Thursday, 16 May 2019

North Ronaldsay

On Tuesday my work as the Cycling UK Cycling Development Officer for Orkney and Shetland took me to North Ronaldsay, the most northerly island of the Orkney archipelago, and on a sunny day one of the most beautiful places in the UK - and luckily for me Tuesday was a very sunny day. I was there to meet Mark Holbrook of the North Ronaldsay Trust and Alex Wright, the volunteer who runs the island's bike hire scheme. Both were keen to show how cycle-friendly the 4-mile by 2-mile island is, how keen the locals are on cycling, what they would like to provide for cyclists with disabilities, and how cycling fits in as an activity for the carbon neutral future of the island. They've previously benefitted indirectly from Big Bike Revival in Scotland through the outreach work of the Cycle Orkney shop in Kirkwall.

It's a fascinating place, with plenty to see. The UK's tallest land-built lighthouse, exhibitions showing how life on the island has developed over the centuries, and the famous seaweed-eating sheep. The 13-mile stone dyke that encircles the island keeps the sheep on the beach where they live on the abundant seaweed.

I stayed overnight in the hostel at the North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory for £34.50 include a very tasty and filling dinner.

The ten-seater Loganair Britten Norman Islander refuels at Kirkwall ready for the hop across to North Ronaldsay

The plane is a vital link between North Ronaldsay and the outside world

Cool views all the way across

The little plane is noisy, but the views more than make up for that

Cycling is a great way to get around this 4-mile x 2-mile island

The tallest onshore lighthouse in the UK at 42m and with 176 steps 

Bike against the lighthouse for scale - it's a whopper!

The ferry m.v. Earl Thorfinn

The ferry brings all the farm machinery and vehicles onto North Ronaldsay

No roll-on roll-off at North Ronaldsay

The North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory

A sparrowhawk found in the bird observatory's ringing nets 
Alex Wright and Jack Straw with Yours Truly on North Ronaldsay

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