This area east and south east of Kirkwall is cattle country with its low-lying fertile farmland. It may not have a world heritage site but there are plenty of historical sites and attractive villages to explore.
The parish of St Andrews has a well-used community hall and a vibrant school. Near the hall, Mine Howe is a privately owned ancient sunken chamber below a mound. You can descend into the mysterious subterranean space down a steep stone staircase. Archaeologists have speculated about the purpose of the chamber which is surrounded by a ditch.
The area of Tankerness has good beaches for seeing seals and birds such as Arctic terns, and the Loch of Tankerness where oystercatchers, lapwings and curlews breed. The discovery of a charred hazelnut shell in 2007 in a Bronze Age mound in Tankerness was exciting evidence of Mesolithic activity in Orkney and was dated to 6820-6660 BC.
On the road to the peninsula of Deerness is Dingieshowe, a sandy isthmus where a mound is the site of a Viking parliament, known as a ting. Deerness has a shop and scattered dwellings. Drive on to the car park at the Gloup and you can see this blowhole and walk on to the Brough of Deerness if you can brave the narrow cliff track to the site of an early monastery and chapel ruins. Carry on the spectacular cliff path and you reach Mull Head, a scenic headland crowded with seabirds in summer with its World War One gunnery range. Further on again is the Covenanters’ Memorial tower erected to the memory of 200 religious prisoners who were being transported to the American colonies and lost their lives when they were shipwrecked in 1679. More tracks can be followed for a circular route back to the car park.
On the road back to Kirkwall is the harbour village of St Mary’s in Holm which was a prosperous fishing centre for the herring industry. It is now cut off from the North Sea by the Churchill Barriers.