An island of 327 ha (808 acres), Vaila provides shelter to the small port of Walls on the west Mainland of Shetland from which it is separated by the Wester and Easter Sounds which form entrances to Vaila Sound. The island comprises peat and heather moorland fringed by a rocky coastline that provides nesting for large numbers of seabirds. There are two round hills, East Ward at 91m (298 feet) and West Ward at 81m (266 feet). An ancient watch tower known as Mucklaberry Castle was restored in the 1890s by the island's owner, the Yorkshire mill-owner Herbert Anderton. Anderton also built Vaila Hall in 1895. The largest house of its kind in Shetland, it incorporated a former laird's house built in the 17th Century by James Mitchell. Vaila's previous owner was the Shetland-born shipowner and philanthropist Arthur Anderson (b.1792), a co-founder of the shipping company that became the Pacific and Oriental (P & O). He based his Shetland Fishery Company here in 1837. The island's population fell from 29 (1846) to 9 (1961) and 5 (1971), becoming uninhabited in 1981. However, a population of 1 was recorded in 1991, 2 (2001) and 2 (2011).

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