An explorer's guide to the islands of Britain

Rousay, Orkney, United Kingdom
Distance: 25 km
Difficulty: Easy
Method: Walking
Wow Factor: 10 out of 10

Key Facts

  • Location: Orkney Islands
  • Size: 4,860 hectares
  • Terrain: Tarmac single-track road; some steeper hills
  • Access: Ferry from Tingwall, mainland Orkney
  • Height gain: 530 metres
  • Map: OS Explorer 464
  • Starting point: Rousay ferry pier
  • Accommodation/food:

    Taversoe Inn for B&B and pub. Also self-catering, camping and hostel

  • Island Summary:

    Known as the Egypt of the North a walk along the Westness Heritage Trail and its mile of mind blowing history will leave you in no doubt as to how this island earnt its name. As the second most hilly island after Hoy though it has a lot more to offer the walker than history. The road climbs almost to the top of the steeper hills of the island offering unparalleled views of the other islands in the archipelago. Also, the island secures itself as a rich wildlife experience by virtue of its diversity of habitat from moorland and seashore to luxuriant maritime heath.

  • Look out for:
    • The built remains of the Stone Age, Iron Age, Vikings and early crofters
    • Views across to Faraclett Head from the flanks of Kierfea Hill
    • Otters in the Bay of Saviskail
    • Every other lovely local driver stopping to ask you if you want a lift!
  • Route description:

    This is an on-road route following the islands main circular, single-track road. With two prolonged hills known as ‘The Leeon’ and the ‘Sourin Brae’ that climb either side of Kierfea Hill in the north of the island this route will exercise even the fitter walker, particularly if they are time constrained by ferries or want to spend significant time absorbing the island’s rich history. The south coast is very agricultural and gentle whilst the north coast is steeper with rugged cliffs and rougher seas. The east coast is low-lying and more highly populated whilst the west coast is a long, remote stretch that passes through high moorland landscape.

  • Getting there:

    Orkney Ferries sail regularly from the island to Tingwall on the Orkney Mainland to Rousay.

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