Walk: Stacks of Stronsay seabirds

[The Brough sea stack, Burgh Head]

Walks shouldn't ever be thought of as an exercise in box-ticking, but carry a list with you of all Orkney's most familiar seabirds while exploring this south-eastern portion of Stronsay and you're quite likely to return with a full house of sightings. For several weeks centred on early summer, the cliffs for miles around Burgh Head fill up with thousands of seabirds. The area isn't particularly notable for sheer numbers; what's special is the variety of birds present over a short distance: from puffins and guillemots to shags, gulls and the watchful eyes of ever-passing fulmars just to start. The coastal scenery is superb year-round, starting with the collapsed Vat of Kirbuster sea cave (locally referred to as gloup), continuing past a succession of sea stacks and deep geos to the nearly-island at Lamb Head. An exquisite five miles or so (better not mention the tedious tarmac return... oh, sorry).

[Fulmar near the Vat of Kirbuster]

Name: Walk: Stacks of Stronsay seabirds ★★☆☆
Length: 13 km / 8 miles
Ascent: 170 metres
Points of interest: Vat of Kirbuster gloup; Two Castles stacks; Stronsay coastline; The Brough stack; Lamb Head broch
Start / finish: Car park for Vat of Kirbuster near Everbay, G.R.: HY 681241 / icebergs bike haven

Route: Car park - Vat of Kirbuster - Two Castles - Burgh Head & The Brough - Lamb Head & broch - Bay of Houseby to road at HY 676221 - South Schoolhouse - Everbay - start
Terrain: Good path to Vat of Kirbuster becomes faint soon after. Pathless sections later on, mostly on short turf. Long (3 mile) tarmac return (or return by outward route).
Wildlife today: Seabirds including puffins, fulmars, shags, guillemots, black guillemots, skuas. Seals, rabbits, butterflies; crabs at lamb bay. Remains of a whale carcass at Bay of Houseby.
Weather today: Sunny at start but gradually clouding over, with prolonged rain shower from Bay of Houseby onwards. Temperatures in low teens, light winds.

[Vat of Kirbuster]


Route credit: Walkhighlands

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