Stromness north cycle route
The Orkney Islands are located just 15 miles or so north of Caithness, off the north east tip of mainland Scotland. They can be reached by air from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness, and by road in 4-5 hours from Inverness, including the ferry crossing, there are ferries to most of the inhabited islands and airfields servicing local flights, as well as daily roll-on/roll-off ferries connections
The route described here is part of the multi-country North Sea Cycle Route and the National Cycle Network and are being signed as Route 1 with blue cycle signs.
From Stromness A965 to the A967 to the hamlet of Quholm, heading north east on Orkney, Washington Irving, noted American author, was born in Quholm.
The coastal ayres of Lairo Water and the Ouse situated within Veantro Bay.
Innsker Beach is situated very close by at the Northwest edge of Quholm.
There are significant archaeological sites not distant from Quholm, including Odin's Stone, Burroughston Broch, Linton Chapel, Castle Bloody and Mor Stein.
Past Loch Clumly a trout fishing Loch averaging over 2 lbs, and the fishing it is reserved for OTFA members only.
At the junction take the B9055 to the B9056 following Loch Skaill, Follow the brown tourist signs for the reserve along the minor road that connects the B9056 and A986.
The geology gives rise to sandstones and flagstones which split easily along bedding planes and are therefore ideal for building purposes, this is a fertile well cultivated,area.
Carry on past Birsay bay, Reach this very special tidal island by causeway where fresh coastal waters are rich in plankton and fish, explore Pictish, Norse and medieval remains, the Brooches, rings and dress pins found on the Brough of Birsay suggest that it was a Pictish power centre, offering centuries of history.
Take a short stroll to the small lighthouse at the crest of the island, above dramatic Sea Cliffs, with moors and marshland, home to over a million seabirds during the summer, count the many types of wild flower that grow in the machair making the islands a Mecca for ornithologists.
At Muckle Quay take the A967 to the cross roads take the A966 to Marwick an exposed area out to the Atlantic Ocean, the clifftops are home to the largest cliff nesting seabird such as Fulmars, Razorbills, Kittiwakes and Guillemots and Puffins colony.
The beach of Marwick Bay attracts a wide range of wading birds and ducks, the reserve also extends to some of the wet meadows, the Marwick Head circular walk takes you along a cliff path gives great views of the island of Hoy.
Follow the route past Loch Swaney a peat stained Loch the most northerly of Orkney's lochs it holds some of the highest quality trout in the county, then past the Eynhallow Sound, a stretch of water which lies between Rousay and the Mainland of Orkney.
Through Tingwall a tiny settlement on the north east coast best known as the Mainland terminal for the ferry serving the three islands is the MV Eynhallow named after the uninhabited island home only to a ruined monastery that lies at the north west end of Eynhallow Sound.
The harbour was built in the 1980s and is used by a number of Orkney's fishing vessels.
Tingwall comprises little more than a farmstead and a couple of houses overlooking the pier, where the ferry to the North Isles of Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre can be caught.
Most visitors will barely glimpse it as they drive the mile to or from the A966.
Tingwall forms just one out post on a broad loop of minor road east of the "A" road that gives access to the coastal fringe of Rendall, complete with a number of tiny scattered settlements.
From Tingwall staying on the A66 to Finstown, the third-largest settlement on the island, it is situated along the Bay of Firth,following a shallow intertidal mudflat. Finstown is situated at the junction of the A965 and the A966, this is the midway point on the A965 road from Stromness to Kirkwall, from Finstown the A966, goes to the parishes of Rendall and Evie.
From Finstown take the A965 to Stromness, the town owes its existence to this natural harbour, and its history reflects changes in maritime life over the centuries,, the town has been shaped by the sea, with historic winding streets, dramatic aspect and busy harbour, it lies in the west on the island of Orkney, huddled around the sheltered bay of Hamnavoe.
Stagecoach is the current operator of public bus services on the Orkney mainland.
Stromness ferry port connects you with Scrabster, with a choice of up to 21 ferry crossings per week.
The duration of the Stromness to Scrabster crossing is about 1 hour 30 minutes depending on the weather, the crossing is operated by Northlink Ferries.
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