This is a circular loop of about 6.5 miles. The terrain is varied, encompassing some road, some peat moorland and some very faint footpaths. The walk highlights many of the wonderous features of Eday. If you are only on the island for a short time and want to see the best of Eday, this is the walk you want to do! You can extend the walk by incorporating the St. Stephens Gate walk and / or the Mill Bay Walk.
The walk starts near the shop on Eday, which is the advised place to park up your vehicle. You will see a road heading to the west side of Eday, along with a Heritage Walk signpost. This will take you past Mill Loch and a bird hide and is one of the best places in Britain to enjoy the sights and sounds of red-throated divers. The 10-hectare loch supports one of the densest breeding populations in the UK.
Continue down the road, westwards until you come to a kissing gate on your right hand side, with a sign post for the Stone of Setter.
Pass through the kissing gate and head towards the Stone of Setter – at 4.5m high, this is the tallest single standing stone in Orkney. Carry on in a North Westerly direction and follow a faint track in the grass towards Vinquoy Hill and a number of other archaeological sites. Weave your way through these sites, reading about some of them on the information boards and head along a nebulous path towards Vinquoy chambered cairn.
Vinquoy chambered cairn is thought to be a burial site dating back since 2000BC. The site has been excavated and was officially opened by Magnus Magnusson in 1987. You can enter the cairn and have a look around the chambers, however, a word of warning – it is a hands and knees jobby and it can get waterlogged during the wetter months of the year.
From the Cairn and it’s magnificent views, head NNE past the old schoolhouse. This is the only building forthwith. Carrick House can be seen in the distance on the seashore. Carrick house is where the Laird of the island used to reside, and the descendants of the Laird still reside here when they visit the island.
Continue NNE past the old schoolhouse and towards the Red Head, a large protruding pokie outie piece of land – a peninsular would be the correct word to use. You may need to skirt round various fences as there is a lack of a distinct footpath to get up to the Red Head. You will work your way up to the top of the peninsular, our walk will take you through heather moorland and old peat cutting sites. At the tip of the Red Head peninsular, you will find a trig point and a view indicator pointing out other islands and land marks.
From the trig point at the top of the Red Head, follow the fenced off cliff to your left and head SSE. Heading down and off of the Red Head, you’ll soon reach the shoreline, where you’ll encounter Calfsound Lighthouse.
As you pass the lighthouse, you will notice some rusting railway tracks – these were used to carry carts of peat by train, to be loaded up by boat, then exported from Eday. Eday Peat Company exported peat from this area to be used in several Whiskey distilleries across Scotland.
Carry on keeping the coast to your left and you will find your self at Carrick house. Head to the right of the private property and through a kissing gate, and you will find yourself on the road which leads southwards through the middle of the island and back to the shop.
A local's view
My husband James and I moved to a remote island of Eday in Orkney Islands back in December 2016 and we've been living at the North end of this beautiful island ever since. This blog is all about my view of life on this remote island and some information that we at Happy Homestead get frequently asked for. If there is anything I didn't cover yet, be sure to contact me.
Older articles from Happy Homestead
You may like