Walking the Brough of Birsay, Orkney

Here is an astonishing walk from mainland Orkney to that tidal island, the Brough of Birsay, and the Pictish, Viking and Christian monastic ruins there. Certainly there are longer and more exhausting walks, and perhaps there are more beautiful places to end up, but I’ve never had such a total experience, a combination of effort and beauty, than what we found walking to and from the Brough of Birsay, from literally stepping over a briefly exposed North Sea, to hiking up to a lighthouse and cliffside and looking west to where the nearest land was Canada, thousands of ocean miles away.


24 Comments Add yours

  1. Opher says:

    A great experience. Thanks.

  2. Thanks for this share. Wonderful pictorial quest.

  3. dpomeroy says:

    Stunning! Thank you for sharing.

  4. maristravels says:

    Really enjoyed that thanks to your good reporting and photographs. I also loved the layout of the images.

  5. A beautiful walk, thank you so much for sharing :o)

  6. Cascadian Girl says:

    Lovely and haunting. The ruins here spark the imagination!

  7. Beautiful and frightening history in these photos. Great photos as well.

  8. Tim Miller says:

    I think “beautiful and frightening” sum it up perfectly. I sat in the remains of one of the Viking houses, & walked to where the door was, that would’ve opened out on the brutal North Sea, & wondered what kind of precarious life it was, living there, waking up in the morning & facing that. If I can ever post the videos from that walk, all you’ll hear is the endless howl of strong wind

  9. Wow! Those sound like haunting videos. That howl is unchanged across the centuries.

  10. Tim Miller says:

    That it is. The only thing I could compare it to was the ceaseless wind I found walking Tintagel a few years earlier, https://wordandsilence.com/2016/06/08/walking-tintagel/ –again on the coast, at the end of land, slightly disoriented & feeling you might get blown over the side

  11. I will comment on your Tintagel post soon. That has a different feel to it than Birsay, somehow. Can I put my finger on the difference?

  12. I’m a walker and hillie and mountain lady and all these things so yeah, loved this. Thank you x

  13. dublindry says:

    Beautiful scenery!

  14. Did you have to time your walk with the tides to get to the island?

  15. Tim Miller says:

    We did, and it wasn’t hard, since all over the mainland there were tide times. I think that day there was a window between 11am and 2pm.

  16. kellyradell says:

    Beautiful photos!

  17. Jade says:

    Stunning photos! Orkney is beautiful.

  18. Jenny Miller says:

    I’m not sure there is a lovelier walk, or a more beautiful place to end up, actually!
    xoxo – yr walking partner

  19. Beautiful islands – I hope to make it up there one day.

  20. This looks a lot like a “bridge” my brother just crossed over a river in Honduras, on a missionary trip. Great job on the story … and the photos!

  21. gretchenwing says:

    Breathtaking. Also very evocative of some of my favorite places, including southern New Zealand, and my own backyard in the San Juan Islands. Thank you for this, and for following Wing’s World!

  22. Lovely, wild and beautiful.

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