“I flew to Papa Westray on the tiny 8-seater islander plane, from neighbouring Westray. I received a certificate and a small bottle of Highland Park whisky to commemorate my journey. A present for each minute!
I had booked a tour with Papa Westray Island Tours and was met by a local guide called Jimmy. Jimmy explained that today was a special day, as there was an auction in the afternoon at Holland Farm. He said that normally we would not be allowed in the Farm House, but as today was auction day, we were free to roam around and look at the auction items available in each room.
Before going to Holland Farm, Jimmy took me to St Boniface Kirk, an important ecclesiastic site dating back to the 8th century. From here we went to the Knap of Howar, which are the earliest North European dwellings, dating back to around 3800 years BC.
We toured the length and breadth of this fascinating island and then we alighted at Holland Farm and had a good look around at the items on display. I spent some time in the quaint Bothy Museum, which had some excellent artefacts, interesting information and pictures of the islands history.
Jimmy said I could stay and watch the auction, but I decided to walk down to the Hostel to relax and make myself a cup of coffee (and devour a couple of homemade biscuits – paid for by an honesty box). I bid Jimmy farewell and thanked him for an excellent tour.
Papa Westray is an enthralling island. I really felt like I was on the edge of the world. There is lots to see and do and the community are incredibly friendly. Well worth a visit”.
How do I get to Papa Westray? 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´. The scheduled inter-island ferry service calls at Papa Westray on a Friday and there are occasional Sunday sailings in the summer months. However, there are daily sailing to Westray, where you can connect with the ferry to Papa Westray. Also, there are daily flights from Kirkwall, through Loganair and flights from nearby Westray.
How do I get around Papa Westray? Car hire is available from Papay Car Hire. Papay Community Co-operative offers the popular ‘Peedie Package‘ tour of Papa Westray every Wednesday and Saturday during the summer season. Otherwise, the island is excellent for cycling and walking.
What’s worth visiting on Papa Westray? The Knap of Howar is the earliest standing house in Northern Europe and was occupied over 5000 years ago. St Boniface Kirk is one of the oldest Christian sites in Scotland. Some of the stonework dates from the 12th century. Holland Farm was previously the home of the Traill family and includes John o’Hollands Museum with a range of artefacts that includes the Parish Handcuffs.
Where can I stay on Papa Westray? Bed and Breakfast is available at School Place. Self-catering is available at Holm View and Peatwell. There is also Hostel accommodation at Papa Westray Hostel.
Any other information on Papa Westray? The flight between Westray and Papa Westray is the shortest scheduled flight in the world, clocking in at a mammoth 2 minutes! For more information on Papa Westray, read my Blog Post ‘Local Guides‘.