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Library of Hoy Walks

Finding helpful information on routes and paths to walk on the island of Hoy is not easy: we managed to find just three walking guides with the same two or three walks described in each of them.

 So, here are details of a dozen walks – long and short, circular and linear – which can be undertaken during a stay here.

If you are looking for a particular location you can search the entire text on this page.  If you are still at the planning stage you may want to download a pdf version of this guide in which case just click on the image to the right to do so.

 At the end of the page you will find a map for the Scottish  Wildlife Trust reserve named the Hills of White Hamars which is mentioned briefly within the “South Walls” walks towards the end of the guide.

WoH cover

If you visit for a day you

will wish you could stay

 
If you have only one day to spend walking on Hoy and viewing its natural and geological highlights we would suggest that you plan to take the walk through Rackwick Glen  to Rackwick itself.  You are then ideally positioned to strike northwards to view what is perhaps Hoy’s most recognized landmark, The Old Man of Hoy.  From there you may walk further northwards towards St.John's Head,the highest  vertical sea-cliff in the UK.  The final stage of your walk will be directly eastward to the Cuilags from which you can not also enjoy an extensive vista of the entire Orkney Islands but also Hoy Sound and the historic natural harbour of Scapa Flow too.

This is the first of the walks described on this webpage


For those fortunate enough to be staying on Hoy for longer, any or all of these sights – and many others besides - can be enjoyed together or separately according to the time at your disposal.

 

Index of Walks

Walk Location

Page

 

 

Betty Corrigal’s Grave

  9

Brims

19

Burn of Quoys

  5

Cantick Head

18

Cuilags

  4

Dwarfie Stane

  5

Flotta

20

Graemsay

22

Hackness Martello Tower

18

Heldale Water

13

Lyness - Scapa Flow Centre

11

Lyness Naval Cemetery

11

Lyrawa Hill

  9

Melsetter

13

Old Man of Hoy

  3

Osmundwall

18

Rackwick

  3

Scad Head

  9

Snelsetter (Hills of White Hamars)

18

St. John’s Head

  3

Tor Ness Lighthouse

13

Ward Hill (Around)

  5

Ward Hill (Up)

  7

Wee Fea (Lyness)

11

 

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Old Man


The Old Man of Hoy (and St.John’s Head)  via  Rackwick

 

Map OMoH

 

Rackwick Glen A rough path through the hills to Rackwick. Length: 8 miles/14km (there and back.

 

Old Man of Hoy A coastal walk leading from Rackwick Glen to a spectacular sea stack. Length: 6 miles/9.6km; Height Climbed: 550ft/165m.

 

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Rackwick Glen and Old Man of Hoy combined: Length: 14 miles/23.6km (there and back).

 

The passenger ferry from Stromness lands at Moaness pier. (NB: Mini- buses and taxis are available to take you to/from Rackwick for the Rackwick Glen and Old Man of Hoy Walks.).

 

Follow the road from Moaness pier uphill, ignoring all side turnings, until the road bends right below steep-faced Ward Hill and Cuilags. (NB: If you have been driven this far; subtract 2 miles/ 4.4km from the walk lengths).

 

Keep straight ahead on a hard track with a footpath sign for Rackwick. Cross the burn draining Sandy Loch by stepping across stone gabions downstream of the dam. Continue along the sunken, sandy path beside  the loch, when a small cairn is soon reached, marking a shallow col.

 

Beyond the cairn the rough path runs downhill. mainly on one side or the other of the indented old track.  Berriedale is the deeply- incised stream valley across the glen. Its lower stretches contain a remnant of the native scrub woodland that once covered much of Orkney

 

Beyond a bridge over Rackwick Burn, join a tarmac road and turn right for Rackwick, an old crofting settlement on a dramatically beautiful bay. At a fork, branch left for the car park and toilets behind the beach or right for the Youth Hostel and Old Man of Hoy path

 

Onward to the Old Man of Hoy

If on foot, walk past the Youth Hostel and follow a path signposted for the Old Man of Hoy. The first building on the left contains a folk history display. The path then weaves uphill between croft houses and forks right below a turf-roofed building — the Crow’s Nest Museum. If arriving by car, start from the car park near the beach and follow the hard track that is a continuation of the road then bend right up a green lane to meet the Old Man of Hoy path just below the Crow’s Nest Museum. The path passes a final cottage then goes through a kissing gate on to the open heather-covered hillside. It steadily climbs above the cliffs on the west side of Rackwick Bay. At the crest there is suddenly a view to the Old Man of Hoy. The path crosses stony ground, keeping its height above the lower ground to the left. then veers towards the sea stack. Take great care by the cliffs, especially on the natural promontory that juts out towards the Old Man — a great place for photographs if you have a head for heights. Return by the same route.

 

And, if you wish, on again  to St.John’s Head and the Cuilags

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From the cliffs overlooking the Old Man there is a path going northeast.  Take this, keeping close to the cliffs and climbing steeply as you approach St John’s Head.  The route passes massive cliffs, amongst the highest in Britain as you veer off to the east to gain the highest point of the hill at 378m.  The summit of  St. John’s Head is marked by a cairn and an OS trig point, which is set about half a mile east from the cliff edge.

From the summit follow the broad ridge to the southeast passing a pool and continuing along to a col between the broad corries of Back Saddles to the south and the rocky cliffs of  Enegars to the north.

From the col turn to the doutheast, climbing again to the wonderful corrie of Cuilages.  The summit is again marked by a cairn, and is at 453m.

The easiest route off the Cuilags is down the long south ridge.  It is pathless for the most part but mainly heather and grass, so the going is not too difficult.  As you descend you may wish to bear off to the left slightly as there is a path running through the glen, which you should be able to see and that is easy to gain.

Once you reach this path you are, in fact on the old Post Road along which you began your walk.  Turn left, that is northwards, to return to the car park or Moaness Pier.

 

Dwarfie Stane


Around Ward Hill to Dwarfie Stane and tree reserve walk at the Burn of Quoys

 

The passenger ferry from Stromness lands at Moaness pier. (NB: Mini- buses and taxis are available to take you to/from Rackwick for the Rackwick Glen and Old Man of Hoy Walks.).

Follow the road from Moaness pier uphill, ignoring all side turnings, until the road bends right below steep-faced Ward Hill and Cuilags. (NB: If you have been driven this far; subtract 2 miles/ 4.4km from the walk lengths).

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Map Rackwick Dwarfie

Keep straight ahead on a hard track with a footpath sign for Rackwick. Cross the burn draining Sandy Loch by stepping across stone gabions downstream of the dam. Continue along the sunken, sandy path beside the loch, when a small cairn is soon reached, marking a shallow col.

Beyond the cairn the rough path runs downhill. mainly on one side or the other of the indented old track.  Berriedale is the deeply- incised stream valley across the glen. Its lower stretches contain a remnant of the native scrub woodland that once covered much of Orkney

Beyond a bridge over Rackwick Burn, where the path joins a tarmac road, turn left to head back towards Moaness.  Rich roadside vegetation and evidence of extensive peat cutting are to be seen, as well as the deep glen cut into the side of Ward Hill (on your left).  On the opposite side of the road from this glen you will see another, called Trowie Glen and, to the east of it, the other (largely forgotten) stone of Hoy: the Partick Stane.

A little further along the road you will see the signs and car park for more famous Dwarfie Stane (visible to your right.  There is a footpath/boardwalk leading all the way to this chambered tomb and signage which provides more information on the stone.

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After this brief diversion continue on along the road (in a northerly direction) passing the White Glen tree plantation at Whaness.  This was once an experimental Forestry Commission plantation of conifer trees, and subsequently suffered quite badly from a moorland fire in 1984.  It is now in the hands of the RSPB who are replanting the area with native deciduous trees taken from stock which has grown naturally in the Berriedale area (which you passed earlier in your walk).

To see how these trees will progress you will need to walk just a little further to the Woodland Trust Burn of Quoy site.

Continue on up the Rackwick Road until you meet the crossroad.  Turn sharp left up the B9047 towards the Outdoor Centre.  A couple of hundred metres up this road you will see a disused quarry to your left and on your right a kissing-gate: go through it into the reserve.  Here you will be able to see almost all of Orkney’s native tree species: Downy Birch, Rowan, Hazel and various Willows and Roses (only the Aspen tree is missing).

On the other (east) side of the reserve are two exits a basic stile and a kissing gate.  Exit through either of these and turn left (on the B9049).  Shortly you will see a sign for the Post Office.  You can either follow this road down to the beach and from there back to Moaness Pier or, if you prefer continue north along the main road to the T-junction where you should turn to your right to get back to the pier.

 

Ward Hill Cairn

Up Ward Hill: to the highest point in Orkney

 

Length: 15.7km/9.8 miles

Duration: 5-6 hours

OS Explorer 462; or OS Landranger 6 or 7

Map and compass skills required.                          

 

NOTE: The ferry from Stromness (Mainland) to Moaness (Hoy) is passenger only

A superb hill walk to the highest point of Hoy.

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Map Ward Hill ascent

 

From the pier at Moaness follow the lane out to a junction with the B9047. Ignore all turns to right and left and simply stay on the dead ahead, going just south of west towards the big glen between Ward Hill and Cuilags.

 

Follow this lane as it climbs quite steeply uphill. Near the top of the hill, just before you reach Sandy Loch, the road turns sharply to the right. Ignore this and take the track going straight ahead.

 

The track crosses a little stream on the right, iust beneath the dam of Sandy Loch, then turns left to run along the northwestern side of the loch itself. Beyond the Ioch the route climbs very slightly to a col, then begins to take you down into the Glens of Kinnaird overlooking Rackwick. As you go over the col you will notice an obvious heathery ridge coming down from the left, to the right of a broad corrie. Turn south off the path and aim for this ridge.

 

Once on the ridge the climbing is steep, and the ridge itself curves around to the southeast high above Red Glen.  As you gain height the gradient eases slightly, until you are on a broad ridge to the southwest of the summit of Ward Hill.  Turn first east along the ridge, then northeast, climbing again now as you make for the summit of Ward Hill.  The top has an OS trig pillar and it is at 479m.  This is the highest point in the whole of the Northern Isles. 

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From the summit head northwest down a steep ridge.  As you drop down, veer off to the left slightly, aiming for Sandy Loch.  The going is easier this way, as to continue down the ridge itself involves some loose rock.  Once at Sandy Loch walk around it anticlockwise to the dam at the northern end.

 

From this point, pick up the track and then the road back to Moaness.

 

Betty Corrigal headstone

Lyrawa Hill, Scad Head and Betty Corrigal’s Grave

 

A Circular Walk

 

Length:                  4 km / 2  miles

Duration:               1 - 1  hours

OS Explorer 462; or OS Landranger 6 or 7

 

Map Scad Hill 1

This ia a short but vigorous walk from a hill viewpoint to a coastal defence battery, returning via the track of a cable-operated railway.

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The Lyrawa Hill viewpoint, halfway along the east coast of Hoy, is signed off the B9047 just north of Betty Corrigal’s grave. From the parking place, 400m up the track, you can see in an arc from Stromness to Flotta.

 

Walk down to the ruined buildings on the left then continue diagonally downhill, staying above the steepest part of the hillside. Keep on to the old railway track, marked by a couple of posts, and follow it downhill. At the bottom, take a green path that swings right to the complex of WWII buildings on Scad Head.

 

Map Scad Head 2

 

The southern end of the Houton Boom terminated at the bottom of the cliffs at Scad Head, and here a battery of  guns was installed to which would provide A.M.T.B (Motor Torpedo Boat) protection for the boom and Brings Deep’s. 

 Because of its position a light railway operated by cables was laid down the cliff side, together with a small jetty to facilitate re-supply of the battery.

The gun emplacement, director tower, engione room and searchlight houses all survive.  There are also fragments of track and remains of the winding  gear from the light-railway, and dumped on the foreshore are several railway trucks.  Close by the old camp site one of the 12-pounder emplacements survives.

 Return to the track and follow it straight uphill, passing the rusted winch wheel. Go through a gate at the top and left along the road. Before taking the track to Lyrawa Hill, go 150m further to leam the sad story of Betty Corrigal’s suicide.

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icon wee fea

Lyness Museum, Arctic Convoy Memorial,  Naval Cemetery and Wee Fea

A Circular Walk  

Map Wee Fea

 

Start /Finish                              Park at Hoy Hotel or Lyness Museum

Distance                                   5 km / 3 miles

Time                                         1 -  2  hours

Maps                                        OS Explorer 462; OS Landranger 7

 

If possible, choose a calm, clear day for this panorama of WWII structures from the viewpoint high above Lyness.

 

The vehicle ferry to Hoy sails from Houton on Mainland to Lyness. From Lyness pier head up the road to the Scapa Flow Visitors Centre (also known as the Lyness Museum. 

 

Either, before you start or, when you have completed your walk, as top at the Centre should prove a fascinating interlude.  Here you will be able to gain a glimpse of what life was like on Hoy was like during the second World War when Scapa Flow became a major centre for naval operations in these

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northern waters both as a blockade to the German Grand Fleet and in connection with the Arctic Convoys to Russia,  Admission is free.

 You can also indulge in a “cuppa” tea or coffee and a snack at the caferia located within the Centre.

 Our suggestion would be that, from the Centre, you head north – following what is left of the railway track – in order to have a brief view of what remains of the naval complex here, including a trip into the air-raid shelter.  The road curves round until it meets the island’s main north-south road.

 A few steps along this road on the left hand side will be found the Naval Cemetery which is the final resting place for nearly 600 dead from two world wars.

 On the opposite side of the cemetery from the main entrance is another gate.  Pass through this gate and along the access path which brings you to a T-junction. By turning right the hard track which will leads up to Wea Fea the WW2 Naval Communication Centre and Signal Station,

 Climb steeply beside a stunted pine plantation then turn left to the car park. There is a fine view over the South Isles, including Fara, Flotta and Switha. Walk back above an old military building then turn left, uphill, on a track. It bends left past old peat cuttings. Keep right at a fork and follow the track until it levels out and ends. Cut across the heather moorland to a line of concrete fence posts and follow them downhill to a little shed, avoiding a cave-like entrance to a bunker. Turn left below it on to a green track that contours back around the hillside to the picnic site.

If you have the time stop here for a while to enjoy both a picnic at the tables located there and, especially, the view over Scapa Flow.

 

Just prior to reaching the Centre you will see on your left a memorial to the merchant  seamen who lost their lives during WW2 whilst serving on the Arctic Convoys.


 


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Heldale Water, Tor Ness Lighthouse and Melsetter

A Circular Walk

 

Start /Finish                              Park slightly east of the Heldale / B9047 T-junction

Distance                                   17.7 km / 11 miles

Time                                          6 – 7 hours

Maps                                         OS Explorer 462; OS Landranger 7

Note                                           Map and compass skills helpful

Map Heldale

Start by following the good track northwestwards across the moor from the signposted access track to Heldale Water. The going is easy, and the gradient slight. Keep to the north side of the Bum of Heldale, and soon reach a building beside a junction. Ignore the track cutting up the hillside to the right, towards Binga Fea, but instead go straight ahead. dropping slightly to cross the burn‘

The track continues to the eastern end ol Heldale Water. Your route takes you further westwards to the coast, and to get there you must walk alongside Heldale Water. I usually go along the south side of the loch, beneath the steep ground oi Skird Hill, but it is slightly easier, though longer, to walk along the north bank.


 Either way, you'll end up at the western end of Heldale Water. Now cut across the open moor to the southwest, aiming for the rocky hills at Sweinn Geo.  Cross a stream just before the cliff tops, then turn southwards along the coast.


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The walking here is marvelous, and takes you into parts of the island little visited by other walkers:  Continue beyond the Needle, a huge spike of rock set in a narrow gulf at the base of the cliffs, then on southwards towards the bay at Ha Wick.

 

As you approach Ha Wick the ground drops away, and the cliffs on your right become much lower.  You get a view of the lighthouse on Tor Ness dead ahead, and a short walk will bring you up to its base,

 

The headland itself is a wonderful spot, and just around it to the east big dunes have built up behind Sheep Skerry.

 

Walk: eastwards across these dunes and you'll pick up a track. Follow this northeastwards turning left at the first junction to take you to Melsetter.

 

Now walk: out along the driveway to the farm, past Melsetter House*, to gain the B9047 overlooking a huge beach on North Bay. Turn left along the road and follow it around North Bay bad: to your car at Heldale

 

*Note:  It is possible to tour Melsetter House.  However, this is only possible on Thursdays and by prior appointment.

 

icon west coast

West

Coast Walk –

From Rackwick to Melsetter

 

Start /Finish              This is NOT a circular walk.  Park at either Rackwick Bay or Brims/Melsetter/Heldale and arrange a lift to            your chosen start or /finish point.

Distance                    12 km / 7 miles

Time                           6 – 7 hours

Maps                          OS Explorer 462; OS Landranger 7

Note                          Map and compass skills essential.

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The really energetic can try 0rkney’s most spectacular walk, which goes south from Rackwick to Torness (ND254884), This walk takes in very magnificent cliff scenery: with very fine views across the Pemland Firth.  It will take a whole day due to the distance involved (12km, 7 miles) and rough terrain, With the many cliff views to admire. care must be taken to leave plenty of time.

Sneuk waterfall

This picture of the Sneuk waterfall also demonstrates why there is sometimes  a need to detour inland!

 

 

After passing "Willie Young’s Cairn" below the summit of Mel Fea (324m). the route passes several spectacular geos. including Lyrie Geo. where young men from Rackwick used to catch Manx Shearwaters, The Summer of Hoy Burn (ON Sunn-moerr),  South March or Border) which, when full, forms a spectacular waterfall next to the Sneuk (ON Snokr. Snout 165m).

 

 

Further south the Burn of Forse (ND220948) has a large colony of Great Black- backed Gulls in summer.  Little Rackwick is the first easily accessible beach south of Rackwick This shingle storm beach is the final resting place of several wrecks and much flotsam.  Fishermen from Rackwick and Brims also used to pull up their yoles (traditional Orkney sailing dingies) here in fine weather

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To the south there are a series of geos. many with inaccessible storm beaches. caves and cliffs, before Berry Head (ND237909. 175m) is reached with us spectacular red cliffs. To the east are the Berry Lochs with Red-throated Divers in summer, while to the south there are several spectacular geos before the rough shores of Ha Wick with their many wrecks are reached The is a small sandy beach here..

 

There is an excellent sandy beach below Melsetter (ON Moir Setr, Sand Homestead) with sand dimes and a fine walk out to the point at Torness (ND255885). where there is sometimes a large Arctic Tern colony in the breeding season The lighthouse here was installed in l937. Before the light was installed this was a veritable graveyard for ships, especially trawlers returning fiom lcelandic waters

 

In attempting to avoid the worst part the ”Merry Men o’ Mey‘ or the "Auld  Ebbs" of the Pentland Firth by skirting the coastline of South Walls, it was all too easy to miss the low-lying shores of Ha Wick and Tor Ness and be carried ashore by tide and sea.  The installation of the light was itself the probable cause of the loss of the Johanna Torden on Swona in 1937 as the master was unaware of the new light mistaking it for the south Swona light

 

Walk eastwards across these dunes and you'll pick up a track. Follow this northeastwards turning left at the first junction to take you to Melsetter.

 

Now walk out along the driveway to the farm, past Melsetter House, to gain the B9047 overlooking a huge beach on North Bay.

 

Hackness Martello Tower

 

South Walls

- still almost

an island

 

Start /Finish                  Car parks: The Ayre, Snelsetter and  at Osumundwall

Distance                      17.7 km / 11 miles

Time                             6 – 7 hours

Maps                            OS Explorer 462; OS Landranger 7

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Map South Walls

 

Perhaps some of the island’s most spectacular coastal and sea views are to be found at Snelsetter on the almost separate island of South Walls. It is less than a century since a causeway (The Ayre) was constructed to provide a permanent connection between South Walls and its larger neighbour of Hoy. Just beyond The Ayre on the South Walls side can be found the first of three car parks from which this walk – or a series of shorter walks – can be commenced: simply look for the “Footpath” sign.  Any of the paths in this area are readily identifiable

 If you imagine the map to be a clock face, the entire coastal edge from 9 o’clock, moving in an anti-clockwise direction, through to 12 o’clock is packed with a vast variety of attractions to be seen.

 

primula scottica

 

 

Nature provides, according to the seasons, passing whales and dolphins, a family of otters, the rare primula scotica (Scottish Primrose), breeding seals and their pups, nesting birds, rabbits and a hedgehog or two.

 

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The geology of the landscape offers some unusual rock formations, sea caves, a waterfall, natural arches and two large (and clearly marked) gloups (large openings in the ground where the roofs of caves have collapsed).

 

snelsetter waterfall

 

For the archaeologist and historian there is ample evidence to be seen by way of burial mounds, barrows, a “fortified” sea stack, a  “Stevenson” lighthouse, a Martello Tower and Battery, an ancient family mausoleum, an impressive lifeboat crew memorial and the site of a Viking Saga conversion to Christianity.

 

candle snelsetter

cantick

“The Candle” at Snelsetter

Cantick Head Lighthouse

RNLI memorial


Martello drawing

R.N.L.I Memorial, Osmundwall

Martello Tower, Hackness

 

Given the three car parks at the Ayre, Snelsetter and Kirkhope Bay (Osmundwall) this walk can be conveniently  split into three sections should you so desire.   These would be from the Ayre to Snelsetter, Snelsetter and Osmundwall, and finally the Cantick Head peninsula (from Kirkhope Bay)

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Brims icon


Brims –

The Lifeboat Museum and walk

 

Start /Finish                          Brims Lifeboat Museum

Distance                               8 km / 5 miles

Time                                     2 - 3 hours

Maps                                    OS Explorer 462; OS Landranger 7

 

Map Brims

 

Brims is the southernmost point on the island of Hoy and is the home of the Lifeboat Museum as well as a treasure trove of sites  of archaeological interest.

 

There is no readily identifiable path.  It is rather a question of choosing the most manageable route around the coastline from the Lifeboat Museum  in a clockwise direction until the Melberry sand dunes are reached.

 

The walk can be shortened should you so wish.  In this case you will miss the natural arch and the Old Head but still have the opportunity to see the

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Chapel Ruins and Burial Ground and evidence of the possible brock at The Skeo.

 

Flotta Cinema

 

Flotta –

The flatter island

(from Old Norse)

 

Start /Finish                          Flotta Ferry Terminal

Distance                               Short: 8 km / 5 miles

             Long: 12 km / 7 miles  :

Time                                      2 - 4 hours

Maps                                     OS Explorer 462; OS Landranger 7

 

 

Flotta can be reached by ferry from both Houton on the mainland and from Lyness in Hoy.  But beware not all ferry sailing go directly to Flotta from their departure point; so please check the timetables and the crew if you are in anyway unsure! 

 

A circuit of Flotta’s moorland and wartime defences and a climb to the island’s highest point for a fine view.  For more energetic walkers (and depending upon the departure time of your return ferry from Lyness or Houton) the extended route to the islands most south-easterly point, the wartime port signal station and gunnery position at Stanger Head, is also included.

Flotta flare

On arrival, the gates of Flotta’s oil terminal lie straight ahead and its flare can be seen from many parts of Orkney.

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Map Flotta

From the pier go right along the road and turn first right to walk below a ruined cinema (built to entertain the thousands of military personnel based here during WWII). Keep to the shore where the road divides and pass a second pier. The only building on the west coast is by the airstrip which was built to transport workers during the construction of the oil terminal. Look out for two mock guns and a cannon near the road. Where the road bends left along the south coast, there are several wartime structures — a pump house, lookouts and gun batteries — with views to little Switha and larger South Ronaldsay.

 
If you are taking the short circular tour you should now continue through a gateway and pass Balaclava Farm then follow a minor road uphill to the staggered crossroads in the centre of the island. On the way, the road bends alternately right, left, right and then left again to reach the crossroads. (NB: lf, whilst taking the short walk, you have time to spare, you may wish to make a 3km detour from the crossroads to the small visitor centre by the post office: to reach it head east then take the signed left turn in half a mile.  The longer walk passes the road as a part of its itinerary.)

 At this point the longer and short tours will rejoin each other.

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The longer circular walk does not take the final left hand turn but, instead turns right and follows the road south and then east past the church and towards Castlewell.  From there join the track which heads southeast to Stanger Head.  After viewing the tower, gun emplacements and appreciating its position as a defensive command centre for the entire southern limits of Scapa Flow take the other track, going northwards past Hillside and back to the main road (B9046).  At the road turn left passing signed the turnoff on your right, for the Post Office and adjacent Visitors Centre.  Continue until you reach the crossroads.

 At the crossroads, turn left past a phone box and head uphill

 Near the top of West Hill, fork right on a hard track to reach the summit.  Flotta is the only place in Orkney where you can see Kirkwall and Stromness simultaneously. After enjoying the 360 view from the trig point, go almost straight ahead to a narrow gap between two fences. Walk downhill over heather for a quarter of a mile then go right through a gate. Follow a hard track to the road then turn left back to the pier.

 

Graemsay

Graemsay

with its two

lighthouses

A Circular Walk

 

Start /Finish          Graemsay Pier

Distance               9.6 km / 6 miles

Time                     3 – 4 hours

Maps                    OS Explorer 462; OS Landranger 7

 

To get to Graemsay it is necessary to catch the ferry from either Stromness or from Moaness Pier, Hoy.  But beware the sailings are circular so you need to be certain that the vessel is sailing in the direction you wish to take.

On the passenger ferry from Stromness you can see Graemsay’s two lighthouses, called Hoy Low and Hoy High. Alan Stevenson, uncle of author Robert Louis Stevenson, built them in 1851 as leading lights for ships entering the harbour of Stromness from Hoy Sound

 

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Follow the road from the pier, passing near to Hoy High lighthouse then swing left to Sandside’s white beach. Note the Stevenson pier, built to bring in stone for the lighthouses

.

Map Graemsay

 

Keep right at the next junction, passing the green community centre. Where the road bends hard left, walk straight ahead, passing a picnic table.  A stony track takes you down to Hoy Low lighthouse. To access the shore, walk left round the perimeter wall and through two gates, Visit the WWII lookout post or explore the rocky point for pieces of crockery from the Albion, shipwrecked here in 1866.

 

Return to the road and turn right. At a T-junction, go right and walk all the way down to the disused church and picnic table by the sea. To reach the ferry by road, return uphill and walk straight across the island then turn right by the community centre.

 
For a shorter but rougher return, turn right 300m above the shore on to a farm track. Walk between two crofts and straight on down a green lane to the east coast; you may need to step over two low fences if sheep are grazing here. Walk left for 250m to another green lane that runs diagonally inland between fences. Initially wet, it soon becomes firmer. Follow it up to the road and turn right back to the pier. 

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For your safety

 

We feel certain that you will enjoy your visit to the islands of Hoy, South Walls and Flotta and Graemsay too.

 
Wherever you may be walking we would ask you to remember these simple guidelines:

   Cliffs can be dangerous so please be careful at all times near the cliffs and make sure that children and dogs are closely supervised.

     Beware of the tides which come in and go out twice each day.

 Some of these walks will go over rough and uneven ground, so wear suitable footwear.

The weather does sometimes change very quickly so always be prepared and take warm and waterproof clothing.

        Some birds will protect their nest so you may need to mind your head.  (Taking a cap or hat to wear may prove useful.

 

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