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Orkney Islands Walk
Heritage Trail from Westness

County/Area - Orkney Islands - Isle of Rousay

Author - Lou Johnson

Length - 3.0 miles / 4.9 km    Ascent - 189 feet / 57 metres

Time - 1 hours 40 minutes    Grade - easy

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Walk Route Description

Photo from the walk - Heritage Trail from Westness
Click image to see photo description.

This Orkney Islands walk explores the rich heritage along the west coast of the island of Rousay. This hilly island lies to the north of mainland and offers many sites of archaeological and historical interest that cover a period of 5,000 years from the Neolithic period to the Picts and Vikings and more recently the highland clearances.

The start is a small parking space above Westness Farm (grid ref. HY384290) beside the B9064. After parking, turn left after the cottage on the left to follow a clear track down to Westness Farm. Continue past the farm buildings down towards the coast. Bear right off the track and join a feint path along the coast (with the sea on your left).

The first point of interest is the Knowe of Swandro, where there is ongoing archaeological exploration being undertaken in summer. Continue along the coastal path to pass the ruins of Skaill Farm. Pass through a gate and follow the as it briefly turns inland to the ruins of St. Mary's Church. Go through another gate to return to the coast to reach The Work and the remains of Brough Farm.

You soon reach Midhowe Cairn, the largest of its type in Orkney. Do allow time to explore inside the protective stone construction. Continue along the coast path to Midhowe Broch and impressive Iron Age fortress overlooking Eynhallow Sound. Again, spend some time exploring its interior. From here return along the path and pass Midhowe Cairn on your left. Turn left and follow the rising track inland. After 200 metres turn right on a clear track that runs parallel to the coast on your right. Continue to Westness Farm, where you turn left to return to the road and the small parking area.

Isle of Rousay - can be reached by car and passenger ferry from Tingwall on mainland. The service is operated by Orkney Ferries which links the islands of Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre with the mainland of Orkney.

Other walks nearby

Walk 3651 Noup Head from Backarass Farm, Westrayeasy4.5 miles
Walk 3652 The Gloup, Deerness Brough & Mull Headeasy4.0 miles
Walk 3648 Old Man of Hoy & Glens of Broadiface moderate10.0 miles
Walk 3649 Old Man of Hoy from Rackwickeasy/mod5.4 miles
Walk 3650 Rackwick, Old Man of Hoy & Cuilagsmod/hard9.6 miles

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Walking in Orkney Islands

The Orkney Islands are an archipelago with about 70 islands, of which 20 are inhabited. Kirkwall, the largest centre is situated on the largest island, Mainland. The islands have been inhabited for at least 8,500 years with many of the oldest and best-preserved Neolithic sites in Europe. Most of the islands are based on underlying Old Red Sandstone and are home to an abundant marine and bird life. The islands are mainly low-lying except for some sharply rising sandstone hills on Mainland, Rousay and Hoy where Ward Hill is the highest point in the islands. Dramatic, rugged cliffs can be found on some western shores and provide an added scenic attraction.

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