9 things to do in Aith with children
Aith, or Eid as it’s known locally in Shetland, is a fantastic place to have a day out with kids. If you’re looking to visit Shetland this summer, here are 9 suggestions for fun-filled things to do with the family. (Top tip – these suggestions are just as fun for adults too – children are optional – and this itinerary is great all year round).
The lifeboat station in Aith is the UK’s most northerly station. Operating from the station is the Severn class lifeboat Charles Lidbury. The Severn class boats are the largest in the RNLI fleet, and Shetland has two, the other being based in Lerwick to protect east coast waters. Aith has had a dedicated lifeboat station since 1933.
Aith is the largest village in Shetland’s scenic West Mainland. The village has a close-knit community feel with plenty of amenities, including a shop, marina, leisure centre, school and public hall.
Aith is a 21 mile drive from Lerwick, following the A970 and A971, then the B9071 and is served by a daily bus service operated by Zetrans.
This blog will look at some ideas for a fun-filled day out for all the family!
Michaelswood is the best place to start a day in Aith – particularly if you have little people in the car who need to run off some excess energy after the drive west.
Michaelswood is a community garden set up in memory of Michael Ferrie, a young musician from Aith who died in 1996. His family set up the popular gardens in his memory, and it has continued to grow and develop over the years.
The wooded area features a trail through the trees with lots of interesting spots along the trail for children to discover and explore, including picnic areas, a bird hide, toys and a collection of show-stopping, life-size (ish) dinosaurs. There are also swings and a children’s play area complete with picnic benches for weary parents to sit and relax.
If you have a picnic – or need to warm up or dry off – a polycrub (polytunnel) at the entrance to the gardens offers warmth and shelter from the elements, and visitors are free to go inside and use the picnic tables.
Admission to Michaelswood is free, and there’s a donations box at the entrance that supports the fantastic work so you can show your appreciation and leave a gift.
Top tip: There are no public toilets at Michaelswood, but you’ll find some a short distance away at the Aith Marina.
2. The Original Cake Fridge
If you watched the last series of the ‘Shetland’ TV show, you’d have seen Jimmy Perez and his father visiting a cake fridge – they used Lynn’s popular Cake Fridge, The Original Cake Fridge, in the filming, and you too can visit and pick up a sweet treat.
Honesty boxes and cake fridges can be found all around Shetland. These roadside pit stops offer a selection of cakes, bakes, fresh eggs, farm produce, jams, and chutneys – each box or fridge is different, and you never quite know what to expect. The Original Cake Fridge was one of the first selling cakes and bakes to those passing along the road. They are easy to work; simply choose the items you’d like to buy and leave the money in the tin. These are operated entirely on a system of honesty.
You’ll also find arts and crafts for sale in the Cake Fridge, and the tearoom next door offers takeaway that can be enjoyed in the adjoining gardens.
Top tip – If you enjoy the honesty box experience, head in the Vementry road (from Aith) and, about a mile along the road, you’ll find a couple of honesty boxes – one selling plants (indoor and outdoor), and the other selling lovely fresh hens eggs.
3. Burn of Lunklet walk
The next stop on the adventure is the picturesque Burn of Lunklet. You’ll find the ‘brown tourist sign’ advertising the short walk a mile or so from the village of Aith in Shetland. This burn [stream] is the perfect place to spend an afternoon – especially if there’s been a lot of rain and the burn is flowing fast.
Stop at the Original Cake Fridge for a picnic and head up the burn, following the path until you reach the impressive waterfall. The walk itself will take about 10-15 minutes each way, but be sure to allow time for a picnic at the waterfall.
This is an excellent walk for toddlers and younger kids who love the opportunity to follow the gravel path that winds its way into the hill along the side of the burn.
Be mindful that the burn can be deep and fast flowing in places, so children should be under supervision at all times.
4. West Mainland Leisure Centre
Sometimes with kids, a certain degree of bribery is required to get those little legs to walk, and the West Mainland Leisure Centre is the perfect bribery tool to get them to the waterfall and back without being carried!
Shetland has fantastic leisure facilities with eight purpose-built leisure centres across the islands, each one boasting a generously sized swimming pool. The West Mainland Leisure Centre is no exception, with a swimming pool, badminton courts, climbing wall, steam room, sauna and gym, there’s plenty for all the family and equipment can be hired as necessary.
Information and timetables can be found here.
5. Aith Charity Shop
Who doesn’t love a rummage through a charity shop? You’re never sure what you might find! The Aald Skule Recycling Unit is a popular charity shop amongst locals keen to bag a bargain. The local community runs the shop from the old village school, selling clothes, toys, books, furniture, etc.
For more information, check out their Facebook page.
Opening hours: Thursday 7-9 & Sunday 2-4.
6. Pick up ice cream from the Eid community shop
You may want to pop into the local community-owned cooperative shop in Aith in Shetland to pick up ice cream before heading to the playpark?
The shop was founded in 2002 after the previous family-run shop closed its doors for the last time, leaving the village without a shop. Local shops are vital for small communities, and the best way to support them is to visit when you’re in the area.
For information on visiting hours, visit their Facebook page.
Shetland has more playparks than you can shake a stick at, and some of them, like the Eid playpark, have fantastic views to boot! Most of the 71 play areas are provided by the Shetland Islands Council and are well-maintained and tidy.
The Eid playpark is beside the housing scheme at Wirligert, and has swings, slides, climbing frames, see-saws and picnic benches to enjoy.
8. Explore the marina, beach and view the lifeboat
From the playpark, follow the footpath down to the shore. Here you can wander around the marina and pier or search for pottery and sea glass on the beach. The village is home to one of Shetland’s two Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) lifeboats. The lifeboat station in Aith is the UK’s most northerly station.
Operating from the station is the Severn class lifeboat Charles Lidbury. The Severn class boats are the largest in the RNLI fleet, and Shetland has two, the other being based in Lerwick to protect east coast waters. Aith has had a dedicated lifeboat station since 1933. Following the loss of the trawler Ben Doran in 1930, it was decided that a station needed to be established on Shetland’s west coast – three years later, the Aith station was opened.
9. Take a drive through “the Alps” to Grobsness
No – not the French Alps. Shetland has its very own version of what the locals endearingly term ‘The Alps’. This is a stretch of road that runs between Voe and Aith (or vice versa) along the B9071. This is a beautiful drive along one of Shetland’s most picturesque roads that trails the hilltops with impressive views across the hilltops of the West Mainland and beyond. Along the road, detour in the Grobsness road and check out the ruined house and haa at the end of the road. If time allows, walk down to the beach.
There’s plenty to do in Aith in Shetland – the only thing you may run out of is time!
Born and raised in Shetland, Laurie loves the unique history and culture there so much that she started her own tour company offering visitors the chance to see the isles through the eyes of an islander. Find out more at www.shetlandwithlaurie.com