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.
The village itself has everything you need - Pentland Ferries runs its catamaran ferry service to Gill’s Bay near John o’ Groats from 'the Hope'. There is an art gallery and craft shop, hotels, an award-winning restaurant, a golf course and the William Hourston Smiddy Museum. Films and live drama are regularly put on in the Cromarty Hall. In August the traditional Boys’ Ploughing Match and Festival of the Horse is held. There are gentle sandy bays nearby at Sands o’ Wright and at Herston. At Hoxa Head you can explore the remains of World War One and Two gun batteries and look across Scapa Flow to the isle of Flotta - you might even see porpoises passing by.
South of the village, as far as you can go is Burwick Pier where you can take a foot ferry to John o’ Groats in the summer. You will also find the Tomb of the Eagles, a Neolithic chambered tomb which was uncovered on a farm. The family-owned visitor centre offers a welcoming talk when you can handle artefacts before making your way on a stunning coastal path to the tomb, where eagle talons were found amongst the burial. Also in the area is the recently opened Skerries Bistro restaurant, which is situated next to the Banks Chambered Tomb.
South Ronaldsay is one of the linked South Isles, which are connected to each other by the manmade causeways, the Churchill Barriers, built by Italian prisoners-of-war during World War Two. The linked isles are Glimps Holm, Burray and Lamb Holm - home of the famous Italian Chapel, a work of art created inside two Nissen huts. The barriers have helped create beautiful beaches, especially at the third and fourth barriers.
Inside Explore Orkney
Orkney's capital dates back to Norse times, in the 11th century, when it was called Kirkjuvagr (Church of the bay).More
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.More
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.More
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.More
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.More
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.More
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.More
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.More
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.More
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.More
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.More
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.More
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.More
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.More
Westray is known as the Queen o’ the Isles and is a vibrant place to live, work and visit.More