The Scapa Flow Landscape Partnership Scheme


Burwick cliffs, South Ronaldsay

At Burwick, there is easy parking adjacent to the pier, where the John O’ Groats passenger ferry service docks in the summer. On the bay itself stands St Mary's Church, which dates from 1790.

The coastal path to Sandwick (approximately 6km north) begins alongside a stack of blocks south and west of the pier. It veers to the west along the clifftop, past Castle Skerry, site of an ancient fort settlement, onward via Green Head and Barth Head to Barswick.

Killer whales and dolphins have been seen from here, and the heathland along route is home to a variety of wildflowers and plants. From April to September, a carpet of colour greets the walker - yellow coltsfoot, celandine, marsh marigolds and primroses appear first, followed by blue s pring squill; then the subtle pinks and purples of thrift, campion, orchids and heather follow, along with Grass of Parnassus and eyebright.  The rare great yellow bumblebee has been recorded in South Ronaldsay, and birds you may see in the breeding season (April – July and in some cases beyond) include the Arctic tern, the great skua or bonxie, the peregrine falcon, and around the cliffs -  puffin, razorbill, fulmar and guillemot.

Common and grey seals populate South Ronaldsay’s rocky shores – common seals pup in June and July and grey seals in October and November. They feed on fish, shellfish, squid and octopus, and Orkney’s grey seals form a significant part of the world population. 

Copyright 2011 Scapa Flow Landscape Partnership Scheme