West Mainland, the "sunny side of Shetland", is the bulbous peninsula that extends west from Weisdale. It is marked by a series of deep sea lochs or voes that in several places threaten to separate it from the rest of Mainland.
As you head west from Weisdale you pass the village of Bixter, at the head of Bixter Voe. From here it is possible to take a "B" road north to Aith, at the head of Aith Voe. This is home to a lifeboat and to many of the community facilities for West Mainland. Carrying on north and east from here brings you to the village of Voe.
But the road through Aith is perhaps best kept until the end of your exploration of West Mainland. Following the main road west from Bixter brings you to the Bridge of Twatt: a Norse name meaning "the clearing in the trees", a reminder that Shetland a thousand years ago was not the treeless landscape you see today.
A little further still and you pass the remains of Park Hall, just to the north of the road. This was built of concrete in the early 1900s and has very obviously seen better days.
Opposite is the road that takes you south to Skeld and the surrounding area. It is said that St Mary's Chapel at Sand was built by survivors of a Spanish Armada shipwreck. Only part of it now remains. Beyond Skeld are the tiny settlements of Westerwick and Culswick, widely believe to be home to two of the most attractive bays in Shetland.
Using minor roads, it is possible to turn the excursion to Skeld into a loop, in which case you will return to the main road near Bridge of Walls by passing close to Stanydale Temple, the focus of a series of iron age structures thought to date back 4,000 years.
At Bridge of Walls the main road splits. One arm heads north-west across wild countryside to Sandness and Melby, with their beautiful shoreline and wonderful views across to the island of Papa Stour. The other travels the two miles south-west to the fishing village of Walls, complete with the ferry terminus for Foula. For the ferry to Papa Stour you need to retrace your steps to Bridge of Walls and take the very minor road north to the pier at West Burrafirth.
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