“On Sunday (yesterday), I took a special excursion to North Ronaldsay, with the intention of taking a tour of Britain’s tallest land-based Lighthouse. It was just under 3 hours there and 3 and a half hours back (after a short stop on Westray). Once on North Ronaldsay (or North Ron as it is affectionately known) I walked for about a couple of miles and was then picked up by the Lighthouse Keeper (and Tour Guide) in his Renault Espace. He made 3 trips to pick all the passengers up and dropped us all at the new Lighthouse. (The old lighthouse is currently being renovated – it finished 3rd in the BBC Restoration programme). I was grateful for the lift as it was about an hour to an hour and a half’s walk to the lighthouse and we only had 4 hours ashore!
Once at the Lighthouse, the Keeper demonstrated the Foghorn, not once but twice! Probably the loudest sound I’ve ever heard. I could feel the ground vibrate! Our guide took us up the winding staircase to the top of the lighthouse and we were able to go outside to marvel at the views, including the famous sheep, dotted around the shore. We then carefully climbed up to see the lens, which is the original one from the 19th century. Our Guide told us all about the history of the Lighthouse and of the role the Stevenson family had in Lighthouse building throughout Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries ….
How do I get to North Ronaldsay? Loganair (part of the Flybe group) fly from Aberdeen, Barra, Belfast, Benbecula, Birmingham, Campbeltown, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Guernsey, Inverness, Islay, Isle of Man, Jersey, Leeds/Bradford, London (Gatwick), Manchester, Manston (Kent), Newquay, Norwich, Southampton, Stornoway and Sumburgh (Shetland). Most flights are via Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen or Inverness. Or, you could travel by Northlink ferry from the ferry terminals in Aberdeen (to Kirkwall) and Scrabster (to Stromness). Alternatively, you could travel by Pentland Ferries on the Gill´s Bay to St Margert´s Hope route. Finally, John O´ Groats passenger only ferries run from John O´Groats to South Ronaldsay. From May to September, there is a direct bus route from Inverness to John O´Groats that meets with the ferry – this is known as ´The Orkney Bus´. There is a weekly Orkney Ferries sailing from Kirkwall to North Ronaldsay, on a Tuesday and a further sailing on a Friday, between May and September. Loganair operate three flights a day to North Ronaldsay, except for two on a Sunday.
How do I get around North Ronaldsay? There is a taxi available from Garso No 1, as well as minibus hire, self-drive cars and tours. Cycles can be hired from W.T Muir.
What’s worth visiting on North Ronaldsay? The North Ronaldsay Lighthouse is the tallest land-based Lighthouse in Scotland. It was automated in 1998. The Broch of Burrian is the centre of a large Iron Age settlement, believed to have been occupied into the Pictish period. North Ronaldsay is famed as being a crossroads for migratory birds, on their way north towards Scandinavia. See ‘Dart to North Ronaldsay’ on the Blog page.
Where can I stay on North Ronaldsay? The Bird Observatory offers Guest House and Hostel accommodation. There is also self-catering at Brigg, Quoybanks, The Doll’s House and Dennishill. Bed and Breakfast is available at Garso Guest House.
Any other information on North Ronaldsay? The sheep on North Ronaldsay live on a narrow strip of beach and foreshore and survive through eating seaweed. They are only brought inside the 13 mile stone dyke that surrounds them at Lambing time. For more information on North Ronaldsay, please read my article Orkney Adventure.