Mavis Grind

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Mavis Grind

Mavis Grind is a very narrow neck of land of Shetland Mainland parting the Atlantic Ocean to the west from the North Sea to the east. By Mavis Grind is the Northmavine peninsula joined to the rest of Mainland. is a few miles from the settlement of Brae.

Mavis Gind is just 35 yards wide at its narrowest point.

The name of the isthmus is from the Old Norse Maefeiðs grind, meaning "the gate to the narrow isthmus".

The main A970 road crosses Mavis Grind to Hillswick in the northwest of Shetland. The road was blasted through under the cliffs in 1851.

Mavis Grind is said to be the only place in the United Kingdom where one can toss a stone across land from the North Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. It is a regular crossing point for European otters, which in Shetland are sea-dwelling and unfortunately often become road casualties.


Since Norse days, Mavis Grind has been an important porterage point; here boats can be hauled overland to avoid the long and hazardous sea crossing around Shetland. Fishermen were wont to haul their boats across up to at least the 1950s. The Norsemen were reckoned to bring boats and even ships across Mavis Grind.

In the 1990s this was tested with a Danish replica knarr named "Borgundknarren", a replica of a trading vessel from the Vikiing Age in the Roskilde Viking Ship museum in Denmark. The Norwegian crew, captained by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, sailed from Denmark to Shetland and after one false start managed to haul the ship from the North Sea to the Atlantic here.[1]



  1. BBC: "Secrets of the Ancients" summary