The fascinating island of Papa Stour sits off Shetland’s west coast.
Ask an Islander
We asked local islander Astryd to tell us why Papa Stour is special. Here’s what she said:
“I love Papa Stour all year round. To every season there is something magical. I particularly love the height of summer when the island is teeming with wildlife and nature fills your senses. I have memories of long summer holidays that felt as though they could last forever. We’d have beaches to ourselves, the freedom to run wild, swim in the sea, go fishing and walk for miles, exploring every nook and cranny of the island, making the most of the long days and white nights.”
Papa is well known for its beautiful island walks, as Astryd tells us. “Head to the back of the isle or “ootadaeks” as we say. Beyond the croft boundaries, to the wilderness of Papa’s west coastline, the North Atlantic breaks and shapes the land. It’s a healing place: you may visit with a weight on your shoulders, but here you can leave it all behind and let the sea wash it away at the edge of the world.”
And how would you recommend making the most of a sunny day on Papa? “Anything outside!” Astryd says. “If you have a mountain bike or hybrid bike you’ll enjoy exploring that way (being mindful of bird’s nests and closing gates behind you). It’s also a great place to take a sketch book. Papa is a quiet place and you’ll likely have beaches to yourself where you can swim, snorkle and paddle to your heart’s content. A wetsuit can be handy though! You can also soak up Papa’s magic – just sitting watching the way the sun sparkles on the sea.” Magic.
If you had to choose a favourite … “It’s hard to choose a favourite because I have lots of lovely memories from all over Papa, especially walks with my mother. I really love visiting the “Trowie Mills” and the old mills at Hamnavoe – a reminder of the toil and industry of our ancestors who lived through much adversity and experienced many hardships, but also of our rich folklore and storytelling heritage. I can well imagine the feeling of trow eyes upon you navigating through the mills in the dark!”
Summer in Papa sounds incredible, but what about winter? “Our long summer days are balanced with long, wild winters. But I love the sense of slowing down and taking stock. At the start of winter you might see baby grey seal pups. There is variety in winter days too: there can be calm, crisp days with air that feels cold and clean, as well as the wild days where the sea rises to new heights and the power of the wind is exciting and fearsome. It’s really invigorating to wrap up well and stride out on a wintery day – but stay clear of the cliffs! The “flans” (sudden gusts) of wind in Shetland can take your feet from you. There’s nothing better than a cup of tea after a brisk walk in the fresh winds!”
Scheduled ferry from West Burrafirth on Mainland Shetland operated by Shetland Ferries. Limited passenger space so booking is essential. The Dial-A-Ride bus service 18 connects West Burrafirth to Bixter and on to Lerwick. Find out more about Shetland buses.
Flights to Papa Stour from Tingwall on Shetland Mainland operated by Airtask. Generally once a week.
Find out more about getting to Mainland Shetland.
Want to find out more about Papa Stour and explore more of our amazing islands?
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