On Shetland’s south mainland, park at the Ness Boating Club and follow the coastline north until you reach the red rock pool in Virkie. This pool is coloured red for only a few weeks of the year if the conditions are right. Blog post includes map and directions.
We spent a most wonderful two nights earlier this week glamping at Betty Mouat’s camping bod on the south mainland. A friend of mine is moving south soon, and so a few of us friends got together with all of our children and hired the bod exclusively for two nights for a get-together to remember.
One of the things that we did while there, besides visiting the puffins at Sumburgh, sunbathing on Quendale beach and visiting the Quendale Mill, was to find the elusive red rock pool along the coastline.
I’ve lived in Shetland for nearly twenty years now (come next Spring) and I’d only just heard about this red rock pool phenomenon a week or so ago from my lovely hairdresser.
I can’t find any information online about this pool; locals I’d spoken to in the Dunrossness shop and at Betty Mouat’s had said they’d heard of it, but never visited before. My hairdresser had said to park at the Ness Boating Club and to follow the coastline around, and a gentleman we’d spoken to in the shop said the walk would take about 10-15 minutes.
HOW TO GET TO THE RED ROCK POOL IN VIRKIE
It might take a little bit longer than that if you’ve got kids in tow. Give yourself a good hour to stroll leisurely. Park at the boating club car park and follow the access route sign through some croft ruins, keeping an eye out for the cross-section remains of a Pictish broch that is being lost into the sea.
Scramble across the large rocky beach (it’s easier to walk across if you keep to the peak), watching out for fossil fish in some of the rocks. You’ll cross a fence with a piece of fishing net extending it into the sea; cross over that and head up the hill.
There’s a sign out at the Point of Tangpool on a fencepost warning visitors that the area is a protected nesting site, and to avoid it from May until July, so walk up the hill along the stone wall side to a style you can see at the top of the hill. If you get too close to the nesting site the tirricks will dive bomb you.
Follow the coastline until you reach Millburn Geo. There are a series of abandoned stone mill houses on the hill; you’ll know you’re there when you see those.
It’s a pretty fantastic spot, despite the sulfur smell, with its arch and sea views.
I have no idea why the rock pool is red as I can’t find any literature online about it. I thought at first it might be due to algae, but a local has said it’s red because of the rotting seaweed (that’ll explain the smell!) and it’ll get cleaned out with the next high swell.
In the meantime though, with this spell of beautiful weather we’ve had, it’s a gloriously vibrant red, and a lovely coastal walk on a sunny day.
Go and play. 🙂