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St Ninian's Isle, Bigton

Categories: Islands, Nature & Parks
Inspirock Rating:
4.7/5 based on 30+ reviews on the web
St Ninian's Isle is a small tied island connected by the largest active tombolo in the UK to the south-western coast of the Mainland, Shetland, in Scotland. The tombolo, known locally as an ayre from the Old Norse for "gravel bank", is 500 metres long. During the summer the tombolo is above sea level and accessible to walkers. During winter, stronger wave action removes sand from the beach so that it is usually covered at high tide, and occasionally throughout the tidal cycle, until the sand is returned the following spring. Depending on the definition used, St. Ninian's is thus either an island, or a peninsula; it has an area of about 72 hectares. The nearest settlement is Bigton on South Mainland. The important early medieval St Ninian's Isle Treasure of metalwork, mostly in silver, was discovered under the church floor in 1958. Many seabirds, including puffins, visit the island, with several species nesting there.HistoryAs 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).
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  • We were lucky to visit on abeautiful day with the sun shining and no one else around. Would definitely recommend a visit and a walk along the sands. Wish we had more time to walk around St Ninians Isl...  read more »
  • St. Ninians Island is joined to mainland by UK largest active Tombolo (sand spit with sea either side). Great for a walk, sunning yourself, etc. 
  • Being able to walk out across the sand spit (tombolo I believe it's called) joining the island to the mainland while waves crashed on both sides was amazing. It only got better when we spotted seals p...  read more »
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