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.
Stromness Pier to Unston Cairn Walk
Stromness lies in the west of the Orkney islands, huddled around the sheltered bay of Hamnavoe. The town owes its existence to this natural harbour, and its history reflects changes in maritime life over the centuries.
Hire cars can be collected both at the airport and in Kirkwall and a shuttle bus runs between the airport and the town. The ferry enters the terminal from the Hoy Sound, nestled beneath the dramatic rise of Brinkies Brae.
Stromness is 16 miles from Kirkwall and 19 miles from Kirkwall Airport.
This 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
Starting at the terminal building on the pier in the village of Stromness, take the A965 passes over the Brig o’ Waithe and Stenness, the Heart of Neolithic Orkney and its prehistoric monuments.
The Standing Stones of Stenness date back to 3100 BC, making it one of the oldest stone circles in Britain, to the junction take the A964 to Orphir about 11 miles.
Travel through the village of Orphir, approximately 9 miles south west of Kirkwall, taking the road marked Gyre on the left just after the school in the village.
Half a mile further along the road you come to Houton Bay, 5 miles south east of Stromness situated on a minor road off the A964.
Then come back onto the main road again the A964, The road climbs steeply from here around the Hill of Midland with views at the top down Hoy Sound and the village of Stromness, make your way down to Waulkmill Bay a tidal bay on the south west coast, there are spectacular views down Scapa Flow with the surrounding being identified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest by Scottish Natural Heritage.
From Waulkmill Bay take the A964 to kirkwall heading past Scapa.
Take the Ayre road to Holm of Grimbister on the A965 about 6 miles a inhabited tidal islet in the Orkney archipelago, located in the Bay of Firth near Finstown it is connected to Mainland Orkney by a causeway, with stunning views out to sea, From Grimbister carry on to the village of of Finstown about a mile along the coast situated in the Bay of Firth, halfway between Stromness and Kirkwall on Mainland Orkney, whose fringe is a shallow intertidal mudflat.
Finstown is situated at the junction of the A965 and the A966, here you will find Binsgarth Woods with a designated path that leads you through one of Orkney’s few natural wooded areas. Visitors will also find a wide range of accommodation and holiday lets beside the village along with options for eating out.
From Finstown at the Junction take the A965 to the village of Sultigeo Orkney’s ancient Neolithic heartland and back to Stromness about 9 miles.
Stromness is the second town after Kirkwall, it lies in a sheltered harbour at the west of the mainland and is further protected by the islands of Graemsay and Hoy.
Although known to Norsemen, it was of little importance until the mid-17th century when it became a trading port for Scotland and the Baltic, and a plaque at Login’s Well (sealed up in 1931) records visits of the Hudson‘s Bay Company’s ships from 1670 to 1891; of Capt, Cook‘s Resolution and Discovery in 1780 and Sir John Franklin’s ships Erebus and Terror ‘on Arctic exploration’ in 1845. It is said that at one time 75 per cent of the Hudson"s Bay employees in Canada were Orcadians, who found favour because of their industrious characteristics and acceptance of lower rates of pay.
The earliest houses date from about 1716, but Stromness did not come into its own as a town until 1758 when, thanks to the efforts of Alexander Graham, the House of Lords decreed that its merchants need no longer pay taxes to Kirkwall authorities for their own trading.
The town, however, was early enough to build in the Norse way with paved thoroughfares between facing houses, and many of these, gable ended towards the sea, have their own private jetties. Stromness has an excellent library at Hellihole containing important Orkney books, and the Orkney Natural History Society, founded in 1837, has a large collection in the Stromness museum. The town also boasts Orkney‘s ﬁrst indoor swimming pool and a picturesque golf course.
Stromness Situated in the west of Mainland, this is the second largest town of Orkney after Kirkwall. It began its existence in a small way, offering shelter for French and Spanish ships sailing to the New World. In 1670 there were only 13 houses, but during the following century Stromness expanded and prospered as the result of increased trade. When the Hudson's Bay Company began its operations in Canada, the town became its British base for the stocking and preparation of ships before their voyage across the Atlantic. Around 1760 Stromness had also became a supply base for whaling ships bound for the Davis Straits and northern Atlantic and Arctic waters. The piers once provided the Stromness inshore fishermen with space to make and mend their nets, bait lines and shelter their boats from the winter storms.
The town is the ferry terminal for the passage across the Pentlands Firth from Scrabster in Caithness. The fishing industry provides a steady income for Stromness, with many sites in the town echoing the past relations with the sea. Much of the charm of Stromness lies in the many stone-built piers, stairs and slipways which support the houses on one side of the mile-long narrow main street. In the early part of the 18th century the infamous pirate John Gow lived in Stromness. He left his native town as a young man and returned several years later in a ship under his command. But the pride of the townspeople was dashed when they discovered that Gow and his crew had mutinied and murdered their officers, which made them pirates, with the truth being out, Gow and his companions made off but were shipwrecked on the Calf of Eday.
Lying about two miles north east of Stromness, on arrival park in front of the house. The key hangs in a box at the back door. The cairn on the edge of the Loch of Stenness contains an excellent example of a communal chambered tomb typical of Stone Age times.
The main chamber is divided by upright slabs into compartments. The pottery found here gave rise to the name Unstan ware which dates from the mid-fourth millennium BC.
Stones of Stenness with its few remaining stones. Ring of Brodgar. - The Bronze Age stone circle stands in an impressive site on a neck of land between the lochs of Stenness and Harray. Of the original 60 stones 27 remain _ upright. Two entrance causeways interrupt the encircling ditch. Once back onto the main road continue only for a short distance. Park beside Tormiston Mill.
Maes Howe - means great mound a Neolithic chambered cairn 26ft high, 115ft in diameter and is encircled by a ditch it is a outstanding piece of achievement and craftsmanship in a age when the only tools were flint and stone. built prior 2700BC the tomb is of a quality to be a tomb of a chieftain or ruling family SKARA BRAE (Mainland) On the west coast of Mainland. Overlooking the Bay of Skaill, clusters a group of Stone Age dwellings. Long protected by sand, the site is well preserved and provides a vivid picture of life in Neolithic times. Period of occupation. - Most of the knowledge of this best preserved of all Northwest European Neolithic villages comes from the excavations of Professor Childe in 1928-9, and smaller but more detailed excavations in 1972-3. Radiocarbon dating shows the two main periods of settlement belong between about 3100 BC and 2500 BC. The inhabitants and their activities. The first inhabitants grew grain and kept cattle, sheep and pigs and fished in the sea.