Stronsay is one of the north isles of Orkney. It is about 7 miles long but with all its “arms and legs” it has many miles of coastline. On Stronsay, it’s said there is a beach for every wind direction.
St Catherine’s Bay, the Bay of Holland, the Bay of Huip and Mill Bay have the largest expanses of sand, but there are many other small beaches to explore.
A short walk westwards through the village brings you to the Ayre of Myers, a popular picnic spot and the first of many sandy beaches. You can quite often spot seals basking on the rocks: the BBC filmed them on the nature programme Autumnwatch.
Stronsay has a population of around 300 and the main centre is Whitehall Village. Here are large houses dating from the days when the vast herring fleet came in, from the 17th century until the 1930s. Hundreds of boats would be tied up and the herring girls would travel up the east coast to Stronsay following the herring.
Whitehall Village today has a hotel, a shop, a B&B and newly refurbished cafe and hostel. Lots of boats visit in the summer as the harbour is the best in the Outer Isles.
Harking back to its earlier history, Stronsay has a number of archaeological sites, a large chambered cairn at Kelsburgh near the Bu and two smaller ones at Lamb Head. Two flint arrow heads found in April 2007 are believed to date back to between 10,000 and 12,000 years ago. If confirmed, they could be the earliest artefacts ever found in Scotland.
There are also large caves and interesting rock formations along the stunning coastline, complimented by low cliffs on the south east side of the island. Bu Sands has large spaced-out dunes built from the wind-blown sand from a beach over a mile long. Some of Orkney’s rarest shells, the bubble shell (canoe) and Cyprina (coo), can be found here.
Stronsay is one of the most fertile islands on Orkney and boasts a range of habitats, including moorland on the large headland of Rothiesholm and wetlands at Muckle Water. This natural diversity has led to a large and exciting variety of plants and wildlife. Stronsay is excellent for birdwatching, attracting migrants in spring and autumn and many unusual species all year round. Lamb Ness and Lamb Head are home to many seabirds. Stronsay’s bird reserve is one of the best sites in Europe for spotting rare migrants.
The neighbouring tiny island of Papa Stronsay is the home of Transalpine Redemptorists monks.
The trip from Stronsay Pier to Craftship Enterprise
If you arrive by ferry, the harbour is in Whitehall Village. Follow the road through the village and continue all the way up the hill until you come to a T junction. Turn right here and Craftship Enterprise is about 100yards on the left. This is about a 15-20 minute walk.
Don’s taxis and car hire Contact number 01857 616335
The Stronsay Hotel: Contact 01857 616213
Storehouse B&B: Contact 01857 616263 – or visit the Storehouse B&B website for more information
The Fishmart cafe and hostel: Contact 01857 616401
All situated in the village, easy walking distance from the harbour.
Connections from Mainland Orkney
Stronsay can be reached by plane and ferry. For up to date timetables, please contact
Orkney Ferries: 01856 872044 or visit the Orkney Ferries website for more information
Loganair: 01856 872494 or visit the Loganair website for more information