Walk: Stacks of Stronsay seabirds

Orkney | Stronsay | Half day walk | ★★★

[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 southeastern 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 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 outing, at least until the tedious tarmac return.

[Fulmar near the Vat of Kirbuster]

📌 Walk: Stacks of Stronsay seabirds ★★★
Start / finish at Vat of Kirbuster layby on minor road at Everbay, 3 mi south of Whitehall Village, Stronsay, G.R.: HY 681241 ///icebergs.bike.haven

▶ 13 km / 8 mi | ▲ 170 m | ⌚ Half a day | Moderate
Features: Vat of Kirbuster gloup; Two Castles stacks; Stronsay coastline; The Brough stack; Lamb Head broch
Terrain: Good path to Vat of Kirbuster becomes faint soon after. Pathless sections later on, mostly on short turf. Long (3 mi) tarmac return (or return by outward route).

Route & map

Car park - Vat of Kirbuster - Two Castles - Burgh Head & The Brough - Lamb Head & broch - Bay of Houseby to road at G.R.: HY 676221 - South Schoolhouse - Everbay - start

Route credit: Walkhighlands
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On our visit

Wildlife: 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: 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]


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