Skerries are actually two separate islands, joined by a short bridge. Known collectively as the Skerries, the islands of Housay and Bruray lie just east of Mainland Shetland.
Ask an Islander
We asked locals on Skerries to tell us why their island is special. Here’s what they said:
The islands are small enough to walk around, and the coastline offers great opportunities to explore the stacks, caves and arches.
Visit the Battle Pund, thought to be where blood feuds were once settled, or discover the remains of a haaf-fishing station at Lang Ayre. The Skerries are rich in history, including a significant number of historic shipwrecks. There are three well-known 17th and 18th-century wreck sites around the Skerries which are popular with divers. (Permission must be sought before diving, and divers should leave nothing more than bubbles.)
The Skerries sit east of Shetland, in the North Sea, and being the first landfall for many birds migrating westwards, rare sightings are often discovered on the island, making it a favoured spot for birding in spring and autumn. The islands also have resident birdlife as well as otters and seals. Wildflowers are abundant throughout the summer months, with sea pinks carpeting the cliff tops and alpine and meadow flowers giving colour to the fields and road verges.
Ling Beach near the pier on Bruray was artificially constructed for the purpose of drying fish and was a busy place in the heydey of the haaf-fishing era. The haaf – or deep sea – fishing was a vital part of the local economy in the 18th and 19th-centuries.
Smuggling was once a useful source of additional income, and the caves and inlets were handy for storing all kinds of contraband. Skerries’ far-flung easterly position made it a handy landing point for smugglers travelling between Scandinavia and the Netherlands.
Bruray is sheltered from the south by the now uninhabited Isle of Grunay where a Canadian bomber crashed during the Second World War.