Eday is at the centre of Orkney’s North Isles and has a rich heritage and history to explore, as well as being at the forefront of research for the modern renewable energy industry.
Eight miles long, Eday is home to 150 people who are vastly outnumbered by the isle’s wildlife and bird population. There is upland moor, grasslands, freshwater lochs, including Mill Loch with its bird hide and a stunning coastland with beaches of sand, flagstone and boulder and dramatic cliffs. Eday’s yellow sandstone was quarried for St Magnus Cathedral and the Earl’s Palace in Kirkwall. The quarry is now a habitat for fuchsia, mosses and lichen.
Routes to historic and archaeological sites are guided by the signposted Eday Heritage Walk. There are visible remains from the Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Pictish and Norse periods. Highlights include Vinquoy Chambered Cairn and Bronze Age field boundaries and burnt mounds. The islet, the Calf of Eday, is also rich in remains.
Carrick House at Calf Sound is a 17th century laird’s house which witnessed the capture of Orkney pirate John Gow who ran aground as he prepared to attack the house. It is open to visitors at certain times in the summer. At the Red House Croft Restoration project you can view a threshing mill, grain drying kilns, a forge and get refreshed at the café. Eday Heritage Centre also offers refreshments and island artefacts, working models and an insight into island life through the Eday Oral History Project recordings. In the North School nautical displays include the control room of a submarine and items salvaged from sub HMS Otter.
The island’s past industries include kelp processing and peat which was sent to whisky distilleries in Scotland. The main industry now is livestock farming of sheep, cattle and small-scale chicken rearing and vegetable growing.
In recent years Eday has become the centre of the emerging tidal energy industry. The Fall of Warness, just off the island, sees marine currents race at 7.8 knots on a spring tide and is the focus of the European Marine Energy Centre's tidal test facility. EMEC offers eight test berths, connected by sub sea cables to the island. Companies including OpenHydro, Atlantis Resources Corporation and Tidal Generation Limited have all tested devices here.
There is a community co-operative shop, post office, resident nurse practitioner and school. The island also has a Gateway House, run by the Eday Partnership, which is aimed at letting people try island life before relocating permanently.
Eday has a daily ferry service and weekly flights to its London Airport. Car and bike hire is available as well as accommodation in B&Bs and a hostel.
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