Travelling to Fair Isle (via Shetland)
To book your stay:
- Make a provisional booking to stay at the Observatory
- Contact either Airtask or the Good Shepherd ferry to arrange your transport onto Fair Isle. Note that Airtask bookings open in early January for that year.
- Arrange your travel to Shetland with either Northlink ferries (sailing from Aberdeen to Lerwick) or any of the airlines that fly to Sumburgh from a variety of UK airports.
- Note that it is only possible to get to Fair Isle from Shetland
- Confirm your booking with the Observatory
Getting to Fair Isle
You can choose to travel to Fair Isle by small plane or boat.
**NEW** Loganair will fly from Kirkwall (Orkney) to Fair Isle two days a week (Monday and Friday) between 1st September and 16th October 2017 (inclusive). They also offer flights to Kirkwall from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness. If you have problems with booking online (e.g. with an iPad) phone 0344 800 2855. More...
Airtask (formerly known as Directflight) offer the only year-round scheduled air service to Fair Isle, using two Britten-Norman Islander aircraft taking up to 7 passengers. See their website for timetables, fares and phone number. Note: they do not accept emails and tickets are collected on arrival at the airport. Their baggage allowance is 15 kg per person (this is all baggage, as binoculars and cameras are the only hand baggage allowed). Airtask operates out of Tingwall airport, with the only flight out of Sumburgh Airport being once a week on Saturday in the summer. The flight typically takes less than 25 minutes from Tingwall. Tingwall is 7 miles (15 minutes by car) west of Lerwick. Dial-A-Ride taxis between Tingwall and the Viking bus termial in Lerwick should be pre-booked. Taxi, bus or hired car can be used to get from Sumburgh to Tingwall, allowing at least an hour transit time (more if using the bus/dial-a-ride taxi).
The Good Shepherd IV provides the only scheduled boat service to Fair Isle. This service operates between North Haven, Fair Isle (where the boat is based) to Grutness Pier near Sumburgh (with a few sailings from Lerwick). The boat can carry 12 passengers. The bus from the Viking bus termial in Lerwick to the Grutness turnoff takes an hour. The timetable for the No. 6 (South Mainland) service can be checked on the ZetTrans website. The boat journey takes about 2½ hours. To book, please phone 01595 760363; again they do not accept emails.
Please give the Observatory advance notice of your means of arrival, so that a pick-up can be arranged. The Observatory will pick you up (and drop you off at the end of your stay) as part of your booking.
Travelling to and from an island such as Fair Isle is totally reliant on the weather. Travel plans can be disrupted by poor visibility and/or strong or gusting winds and visitors should be aware that their plans may be affected even at short notice, especially when considering onward travel immediately after a trip to Fair Isle.
It can be worth checking that the Good Shepherd ferry has left Fair Isle before making your journey. Their information line is 01595 743978.
You should consider buying holiday insurance for your trip. However, be aware that missing an internal UK flight connection may not be covered. It is worth checking beforehand.
Observatory staff will do their best to accommodate such travel disruption (it is likely that if you are delayed arriving on Fair Isle, others will be delayed leaving!). Please keep the Observatory informed of delays. You will be charged for nights actually spent at the Observatory, but not for nights for which you are unable to get to the Observatory due to transport being cancelled by weather.
Private craft can land and berth on Fair Isle.
Getting to Shetland
Northlink ferries sail daily between Aberdeen and Lerwick (Shetland), via Kirkwall (Orkney) on alternate days.
Flybe flies to Sumburgh (Shetland) from Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness (some via Kirwall, Orkney) with connections to other UK destinations. These flights are actually operated by Loganair under a Flybe franchise. See their website for connections to other UK and European destinations (or via codesharing British Airways).
There is more information on planning your travel to and possible staying on Shetland on the Visit Shetland website.