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Hermaness is the northernmost headland of Unst, the most northerly inhabited island of Shetland, Scotland. It consists of huge sea cliffs and moorland, making it an ideal habitat for a variety of birds.

Hermaness is said to have once been home to a giant named Herman, who, together with another giant, was lured away by a mermaid.[1]

Hermaness National Nature Reserve[edit]

Hermaness was designated a National Nature Reserve in 1955 and is currently managed by Scottish Natural Heritage, though the land remains in the ownership of the Edmondston family of Baltasound. The NNR extends over 965 hectares, including the whole of the Hermaness peninsula and the outlying Muckle Flugga and Out Stack. The Reserve includes a visitor centre at Burrafirth, in the old lighthouse shore station, as well as a boardwalk that extends out onto the moorland.[2][3] It is renowned for its internationally important seabird colonies, including the world's third largest great skua colony, fulmars, gannets, shags, puffins and guillemots.[4] The blanket bog further inland also provides a good habitat for breeding waders, such as Golden Plover, Dunlin and Snipe.

Hermaness was also home to a black-browed albatross – an extreme rarity in the Northern Hemisphere – every summer from 1972 until 1995 (except 1988 and 1989). This bird, nicknamed 'Albert', proved a major attraction to birdwatchers.[5]

More information on the Reserve is available in SNH's publication, The Story of Hermaness National Nature Reserve.


Hermaness holds a range of designations for its spectacular wildlife, habitat and geological features:


  1. ^ "Hermaness NNR". Scottish Natural Heritage. 1999. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  2. ^ http://www.snh.org.uk/pdfs/publications/nnr/The_Story_of_Hermaness_National_Nature_Reserve.pdf
  3. ^ "nature-shetland.co.uk".
  4. ^ "Scottish Natural Heritage's page on Hermanness NNR".
  5. ^ Anon (1987) The Black-browed Albatross in Shetland Twitching Vol 1 No 6 Pages 160-162

Coordinates: 60°50′14″N 0°53′0″W / 60.83722°N 0.88333°W / 60.83722; -0.88333