A NEW hill path and welcome area has been opened at NatureScot’s Hermaness National Nature Reserve (NNR) in Unst.
Visitors can now enjoy nearly 2km of new boardwalk, which retraces the path to Muckle Flugga signalling station on Hermaness Hill, and creates a circular route around the reserve at Britain’s most northerly point.
The boardwalk will protect the fragile peatland from erosion, and be routed to avoid disturbance to rare nesting birds.
The improved facilities also include a visitor hub at the car park, with a new information shelter and toilets.
The project to enhance the visitor experience at Hermaness NNR has been delivered through a partnership of NatureScot, Shetland Islands Council and VisitScotland.
The work has received £580,704 from the Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund, which is supported by the European Regional Development Fund.
A further £286,300 has come from Scottish Government/VisitScotland Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF), while £19,857 has come from NatureScot.
Speaking at a launch event today (Tuesday), NatureScot chief executive Francesca Osowska said: “Hermaness is a truly special place, with spectacular cliffs that are home to internationally important populations of seabirds including puffins, great skuas and gannets.
“As Scotland’s nature agency, we aim to inspire many more people to discover and value our natural world. These fantastic new facilities will help locals and visitors alike connect to nature at Hermaness for generations to come, as well as protect the nature reserve and provide many benefits for Shetland communities.”
VisitScotland Shetland development manager Steve Mathieson said: “The Hermaness project is a great example of an initiative that enhances the visitor experience and enables more people to access the incredible natural wonders of the UK’s most northerly nature reserve, whilst still helping to preserve the fragile ecosystem.
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“The 2km of new boardwalk helps to create a fascinating circular route around the reserve, highlighting the amazing seabird colonies and providing spectacular views of Muckle Flugga lighthouse.
“The interpretive panels around the new shelter provide a wealth of information on both the natural and manmade history associated with the reserve.”
North Isles councillor Ryan Thomson, who is from Unst, said: “This is great news for tourism in Shetland and in Unst particularly.
“Hermaness NNR is an outstanding natural visitor attraction that draws many folk to the isles every year.”
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