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Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Island of Westray

Thought I’d introduce you to one of the other islands in Orkney. A couple of years ago I visited Westray, which is the second largest of the Orkney islands and has approximately 600 inhabitants. It has it’s own school, doctor, still has a fishing fleet, has two hotels (I had great fish and chips at the Pierowall Hotel in the village!), lots of beaches, and spectacular cliffs with thousands of seabirds including gannets and puffins.

Noup Head Lighthouse (see photo) completed building around late 1890s, a great place to see the sea birds and the surrounding cliffs are part of an RSPB Reserve.

Notland Castle (a ruin) was built around mid 1500s. And if memory serves me right it has good views of Pierowall Bay and village.

Here’s the blog of another incomer who sought to save his sanity by moving to Orkney - Malc’s website :

Westray web site:

Just off Westray is Papa Westray (referred to locally as Papay). This island is similar to Graemsay only larger being about 4.5 miles by 2 miles and more inhabitants (approx 60). It also has a thriving community and apparently has the oldest house in Orkney (according to the tourist blub anyway!) – the Knap of Howar (see photo below), dating from about 3600 BC. Um…. You wouldn’t want to be staying there now though – see the photo. But it is apparently older than Skara Brae and is equally well preserved.

Papay website:


  1. Having just dug down to the clay in our kitchen, I think a couple of days at the Knap may be just the thing. I think it's actually believed to be the oldest house in Europe.

  2. I didn't know that about the Knap. Only paid a brief visit to Papay a while ago. Must make a return visit sometime.