Stronsay Orkney – Star island
The Isle of Stronsay means Star island in Old Norse and has an unusual 3 legged landscape, which lends itself to some fantastic beaches and a stunning coastline. Callum Orr moved to Stronsay Orkney about 2 years ago. I managed to catch up with Callum and ask him 10 questions about moving to a remote island and how different his new life is on Stronsay.
1. How long have you lived on Stronsay for and what do you do for a living?
I have lived on Stronsay for the past 2 years. My partner, daughter and myself moved up from Fife, after I was successful in applying for a job on one of the many island livestock farms. We instantly enjoyed the feeling of living on an island. Stronsay has a large farming community with good fertile ground.
2. What is your favourite place on Stronsay and why?
I really enjoy the Vat of Kirbuster for walking any time of the year. It’s path runs close to the cliff top and the views are spectacular, especially when the puffins arrive. The many beaches are a close second, with shallow bays and white sands; its a wee spot of paradise for paddling and soaking up the sun on warm days.
3. What are the main things to see and do on Stronsay?
- Vat of Kirbuster, extensive cliff top walks
- Abundant birdlife
- Seals and otters
- Lambhead, iron age brochs and Norse harbour
- Fish Mart Cafe, recently reopened
- Craftship enterprise, craft shop situated in an old Chapel
- Swimming pool
- Beaches of St Catherine’s, Bu Sands, Mill Bay
- Hotel, accommodation /quizzes
4. What are the best and worst things about living on a remote island?
Stronsay has a friendly community, with a lot of good spirited people. Schooling for children is first class on the island. It is a safe place for children to live, play and learn (as it should be). The Northern Lights are a wonderful sight. Stronsay lends itself to exciting opportunities for photography. The worst thing I can think of is the dark, windy and cold months of winter, the ferry is often cancelled when sea swells become too high for the harbour, but this does make for some amazing big sea coastal views.
5. What are the main problems that Stronsay faces, both now and in the future?
Like many islands, continued tourism is always an issue and I’m sure many would like to see more. I like to think we have more solutions rather than problems. The Stronsay Development Trust does excellent work on improving many facilities locally, with plans in place for the future.
6. When is the best time to visit Stronsay?
Anytime, with events taking place throughout the year. A trip to the island from Kirkwall on the ferry, takes a couple of hours. We have a Bed & Breakfast, Hotel and a Hostel for accommodation. From there depending on time of year, various activities can be done. Such things like the Northern lights can be seen regularly on the darker nights. Walking becomes better in the drier months of summer, with adventures to untouched historical sites dotted around the island. Many local events such as dances, parties and quizzes in island establishments happen all year round and everyone is welcome to come along.
7. Have you visited any other islands around Orkney. If so, apart from Stronsay, which is your favourite and why?
We have been to our neighbouring island of Sanday and of course mainland Orkney. We have plans to visit Westray and North Ronaldsay this year, eventually taking in all the islands of Orkney in the future.
8. Do you think there has been an increase in tourism after the recent programmes about Scottish islands?
I have noticed increasing interest of people wanting to tour the islands. Mainland Orkney seems to get most tourists.
9. How do you see life for yourself in the next 5-10 years and do you see any major changes on Stronsay?
I definitely see a future for myself and my family on Stronsay in the long term. We feel settled and happy here.
10. Where can I find out more information about Stronsay?
Stronsay has a Facebook group. I am the administrator. It is regularly updated by residents with local news, events and photographs. It’s a wee look into island life and all the hidden corners not seen by any web page or tourist book.