Papa Westray is one of Orkney’s smaller isles, only about six square miles in extent, and much less hectic than its bigger neighbours in Orkney.
Lying roughly on the same latitude as Stavanger in Norway the island is one of the most remote of the Orkney group. Just over four miles long by a mile wide the scenery ranges from impressive cliffs, through wide sandy bays to rolling agricultural land. The cliffs at the northern tip, heavily eroded by the fearsome seas, are steep and densely populated by seabirds.
Papay, as the locals know it, is travel writer Bill Bryson’s favourite spot in all of Britain.
With a population of around 70 people, including a significant number of new arrivals from the south in the past decade, Papay is renowned internationally for its bird life, its archaeology, its wonderful beaches and most recently its attempts to sustain a genuine and distinctive small, integrated community.
On Papay the obvious ‘must see’ targets are the Knap of Howar, still regarded as the oldest standing house in Northwest Europe, the first occupants perhaps being in residence 6000 years ago. The North Hill bird sanctuary with its terns, puffins and great skuas and its rare maritime heath and the church of St Boniface, a pre-Reformation Kirk on the site of an early Christian mission station.
Papa Westray also have their own web site at www.papawestray.co.uk