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Scenic Walks and Bird Watching 
Around Birsay 


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From the carpark for the Brough there is interesting walk eastward along the north coast of Birsay which takes us past the Fishermen's Hut and boat noasts (where fishermen kept their boats over winter), Skippi (or Skiba) Geo, the Whalebone (erected c. 1876 from the remains of a beached whale), all the way to Longagleeb, an impressive geo or cleft in the cliffs, and even beyond up much higher to Costa Head.

The Whalebone
The Whalebone

Northside Cliffs
Northside Cliffs



The Brough of Birsay is a tidal island, accessible by foot at low tide, famous for extensive remains of Norse settlement which had a major church, probably a monastery, and a complex of buildings that are thought to have been the headquarters of Earl Thorfinn (c.1005-1065), who ruled much of northern Scotland and the Western Isles.  Beyond the settlement the island rises to sea cliffs atop of which is the Brough Lighthouse built in 1925 and converted to solar power in 2001.  It is a fine walk to the Light and along the cliffs.

Birsay Lighthouse in 2000
Birsay Lighthouse 

View from the Brough Cliffs
View from the Brough Cliffs




Start from the carpark for Marwick Bay, walk along the Choin (tidal pool) then up along the cliffs as they rise to 86m (280 ft) above the sea.  Near the top is a stone tower memorial to Lord Kitchener, Minister for War during World War I.  He was on a mission to Russia in June 1916 when his ship, the HMS Hampshire, was sunk with the loss of more than 650 men.  Because these high cliffs are home to numerous bird colonies in spring, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds owns considerable land here.

Looking down on the Cliffs at Marwick Head
Marwick Head
Kitchener Memorial on Marwick Head
Kitchener Memorial


4) The LOONS and the LOCH of ISBISTER.

The Loons is another RSPB Reserve located in the wetlands of the Loch of Isbister.  A bird hide is conveniently placed along the Marwick to Twatt road. 

Loch of Isbister
Loch of Isbister



The Loch of Boardhouse, some two miles long, is one of the main reservoirs for the public water supply.  Fishing is permitted, and boats are available for hire.  [Hire Details] Swannay and Hundland are two other lochs of considerable size.

Loch of Boardhouse
Loch of Boardhouse

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Birsay Heritage Trust 2019