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.
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, www.orknet.co.uk/pierwall, 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.