HU3468 : Mavis Grind

taken 36 years ago, near to Islesburgh, Shetland Islands, Great Britain

This is 1 of 2 images, with title Mavis Grind in this square
Mavis Grind
Mavis Grind
Looking across Mavis Grind from above Sullom Voe.

Mavis Grind, (Old Norse: Maefeid grind = The gate to the Narrow Isthmus) is the name given to a narrow isthmus joining the Northmavine peninsula to the rest of Shetland Mainland. It is just 35 yards wide at its narrowest point. It carries the main A970 road to Hillswick which was blasted through under the cliffs in 1851.

Sullom Voe is an arm of the North Sea whilst the waters to the West are an arm of the Atlantic.

Mavis Grind is said to be the only place in the UK where you 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.
Mavis Grind :: HU3368

Mavis Grind is a narrow strip of land (isthmus), barely 100 foot wide at its narrowest point, which separates the Atlantic Ocean from the North Sea and also joins a large chunk of the north-west mainland to the rest of mainland Shetland. Without it, there would be at least one more Shetland Island.

Researchers believe the Vikings moved their boats across land in order to avoid the hazardous journey round the tip of mainland Shetland (LinkExternal link BBC News). The name Mavis Grind derives from the Old Norse: Mæfeiðs grind or the Norwegian Mæveiðs grind meaning "gate of the narrow isthmus".

Since then, various cargoes have made the crossing but the route is probably best known as “a boat draa” where mariners avoided the long and, at times dangerous, journey around north mainland by hauling their vessel overland instead. The crossing was used regularly until the 1950s.

An information board at the site claims that “Mavis Grind is possibly the only place in the United Kingdom where you can stand at the side of the Atlantic Ocean and throw a stone overland into the North Sea”. I did not try this (not least because if the stone fell short, it could hit any passing traffic on the A970 which crosses the isthmus).

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HU3468, 16 images   (more nearby search)
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Date Taken
Tuesday, 6 August, 1985   (more nearby)
Wednesday, 12 January, 2011
Aerial photo   (more nearby)
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! HU 341 684 [100m precision]
WGS84: 60:23.8951N 1:22.9706W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! HU 349 688
View Direction
West-southwest (about 247 degrees)
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