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Tour Director

  • Explore the wonderfully atmospheric, uninhabited Island of Mousa, home to seabirds and waders including storm petrels

  • Absorb the remarkable history of Shetland, from Neolithic settlements to Viking remains

  • Make an excursion to the island of Unst to visit the Keen of Hamar Nature Reserve, with its otherworldly appearance and rare plantlife

“The trip was well organised and the tour leaders were outstanding. I would certainly recommend both the actual trip and ACE as a tour operator”

“The places visited were fascinating, the tour leader extremely knowledgeable, the tour organisation first class”

- ACE customers on recent Shetland Islands tours with Peter Exley

The Shetland Islands are like no other place in Britain, their landscape carved by their sub-Arctic location and thousands of years of human influence. This remote, wild archipelago is an ideal place to study birds, observe sea mammals and identify wildflowers – the three main themes of our summer tour.


Our tour will cover the full length of Shetland, from Sumburgh Head in the south where we will look for colourful puffins, to the northern Island of Unst. Here we will visit the remote Hermaness Reserve, over 2000 acres of dramatic coastal scenery and wild moorland with thousands of nesting seabirds, including the UK’s largest great skua colony and gannetry. Nearby lies the Keen of Hamar, a unique lunar-like landscape of fractured serpentine rock home to some of Britain’s rarest plants. 


We will visit the Island of Mousa by day to see its many seabirds and waders, and again at dusk as storm petrels come ashore. Our tour will also explore the vegetation and geo-morphology of the spectacular sandy causeway – known as a tombolo – that leads to St Ninian’s Isle, famed for the hoard of Pictish treasure uncovered in the ruins of the 12th century church.


We also hope to encounter something of Shetland’s very early history, including Jarlshof, where the original Stone Age dwellings are topped by Pictish wheelhouses, Viking longhouses and the remains of a 16th century mansion.


We will stay initially at the Glen Orchy House, a friendly and modern establishment based in Shetland’s principal town. Whilst the accommodation is of a relatively basic standard, it is clean, comfortable and ideal for many of our daytime visits as well as being within short walking distance of the Broch of Clickimin, a wonderfully preserved stone-built round house of a type found only in Scotland. We will then transfer to the three-star Brae Hotel, perfectly positioned at the northern end of the mainland. Brae will be our base for our explorations north, to the islands of Yell, Fetlar and Unst.


This tour will be led by Peter Exley, BSc, an ecologist and ornithologist who currently works for the RSPB. Peter has also held posts with BirdLife International and the Albatross Task Force in South Africa. He has led and managed many ACE tours in the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Algarve, New England, Madeira, the Faroes and Shetland.


Tour Director Peter Exley writes:


"The Shetland Islands in summer are one of our most exciting wildlife destinations. Teeming seabird cities crowd on towering cliffs, red-throated divers can be found on the myriad lochs, and it is the best place to see seals, porpoises, otters and even killer whales. Remote and beautiful, Britain’s rugged northernmost archipelago is rich in Viking history and Neolithic archaeology, and together we will explore this uniquely rich fusion of archaeology, history, culture, community and stunning wildlife."

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