Your charity for Scotland’s environment

St Ninians Isle

St. Ninians Isle beach is a large tombolo (a natural sand causeway with sea on either side) on the west coast of Shetland, linking the South Mainland with the Isle.  It is easily accessible from Bigton, the nearest township.  The beach itself is picturesque, often featured in promotional material and photographs of Shetland.  The beach is in a rural farming region, with an archaeological site located on St. Ninians Isle.

Water Quality is currently untested at St Ninians Isle.

History

As its name suggests, the island has ecclesiastical connections, which may like others in the Northern Isles, Hebrides and Faroes have connections to the Culdees or papar. However, the island's history is far older than Christianity, and Neolithic graves have been found within the walls of the chapel (formerly beneath the floor).

The ruins of a 12th-century chapel can still be seen near the end of the tombolo. The dedication is to Shetland's patron saint, the enigmatic Saint Ninian of Galloway, who is also widely venerated on the nearby Orkney Islands, and may be commemorated in the name of North Ronaldsay. In 1958, an excavation found a hoard of 8th century silver in the chapel grounds under a stone slab in a wooden box, which caused a renewed archaeological interest in the island.[7] It was suspected to have been buried to hide it from, or stolen in, a Viking raid. The remains of a pre-Norse chapel were also found, which may indicate some kind of Culdee presence.

Natural Space

St. Ninians Isle beach is a large natural sand causeway with sea on either side. On the west coast of Shetland, it links the South Mainland with the Isle.

St. Ninians Isle beach is a large tombolo (a natural sand causeway with sea on either side) on the west coast of Shetland, linking the South Mainland with the Isle. It is easily accessible from Bigton, the nearest township. The beach itself is picturesque, often featured in promotional material and photographs of Shetland. The beach is in a rural farming region, with an archaeological site located on St. Ninians Isle. 

Setting

St Ninian's Isle is a small tied island connected by the largest tombolo in the UK to the south-western coast of the Mainland, Shetland, in Scotland. It is part of the civil parish of Dunrossness on the South Mainland. The tombolo, known locally as an ayre from the Old Norse for "gravel bank", is 500 metres long 

Getting There

On the A970 from Lerwick to Sumburgh turn on to the B9122 towards Bigton. This is a single track road with plenty of passing places. After approximately one and a half miles, take the second right turning into Bigton. Follow this road for approximately 500 yards, where there will be a turn off to the left, then turn right immediately afterwards. This road leads to St. Ninians Isle Beach. The bus service between Lerwick and Sumburgh has one daily route (Monday to Saturday) for Bigton, which operates by way of a feeder service to/from the Channerwick Junction. The beach is part of a core path plan for Shetland, information about which can be found at the local Visit Shetland office in Lerwick.

 

Contact details

Dunrossness Community Council
01595 744 810
Visit Website

Facilities

Family Friendly Recreation Friendly Sandy Canoeing Toilets Free parking Windsurfing Sailing Good for Wildlife Public Rescue Equipment