Windwick, South Ronaldsay, Orkney
A beautiful bay where seal pups thrive and spectacular seas can crash ashore during the autumn and winter.
The linked south isles of Burray and South Ronaldsay lie across the Churchill Barriers, giant concrete causeways constructed during World War Two to protect Scapa Flow from enemy attack. They're both beautiful islands to visit but we're turning our focus to South Ronaldsay and a place with its own wartime heritage.
Windwick is a small spot found on the east coast of the island as you travel south along the main road. Follow the road signs and windy road and you'll eventually reach a small car park. Beyond is a stunning scene - a rocky shore at the head of a wide bay, complete with rolling waves, jagged sea-stacks and looming cliffs.
Stop for a while to take it all in, and if you catch it on a wild day, the views are even more spectacular. During the summer months you'll see seabirds surrounding the cliffs of Hesta Head, and the autumn brings grey seals into shore for the pupping season.
The bay also forms part of an excellent network of walks in South Ronaldsay. The east-coast route takes you up onto the cliffs overlooking Windwick so you can get a better view of the sea-stacks, seabirds and other geological delights as you head north. Take care when walking though as conditions can be tricky.
As for the area's wartime history, in January 1918 two Royal Navy destroyers, HMS Narborough and HMS Opal, were on patrol east of Orkney and got caught in a blizzard. In the stormy conditions both vessels ended up wrecked on the rocks at Windwick with the loss of 188 men. Only one sailor survived. The tragic event is marked with a small memorial at the car park. Find out more about the loss of both ships via our blog.
A visit to Windwick is a must if you're passing through South Ronaldsay and, like many places in Orkney, you can enjoy history, heritage and stunning scenery, all in one place.