Explore lovely Westray, one of the Scottish Orkney Islands and home to just 600 people in total. Depart from Gill’s Pier on your guided walk to visit the highlights of Westray.
Begin by walking towards the cute village of Pierowall. Continuing along to Grobust, voted the best beach on the island, here there are tangle dykes which were used to dry kelp harvested over the winter before it was shipped away.
We bring history to life and then head to Noltland Castle which mainly dates to the later 16th century, although it was never fully completed. In 1560 Adam Bothwell, Bishop of Orkney, granted the lands of Noltland to his brother-in-law Gilbert Balfour, who built the castle. Balfour was Master of the Royal Household to Mary, Queen of Scots, and was involved in the plot to kill her husband, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. After Mary’s deposition and exile, he continued to support the queen. Noltland was seized by Robert Stewart, 1st Earl of Orkney, an opponent of Mary’s supporters, but he was forced to hand it back to Balfour in the early 1570s. Balfour died in Sweden in 1567, and in 1598 the castle was again seized by the Earl of Orkney (now Patrick Stewart, son of Robert). By 1606 the castle had been restored to the Balfours once more, when it was sold to Sir John Arnot, Lord Provost of Edinburgh, who later became Sheriff of Orkney.
Finish your tour with a visit to Lady Kirk, erected in 1674 with foundations dating back to the 12th or 13th century.
From here, Pierowall is a short distance away. If you like, visit the Westray Heritage Center, Hume Sweet Hume & the Art Gallery or return to the pier on foot.
Starting time: 9.15 AM
Duration: around 3 hours
Activity level: 3/5