’t hesitate to ask their advice – they’ll probably tell you whether the site is suitable or recommend an even better location for you.
Please wild camp for no more than 2-3 nights in one location and avoid fields with crops, livestock, or nesting bird colonies. Also, avoid public water collection areas and reservoirs.
Toilet and waste disposal are the camper’s responsibility, and these tasks should be carried out discreetly and responsibly.” – Shetland.org
Weather in Shetland
What type of weather can one expect from islands between the U.K., Norway, and Faroe islands? Wet and cold, of course. But it’s not always gloomy on the isles. Of course, occasional wind and snow in the mid-seasons can surprise you when camping, but it’s nothing to worry about.
The best time to visit the Shetland Isles is summer since the days are longer and sunnier. It lasts from June to August, and since Shetland isn’t the most touristy place, you can expect zero crowds. Of course, even summer is cold here, with a maximum temperature of 18°C or 64°F.
The island’s highest point is Ronas hill, 450 m above sea level and occasional winter snow. The months with the most precipitation are October through March. Winter lasts long here, with temperatures above 0 °C or 32 °F. Mostly, it is windy and rainy, so the windchill and ambiance add to the gloomy winter effect.
When visiting Shetland, here are the must-sees:
- Old Haa Museum – In Yell, you can check out the local history.
- Fair Isle – Observe birds and traditional knitting.
- Yell – the first Methodist chapel was built in 1827. and other local sites to see in the main town.
- Sumburgh Head Lighthouse – is the oldest lighthouse in Shetland.
Where to Camp in Shetland?
Camping and caravaning in the Shetland isle is very popular since locals are in touch with nature. These islands are a great place to explore, regardless of the season you’re visiting.
This subarctic archipelago consists of 100 islands, from which you can choose one to your liking. The isles combine the natural beauty of the sea with a long-standing heritage. While only fifteen islands are inhabited, we encourage you to visit South Mainland, Central Mainland, Fair Isle, and Northerly Isle. Inter-island ferries are available everywhere.
Regardless of which island you choose, here are our favorite campsites in Shetland:
- South Nesting Caravan Park – This is a medium-sized caravan site in Nesting with electric hookups and toilet access. This is an outdoor center public hall run on a volunteer basis by the Shetland Islands Council. You can find clean toilets, picnic tables, and chemical waste disposal, but no laundry facilities.
- Burravoe Pier Trust Caravan and Campsite – Another campsite close to Yell, open all year, is Burravoe Pier. It’s a small campsite with only a few tents and touring pitches. It has disabled access and clean toilet facilities.
- Skeld Caravan Park and Campsite – We believe this is the best campsite on the island because the facilities are well maintained and look new. Again, this campsite is run by the community on a volunteer basis, which we love since you can see that the locals care about their island.
Wild Camping Tips and Gear
Here are some of our tips that you should take into consideration when wild camping in Shetland:
- Prepare for the weather by checking the local weather forecast. Never get surprised by the weather, whether it’s summer or winter.
- Leave the area in the same condition you found and respect others’ privacy.
- Respect the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
Also, if you plan on checking Shetland out while wild camping, here is the gear you will need:
- Sleeping bag, pad, double-walled tent.
- Base, mid and outer layers
- Extra rain gear and snow/cold-weather gear if visiting in winter
- First aid, batteries, power bank, cooking, furnace, headlamp
Visit Shetland in summer to see wildflowers, otters, and puffins. Also, visit during winter to experience true tranquility. Shetland offers camping sites on any sandy beach, while the nearest house is a long walk away.
We hope our article helped you choose the right place to stay in the Shetland Isles. Remember, when camping in Shetland, bring your rain gear as well.