Haroldswick or Harold's Wick (Old Norse
Old Norse
Old Norse is a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements during the Viking Age, until about 1300....

: Haraldsvík, meaning "Harald's bay"), is on Unst
Unst is one of the North Isles of the Shetland Islands, Scotland. It is the northernmost of the inhabited British Isles and is the third largest island in Shetland after the Mainland and Yell. It has an area of .Unst is largely grassland, with coastal cliffs...

, Shetland Islands
Shetland Islands
Shetland is a subarctic archipelago of Scotland that lies north and east of mainland Great Britain. The islands lie some to the northeast of Orkney and southeast of the Faroe Islands and form part of the division between the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the North Sea to the east. The total...

, and is one of the most northerly settlements in the British Isles
British Isles
The British Isles are a group of islands off the northwest coast of continental Europe that include the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and over six thousand smaller isles. There are two sovereign states located on the islands: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and...



The wick takes its name from the Viking King Harald
Harald I of Norway
Harald Fairhair or Harald Finehair , , son of Halfdan the Black, was the first king of Norway.-Background:Little is known of the historical Harald...

, and is reputed to be the first landing point for the Vikings on the Shetland Islands. A Viking grave, attributed to Harold, has been found on the nearby Setter's Hill, overlooking the landing point.


It is a small bay in a crescent moon shape with a hill on either side, with steep cliffs and rough waters with good mackerel
Mackerel is a common name applied to a number of different species of fish, mostly, but not exclusively, from the family Scombridae. They may be found in all tropical and temperate seas. Most live offshore in the oceanic environment but a few, like the Spanish mackerel , enter bays and can be...

 fishing grounds underneath. The beach is rocky until it comes to an old ruin of a pier
A pier is a raised structure, including bridge and building supports and walkways, over water, typically supported by widely spread piles or pillars...

, then it has huge boulders blocking traveller's way. Lining the beach are little cottages with their only barrier against the winds from the sea being a small wall on the other side of the road. A small maritime museum dedicated to the traditional small boats of Shetland, the Unst Boat Haven, is located at the head of the bay and is open to visitors from May to September. The beach is frequently populated with Grey Seal
Grey Seal
The grey seal is found on both shores of the North Atlantic Ocean. It is a large seal of the family Phocidae or "true seals". It is the only species classified in the genus Halichoerus...

s and Grey Heron
Grey Heron
The Grey Heron , is a wading bird of the heron family Ardeidae, native throughout temperate Europe and Asia and also parts of Africa. It is resident in the milder south and west, but many birds retreat in winter from the ice in colder regions...

s. The depth is shallow for about 6 metres, then deepens considerably.


The bay is located some 615 km (382.1 mi) north of the closest UK city, Inverness
Inverness is a city in the Scottish Highlands. It is the administrative centre for the Highland council area, and is regarded as the capital of the Highlands of Scotland...

, in Scotland's Highland region and 1310 km (814 mi) from London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. Even Lerwick
Lerwick is the capital and main port of the Shetland Islands, Scotland, located more than 100 miles off the north coast of mainland Scotland on the east coast of the Shetland Mainland...

, the Shetland's capital and only town, is some 96 km (59.7 mi) to the south. However, Haroldswick's claim to be the northernmost settlement in the UK is surpassed by the tiny hamlet of Norwick-Skaw, situated 8 km (5 mi) to the north.

The Methodist Church at Haroldswick is the farthest North in Britain.

For many years, Haroldswick Post Office was the most northerly in the UK and visitors could get a special postmark. Since the office's closure in 1999, this record is now held by the post office in Baltasound
Baltasound is the largest settlement on the island of Unst in Shetland. Unst is the most northerly inhabited island in the United Kingdom. The village lies halfway along the island's east coast on a sheltered bay called Balta Sound....


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