Skerries | Yolanda Bruce

Island intro

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.

Getting Here

A ferry runs from the pier at Vidlin on Mainland Shetland to the Skerries ferry terminal in Bruray. The service occasionally also runs from Lerwick. Booking is essential – see the ferry booking section of the Shetland Islands Council website.

Bus service 19 between Lerwick and Vidlin includes a stop a short walk from the pier.

Find out more about getting to Mainland Shetland.

Explore More

Want to find out more about Skerries and explore more of our amazing islands?

Download the free Scottish Islands Passport app to:

  • discover your perfect island match,
  • find out about the experiences each island has to offer,
  • collect passport stamps for the islands you visit,
  • find information on accommodation, travel and island amenities.

Get Your Passport

You can find lots more information about things to see and do on the island, see some amazing island photography and collect your island stamp by downloading our app.

Download the app

App in phone

Download the Scottish Island Passport app to collect your island stamps! The app also provides lots more information on each island including recommendations from locals about things to see and do, info on how to get around, more stunning photos and useful offline maps.

  • Unlock Stamps - Collect them all! Stamp your passport when you visit each island - with an individual stamp designed to represent a unique aspect of island heritage.
  • Experiences - Discover the best experiences each island has to offer – from local boat trips to exciting traditional festivals, there is something for everyone.
  • Maps - Navigate the islands with useful offline maps, handy for areas where internet connectivity is weak.
  • Travel Jounals - Create an in-location travel journal with pictures from your island adventures, to look back on your trip.
  • Favourites - keep track of your most loved islands with the favourites feature. Available to access from your account on both the app and web.