Records of cliff collapse

Significance: Shetlanders have many stories of significant changes taking place on their local cliffs. It is hoped through time to gather those oral records so that a picture of the pace of change is developed. A photo survey of the cliffs of Esha Ness in 2004 will also help in recognition of future changes

cliff mass movement    postglacial landscapes   


The Pier (opposite Gaada Stack), with eroding tills and stack. The glacial till on the Pier was about 6ft wide on the top in the 1950s, now the two sides have come together and it is beginning to lose height.  Once the grass goes on this stretch of coast the erosion of the till is relentless - the grass seems to be unable to re-establish itself firmly enough.  The burn that enters the sea at Trolli Geo is fairly recent. Before the till was breached the water flowed east past the crofthouse at Ristie and entered the sea east of the Rigs

Cliff falls in Foula are fairly regular, mostly in the south western stretch from the west end of Mucklebrek to Roeski, but also some between Trolli Geo and the Rigs on the north coast. The Brough Stack supported an arch topped by a Bronze Age broch until the arch collapsed during a storm in 1965.

About one third of the grass slope on the Little Kame collapsed in either the 1960s or 1970s. This was the entire south western end of the huge puffin honeycombed slope a third of the way up the south face of the Kame.

The two arches of the Mid Hoevdi/Run Hoevdi collapsed during the First World War. The two channels are now clear enough to go through in a fourareen, but were still well blocked in the 1950s. My father had a map of Foula on which there was a pencil note saying that this collapse had been caused by a mine, but I never heard this in Foula.

I was told by Peter Manson of Blobersburn, Foula, that there was once an arch/arches between the Logat Head and the Logat Stacks. Certainly this channel was blocked with rock in the 1950s but is now clear.


Papa Stour

The Horn

Arch fell into the sea during the 1953 storm

1981 one of the lochs above Kirstan's Hole drained into the cave below

Noss and Bressay

A rockfall in 1970 blocked the narrow channel with scree between the Cradle Holm and Noss

Dr Jonathan Ross knows of many rockfalls on the east coast of Bressay and Noss.


Kame of Isbister is a rocky promontory joined to the mainland only by a dangerous knife-edged ridge. A path which formerly gave access along the arÍte was destroyed by a cliff-fall in 1930.

Moul of Eswick

The original light station was destroyed when a large section of the cliff collapsed into the sea on November 5, 1994.

South Head, Villians of Hamnavoe 1996-1999

Rockfall on to ramp.

Stonga Banks, Ronas Hill August 1998

Major rockfall

Dore Holm, Stenness 1990s

Stack beside The Dore reduced in size by large rockfall

Sumburgh Head 21st Jan 2004

About 100 square metres of rock collapsed, taking a footpath and a drystone wall with it

5 March 2006

SHETLAND Coastguard are warning the public to avoid an area at the Knab, in Lerwick, after a 50 metre section of the coastal path there collapsed and fell into the sea.

A 50 metre section at the Knab collapsed yesterday - Photo: Courtesy of Shetland CoastguardAn area between Breiwick Road and Knab Road, just below the Coastguard operational room was cordoned off yesterday (Saturday) lunchtime.

The Lerwick Coastguard Rescue Team attended to the incident and initially ensured the safety of around 40 children and adults who were enjoying skiing and sledging in the fresh fall of snow.

Shetland Coastguard watch manager Sandy Wylie said: "This part of the coastal path is crumbly and unstable. We would like to warn families who are out enjoying the snow to ensure that they stay a safe distance away from this part of the cliff path."


The Shetland Times of 06/05/05 reported winter rock fall from Ern Stack in NE Yell.