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Westray is the second largest of the North Isles, with a varied landscape of farmland, hilly moorland, sandy beaches and dramatic cliffs. 

It is also the most prosperous of the North Isles, producing beef, fish and seafood, and supports a population of 700. The main settlement is Pierowall, in the north of the island, but, though it has one of the best harbours in Orkney, the main ferry terminal is at Rapness, on the south coast.



Travel Directions to Westray

Getting there

There are flights to Westray from Kirkwall. The airport is in the far northeastern corner of the island. There's a car ferry service from Kirkwall to Rapness, on the south coast of the island.

Flights to Westray with Loganair depart Kirkwall twice daily Mon-Fri and once on Sat. There's a car ferry service from Kirkwall to Rapness, on the south coast of the island (1 hr 30 mins). It sails twice daily in summer (mid-May to mid-Sep) and once daily in winter. There's also a passenger ferry from Pierowall to Papa Westray (see below). There are guided minibus tours of Westray with Alex Costie of Island Explorer, Tel. 677355, which connect with the ferry at Rapness and cost £20 for a full day.

J & M Marcus at Pierowall also run bus tours and offer car hire. For cycle hire contact Mrs Groat at Sand o' Gill (see above); or Mrs Bain at Twiness, Tel. 677319. For boat trips to Papa Westray contact Tom Rendall, T677216. Discover Orkney, Tel./Fax. 01856-872865, run day tours on a Sun to Westray from Kirkwall, leaving at 0940 and returning at 2015, and costing around £30 per person including ferry. They also run a day tour on a Mon to Papa Westray.

Getting around

There are guided minibus tours of Westray which connect with the ferry at Rapness.

Local Sights & Activities for Westray


Pierowall is a relatively large village for the North Isles and there are several shops, a post office, a hotel and the Westray Heritage Centre, with displays on local and natural history, and a tearoom. Info - Early May to late Sep Tue-Sat 0930-1230 and 1400-1700. £2. Also in the village is the ruined 17th-century St Mary's church. About a mile west of the village is Westray's most notable ruin, the impressive Notland Castle, a fine example of a 16th-century fortified Z-plan tower-house. Info - The castle is managed by Historic Scotland. 11 Jun-30 Sep daily 0930-1830. Adult £1.50, concession £1.10, children £0.50. Phone Skara Brae Tel. 01856-841815.

Walks on the island

There are some great coastal walks on the island, particularly to the spectacular sea cliffs at Noup Head, at the far northwestern tip, which are an RSPB Reserve and second only to St Kilda in terms of breeding seabirds, with huge colonies of guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes and fulmars, as well as puffins.

The cliffs on the west coast of Westray are five miles long and there's an excellent walk down the coast from Noup Head, past Gentleman's Cave, used as a hiding place by four Jacobite lairds in 1746. Near the southern end of the walk is Fitty Hill (554 ft), the highest point on the island, which you can climb for great views, and the walk ends at Inga Ness, where you can also see puffins. The best place to see puffins is at Castle o' Burrian, a sea stack on Stanger Head, on the southeastern coast near the Rapness ferry terminal.

Westray Hotels & Accommodation

The best place to stay is Cleaton House Hotel, Tel. 677508, Cleaton House Hotel A converted Victorian manse about 2 miles southeast of Pierowall. It serves excellent meals in the restaurant (1900-2100) and in the bar (1200-1400, 1800-2100). In the village is the E Pierowall Hotel, Tel. 677208,, which is less stylish, but comfortable and friendly. It also serves good-value bar meals. There are also several B&Bs, including E-F Sand o' Gill, Tel. 677374, where you can also camp or hire their self-catering caravan.