Jonathan, the new Papa Westray Ranger, will soon be taking tourists around the remote island of Papa Westray on the Peedie Island tour. The island is affectionately known as Papay by the locals and is one of the most northerly of the Orkney islands. The Papay Ranger has a Facebook Page and the Peedie Island tour is available to book through the Tours page on the Papa Westray website. Reading about the Papay Ranger reminded me of a tour I had around Papa Westray in 2011.
I stayed on Westray for 3 days at the excellent Pierowall Hotel. On the second day of my visit, I had booked a seat on the worlds shortest scheduled flight, from Westray to Papa Westray on a tiny 8-seater plane. The flight lasts a dizzying 2 minutes. Once I had landed, 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 half-day tour on the Papa Westray website 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. They are very close to the sea and may be lost to erosion in the next few decades.
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. 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). On the way, I spent some time in the quaint Bothy Museum, which had some excellent artefacts, interesting information and pictures of the islands history. When I returned, I bid Jimmy farewell and thanked him for an excellent tour.
As I have said in another Blog Post – Local Guides, the best way of seeing an island, when you have a short amount of time, is through hiring a local guide. 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.