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Baltasound, from the Voehead - - 146266.jpg
Balta Sound
Location: 60°45’36"N, 0°51’36"W
Post town: Shetland
Postcode: ZE2
Dialling code: 01957
Local Government
Council: Shetland
Orkney and Shetland

Baltasound is the main village on the island of Unst, in the bay of Balta Sound. It has is a large and well sheltered harbour, with a marina for smaller boats.

The village's name derives from the water of Balta Sound, the great natural harbour at whose head stands the village. The Sound in turn takes its name from the island of Balta which lies across its mouth. Balta derives the Old Norse Baltey, meaning "Balt's Island".

The parish church, St John's Kirk, stands in the village. The village is catered for by a post office and some shops, a school and other facilities.

Northernmost places

From Baltasound's position several of its features and amenities may claim the title of Britain's northernmost, including the northernmost:

  • Airport (Baltasound Airport, code UNT, with a runway length of 2,099 feet.,[1] currently only used by emergency services;
  • Post office (since that at Haroldswick closed in 1999.[2]);
  • School (Baltasound Junior High School);
  • Leisure centre (Unst Leisure Centre, with Brtiain's northernmost swimming pool);
  • Hotel (The Baltasound Hotel, which stands near the habour);
  • Brewery (the Valhalla Brewery);
  • Wood (albeit a modest wood)[3]
Baltasound Post Office, the most northerly in the British Isles

Fish and whales

Baltasound was formerly the most second most important herring port in Shetland, in 1902 its catch exceeded that of the Shetland capital Lerwick. The herring trade declined rapidly after 1905 but the physical remains of the herring boom remained long after.[4]

Around 1900, Baltasound was the main centre for the herring industry in the northern isles. As many as 10,000 people were based here in the season, and 600 fishing boats were operating from about 50 herring stations around Baltasound.

Baltasound was used by the whaling industry from as early as 1799, and seal curing and boat building has also taken place here.

Sights around the village

Bobby's Bus Shelter

Baltasound is the location of Bobby's Bus Shelter, with its ever changing decorations.

Jessie Saxby's Shetlanders Cairn stands to the west of A968 as it leaves Baltasound towards Haroldswick. It is a memorial to the Shetlanders who fell in the First World War.

Outside links


  1. Airports Worldwide
  2. BBC News report on closure of Haroldswick post office
  3. Blackadder, Jill Slee Shetland (Colin Baxter Island Guides) (2003) Colin Baxter Photography, Strathspey ISBN 1-84107-125-0
  4. Hudson, Norman - Souvenir Postcards from Shetland, Shetland Times, 1992