I always find North Roe an exciting place to visit, even though I live only a few miles south in Hillswick. There's something otherworldly about the journey there, past the Giant's Grave and the epic, Mars-Attacks landscape of Da Bjorgs, a range of steep and very rocky red granite hills. Walking them is a haunting experience. Boulders in all sizes and strange shapes pepper what can seem like a science-fiction set, something slightly unnatural. The views are amazing. Trows - Shetlandic trolls - have been seen. Beware. A neolithic axe factory can be found here - don't remove any samples you find.
North Roe itself was once a busy hub for the herring industry, and though there is no longer a shop it is a place to stop and wander, enjoying the sense of the past. The not too distant past, too, as North Roe's community garden is a wonder - beautifully kept and containing all kinds of fascinating plantings and designs with local relevance. It is also home to the Shetland Croft House Garden which in 2008 graced the Chelsea Flower Show in London before being moved lock, stock and stone walls to North Roe. Even in the depths of winter, the sheltered garden is a joy to visit. The North Roe and Lochend public hall often has events and Sunday teas, and periodically hosts the legendary Big Bannock Festival. Don't miss Sharon McGeady's pottery at North House too. Ask anyone for directions.
Park your car. Now it's time to at least contemplate long but rewarding walks to two of the most astonishing sites in all Shetland.
One is the abandoned but incredible well preserved haaf fishery station at Fethaland, once the biggest in the isles. There is a steatite quarry going back to Norse times and a face carved with initials from generations of fishermen who would spend the summers living and sailing from here. It is a truly amazing place.
A fairly long walk or run by mountain bike. You will need specific permission from the landowner to take any vehicle out, as you will along the much bigger but rough track to Uyea.
Uyea is like a lost paradise in the summer, a fertile expanse of lush green grass leading to one of the finest of Shetland's tombolos, or double sided beaches, leading to Uyea Isle itself. Beware though - this beach can be covered at high tide and you wouldn't be the first to find yourself cut off.
There is a magnificent walk to be had from Collafirth to the top of Ronas Hill, over to the hidden and stunning gravel beach calle the Lang Ayre, and then along past the waterfalls at Lang Clodie Wick to Uyea. You can then take the track out to North Roe, or keep going to Roer Mill, where the pirate Jacob Stays was murdered in 1774 by his shipmates, though you could hardly call them mates...he was buried alive up to his neck and left for the Bonxies, Great Skuas, to peck his eyes out. Lovely. Best to keep going to Sandvoe to relax and try to forget I told you that.