Twenty Four Hours in Westray

  • Friday 1st July – Saturday 2nd July 2022
  • Westray

Once on mainland Orkney we decided we would try check out another Island so we settled on Westray, Orkneys most north-westerly Island.

Taking an hour and a half on the ferry from Kirkwall, the car and passenger ferry docks at Rapness at the far south of the island, while the main settlement, Pierowall, is in the north.

Leaving Kirkwall

It took us just under 10 minutes to realise that Westray has to be the friendliest Island we have ever been on. On driving along what I’ll call the ‘main road’ which was basically a very straight road that went right through the middle of the island, taking us from Rapness to Pierowall, we were waved at by farmers in their fields, residents in and around their houses mostly farmers, and by those driving the other vehicles on the road (farmers) which were mainly tractors and only ever a maximum of two at a time anytime we were on the road.

The ‘main road’ at rush hour!

We soon caught the bug and before we knew it we were happily waving to anybody and everybody we saw (which really wasn’t a lot of people as it was so quiet, but still, it was fun). I love this place, it felt really nice.

Westray has been described as ‘The Queen of the Isles’, it is the second largest of the North Isles with a population of around 600, but where these 600 people are beats me.

We soon found out this was another Island with another awe-inspiring coastline, with stunning cliff scenery and beautiful sandy bays, you can never tire of these views and they are everywhere.

Westray’s very beautiful coastline

Westray also has an extensive pre history, with new sites still being discovered. Recent excavations include two Viking longhouses.

Westray is also a haven for wildlife and with huge cliffs and spectacular views we had plenty of seabirds for company, including lots and lots of Puffins and straight away this was where we were heading!

Well hello there you two

We headed to Castle o’Burrian which we were told from a local was arguably the finest place in Orkney to spot Puffins. Puffins actually have a very brief stay onshore between late-April and early-August.

What a beauty

We started our walk towards the amazing cliffs, birds were everywhere. Soon enough we spotted Puffins, this looked promising. Then more and more and more appeared, I love these guys, they are so easy to watch and allowed us to get really close.

After a while we started walking towards a short, stumpy sea stack which we were told could be covered in these colourful characters and low and behold when we reached it there they were, everywhere you looked along with hundreds of other kinds of birds. It was a pretty spectacular site.

Check out those feet
And that amazing beak

We scrambled down into the rocky cliffs and sat for ages watching these guys at our leisure.

Next day we were off to visit Noup Head and its beautiful lighthouse perched over the Atlantic Ocean.

This lighthouse was completed in 1898 by David A Stevenson, the last of the ‘Lighthouse Stevensons’ and first cousin of Robert Louis.

The cliffs here are an RSPB reserve and are home to breeding seabirds including guillemots, razorbills, fulmars, kittiwakes and gannets (I only know this cause I read it). And believe you me, once you get near those cliffs the noise and the smell and the sight is something else.

Bird City

There were thousands of sea birds here on the ledges below, I have never saw anything like it in my life, it was like sea bird city, its an incredible experience.

And some more of these guys!

This was another amazing cliff walk with such dramatic scenery.

Spectacular coastline

From here we visited the imposing Norland Castle, a must-see. This fortress was built during the 16th century and its remains are still very beautiful.

Norland Castle
Check out the amazing craftsmanship in this staircase

We then drove to the ‘abandoned village’ of Nether House and soon enough it was time to leave the very beautiful, very quiet, very peaceful, and very friendly Island of Westray.

The abandoned village

We were heading back to mainland Orkney as there were still a few sites we wanted to see and I needed to return to a certain place that stole a piece of my heart for one last time.

Ferry arriving to take us back
Sail Boats

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