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Walking The Southpunds

Walking the Southpunds...

Walking the Southpunds, cliffs is one of my favourite locations for a variety of reasons. For one it's right on our doorstep and only takes several minutes to get there.

Once at the cliffs, heading right, is a playground of rock climbing along this stunning coastline. If you have the time you could possibly walk all the way to Sumburgh Heads. Now if you head left around the cliffs, during summer, you will see puffins, shags, fulmars, rock pigeons and razor bills at Munglie Mint, the second geo. Let's not stop here, walking further around the cliff will take one to the Levenwick Beach and then a road walk back to Voortrekker.

A little bit of history...

The South Mainland of Shetland is marked by the people who have lived here for many generations. It goes without saying that it is rich in archaeological remains such as Jarlshof, Scatness and Mousa. And not forgetting the stunning, Ninians Isle, famous for where its treasure was uncovered. We also have our very own Broch in Levenwick and everywhere are the markings of old fields and ruined homes.

Like many places in Shetland, Southpunds itself, has a long history of settlement and crofting. What does Pund mean? It is simply a place where animals are gathered or penned.

Levenwick has Northpunds and Southpunds. And it is the most southerly area of the village of Levenwick on the east coast of the Shetland mainland.

Levenwick landscape...

Running like a spine up the long peninsula of the south mainland is a ridge of hill. And the village of Levenwick tumbles to its lower slopes looking east and out to sea. Norway being the next stop!

The land area between the cliffs and the houses of SouthPunds tends to be boggy and wilder. Whereas, the rest of the village and has largely been abandoned for agricultural purposes. This has created a natural habitat for wildlife and plants, with almost total freedom for the visitor to wander and explore. Take advice however before you set out as some parts can be too boggy to traverse.

Throughout the village ruins of the original croft houses and buildings still remain giving a deep sense of history. And the footprint of the old strip fields for cultivation is clearly visible when viewed from above.

As we leave the houses behind and head towards the cliffs the ground is firmer and less boggy. Then heading north will take you to the beautiful white sands of Levenwick beach, head south and you can follow the dramatic cliff line for miles and never meet a soul. Archaeological finds indicate continuous human habitation in Levenwick dating back to the Neolithic age suggesting at three thousand years of human activity. The remains of one of the oldest iron age Broch is still visible at the SouthPunds cliff top.

If you want to access the West Coast from SouthPunds it is a simple 10 minute car journey over the hill or a slower more arduous walk. Once you reach the view top of the hill, the views are simply breath-taking. Casting your gaze across to St Ninians, Foula and further out, the North West of the mainland.

Sunny side of life...

Although we don't see the stunning sunsets from the west, we experience beautiful sunrises along with colour filled evening skies.

As April and May draw closer every crofter waits in anticipation for new life to spring into action with lambing season.

One of the many highlights of spring is the return of the migrating birds back to Shetland. An assortment of birds that return to the island to nest are Puffins (Tammie Norrie), Bonxie (Great Skua), Turks (Arctic Terns) and many more. Let's not forget the return of hundreds of European Storm-petrels that make Mousa Broch a phenomena to see. This is their temporary home during summer, and it is worth while taking the Storm Petrel Dusk Trip when visiting the island.

The island experiences in influx of twitchers (bird watchers) to catch a glimpse of rare migrating birds that find their way to the islands. 

Long summer nights...

Around about July the hours of darkness are very few and one can enjoy long hours of outside activity. At the height of summer it is never fully dark and we refer to this magical light as the simmer dim (summer twilight). By contrast, in the depths of winter, daylight hours are very few.

It takes six months to summer solstice and six months winter solstice making daylight different every week.

All this and so much more make Shetland a very unique island to visit and explore...

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