Eday Eday


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.

Inside Explore Orkney

Tankerness House Gardens at the Orkney Museum in Kirkwall


Orkney's capital dates back to Norse times, in the 11th century, when it was called Kirkjuvagr (Church of the bay).

A view of Stromness from Brinkies Brae - image by Fionn McArthur


Stromness poet and author George Mackay Brown once wrote that the town's 'streets uncoiled like a sailor's rope from North to South'. Quaint closes and narrow old streets huddled between stone buildings of historical interest is the delight that is Stromness. Orkney’s second largest town is an architectural gem that inspires artists and writers and is a favourite with visitors.

Sunrise over Mull Head in Orkney - image by Rick Fleet

East Mainland

The area east and south east of Kirkwall is cattle country, with low lying and fertile farmland. Although the East Mainland doesn't have a World Heritage Site, it does have its own nature reserve, sea caves, beaches, historical sites and attractive villages to explore.

Sunrise over a west mainland loch in Orkney

West Mainland

Orkney's West Mainland hosts a collection of some of the finest archaeological sites to be found anywhere in Europe. It's home to the Heart of Neolithic Orkney UNESCO World Heritage Site, and welcomes thousands of visitors every year.

This wind turbine was one of the first installed in the east mainland


Burray is a small island linked to the east mainland of Orkney and South Ronaldsay by the Churchill Barriers. Once only accessible by boat, the farming and fishing community is now linked forever by the causeways.

Hoxa in South Ronaldsay has spectacular views over Scapa Flow

South Ronaldsay

After you cross the fourth and final Churchill Barrier, you'll arrive in the largest settlement outside Kirkwall in the east, the attractive harbour village of St Margaret’s Hope in South Ronaldsay.

Wartime defences at Stanger Head in Flotta


Flotta is an island that has changed much over the years. From its role at the very heart of Orkney's military history to the building of the Flotta Oil Terminal in the 1970s, it has always played an important part in our economy and heritage.

Looking across to the Kame in Hoy

Hoy and Graemsay

Hoy is Orkney’s second largest island and dramatically rises from the sea with mountainous moorland and glacial valleys, appearing more like a highland landscape than a typical Orkney low-lying island.

North Ronaldsay's new lighthouse at Dennis Head

North Ronaldsay

The island's unique seaweed eating sheep, an Old Beacon featured on prime time television and the flight path for thousands of migratory birds have all helped put North Ronaldsay on the map.

At the pier in Papa Westray

Papa Westray

Take the world’s shortest scheduled flight and see northern Europe’s oldest house on one of Orkney’s smallest inhabited islands with a big community heart.

Rousay boasts a spectacular coastline - image by Max Fletcher

Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre

Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre host some of Orkney's most magical archaeological and historical sites - with ancient brochs, cairns and tales of Vikings.

An aerial view of the Holms of Ayre in Sanday


Sanday by name and sandy by nature, the largest island of Orkney’s North Isles has beautiful sandy bays and dunes, turquoise seas and a gentle, fertile landscape.

A view of Balfour Castle in Shapinsay


Shapinsay is only a 25-minute ferry ride from Kirkwall but the atmosphere of this small Orkney island can be soaked up even before you step ashore.

A view across to Whitehall pier in Stronsay


Stronsay is a beautiful island to visit and live on with magical sandy beaches backed by dunes, a stunning coastline and a main settlement with grand houses dating back to the herring fishery days.

A view of the Rapness ferry terminal at the south end of Westray


Westray is known as the Queen o’ the Isles and is a vibrant place to live, work and visit.