North Ronaldsay is Orkney's most isolated island, lying further north than the southern tip of Norway. Famed for its seaweed eating sheep, the island has retained its distinct culture and traditions and is loved by residents and visitors alike.
In North Ronaldsay, you could be in another world. It is on the flight path for thousands of migrating birds, while around its shores pods of passing killer and pilot whales, porpoises and dolphins have been spotted. There's evidence of Iron-Age settlements at sites including the Broch of Burrian and many other eye-catching landmarks and attractions including the tallest land-based lighthouse in Britain. Its smaller cousin the Old Beacon, built in the 1780s, was featured in the BBC's popular Restoration Village series, winning the Scottish heat and a place in the country's heart. Today, former lighthouse buildings have been converted into stylish accommodation, a cafe, a working mill and a gift shop. There is also an exhibition on island life.
The North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory is the place to be to spot the various migrating birds, and there is also a food shop and bar, and a cafe open daily between 12pm and 2pm.
Along the coastal walks you'll be sure to encounter the island's sheep. They're used to meeting visitors! This ancient and hardy breed feed almost exclusively on seaweed from the foreshore outside a 13-mile stone dyke that surrounds the island. The meat is highly prized by top chefs for its unique gamey flavour and can be tasted in Orkney's many excellent restaurants. There’s also an annual festival celebrating the breed, which also gives volunteers the opportunity to help repair the island’s traditionally built stone sheep dyke.
Bike hire is available to help you get around this relatively small and flat island. Bikes can be picked up at the airport for £10 per day and can be booked by messaging 07809 770 082, or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
North Ronaldsay can be reached by a weekly car ferry from Kirkwall on Fridays and daily flights. There is also a ferry service on Tuesdays during the summer months that calls in via Papa Westray.
PLEASE NOTE: DUE TO COVID-19, THERE ARE CURRENTLY NO LIGHTHOUSE TOURS AVAILABLE AND THE LIGHTHOUSE CAFE IS CLOSED. THE ISLAND ARCHIVE IS ALSO CLOSED.