North Ronaldsay Lighthouse
COVID-19 UPDATE: There are currently no lighthouse tours and the lighthouse cafe is closed.
Sometimes it's the smaller, more unique places that have the greatest stories to tell.
North Ronaldsay is definitely a destination that fits the bill. Not only does it have its own native flock of seaweed-eating sheep, it also has the UK's tallest land-based lighthouse.
The lighthouse was built in the mid 1800s and is the last stop in Orkney before Fair Isle and Shetland beyond. The beautiful old red brick building has stood strong against all kinds of weathers, much like its predecessor, the Old Beacon, which is shrouded in scaffolding nearby.
The current lighthouse is automated but is still very much a focal point for the island. Tours are available, including a trek up the 176 steps to the top for stunning 360 degree sea views. There is also a small visitor centre, cafe and gift shop at the lighthouse too. The nearby wool mill is always busy processing yarn collected from North Ronaldsay's distinctive sheep, which live year-round on the rocky shore. You can also stay at the lighthouse in one of two self-catering Assistant Lighthouse Keepers Cottages.
The chance to go island hopping is one of the great things about a visit to Orkney. The fight to North Ronaldsay takes you over some stunning locations, including Stronsay, Eday and Sanday, before the last stop appears on the horizon with its lighthouse guiding the way.