More from Orkney

Calf of Eday lighthouse

Our Easter trip to Orkney was introduced in my previous post which covered our first day. The second was spent on the island of Eday. In comparison to Hoy, Eday is physically smaller and has much less to offer visitors – fortunately it does have a lighthouse at the north end, which overlooks the Calf of Eday. This was obviously our reason for choosing this island (we would have loved to go to Sanday, but the tide times weren’t going to tie in for visiting the lighthouse there). Finding somewhere to park for walking to the lighthouse wasn’t so easy. The map showed a trail along the coast and we eventually found somewhere further back than we’d hoped to set off from. Luckily the sun was out though and it was a really pleasant walk through a few fields before we reached the lighthouse. It’s in a fantastic location and the only other living creatures that appeared to be around were sheep and birds, which isn’t such a bad thing sometimes. Due to the ferry times we were then left with a few hours to kill on Eday when there wasn’t much else we could do, particularly when we had to consider that our little boy would need a sleep at some point and that the few places there were to go were closed. We had a good time on the beach though before we headed back.

Kirkwall west pier lighthouse

The remaining day and a half were spent on Orkney Mainland where we visited a few tourist attractions we’d not been to before. In addition to this, we had two lighthouses to visit. We were staying just on the outskirts of Kirkwall at Orkney Villas‘ The Courtyard, which was a perfect base to work from. The first of the lighthouses we visited was on the west pier in Kirkwall itself, so this was just a small stroll along the pier before we headed into the town to look around. It may not be the most impressive of lighthouses, but it has its own little charm. Having looked at older pictures of the lighthouse online it looks like it’s been spruced up a bit in recent years. This would probably be explained by the following inscription, which appears on a plaque on the lighthouse: “To commemorate the 200th anniversary of Kirkwall pier 1811-2011. Designed by Thomas Telford.”

brough of birsay
Brough of Birsay lighthouse


When Bob and I had last visited Orkney, we’d driven to Birsay and looked across to the tidal island, the Brough of Birsay, wondering if the tide was going in or out and whether we could make it across and back to bag the lighthouse at the top of the island. Me being more cautious than Bob when it comes to decision-making, we decided it would be too risky and that we’d have to visit again. So to be able to plan our visit around the tides this time was a bonus. We set off across the (sometimes slippery) path which becomes exposed at low tide to see the lighthouse. As I’ve found with every other tidal island I’ve ever been to, it was a great place. There are remains of ancient buildings just as you reach the island. We, of course, set straight off for the highest point where the lighthouse could be found. It is a stunning lighthouse with a really interesting design in an amazing location, so it was a joy to visit. Very few others who visit the Brough of Birsay seem to go that far (or at least they didn’t on that particular day), which makes it even more enjoyable. The views from the lighthouse of the neighbouring islands and the coastal landscape are very impressive. I would love to go back again some day.

hoy high.JPG
Hoy High lighthouse

So, that was it for our lighthouse bagging during our visit to Orkney. We did, however, get some good views of the two lighthouses on Graemsay, Hoy High and Hoy Low, from the ferry as we left though. We had tried to work out a way of getting a trip to Graemsay added to our itinerary for the weekend, but with the boat times it just wasn’t going to happen. Something for another time. Hoy High lighthouse stands tall and differs greatly in height from Hoy Low, which is a squat tower. Both designed by Alan Stevenson, there is no denying that they are beautiful structures. Hopefully one day we will get a much closer look at them.

hoy low.JPG
Hoy Low lighthouse

We were then treated to some wonderful views of the domineering cliffs of Hoy as well as the Old Man of Hoy as the ferry sailed past. That is the joy of taking that particular route on the ferry rather than the Gills Bay ferry.

We still have plenty left to see and do on the Orkney islands so expect more in the future at some point 🙂

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