North Ronaldsay | Colin Nutt

About

The most northerly of the Orkney islands is best known for its seaweed-eating sheep, the stone dyke that encircles the island to keep the flock on the shore, its two lighthouses, and its bird observatory (the island is on the flight path for thousands of migrating birds). North Ronaldsay is an island of contrasts, with rocky cliffs facing the Atlantic and sandy beaches by the North Sea. The island has retained its distinct culture and traditions, and a visit to North Ronaldsay is often described as stepping back in time.

Famous For

  • North Ronaldsay is home to the seaweed-eating North Ronaldsay Sheep that live on the island shores. An ancient and rare breed of sheep – small, hardy and short-tailed – they are still managed under a communal shepherding system under the direction of the island’s Sheep Court.

  • The sheep dyke, now A-listed, was erected in the 1800s to keep the sheep on the shore. It is regarded by Historic Scotland as "probably the largest drystone construction conceived of as a single entity in the world". It is over 12 miles in length, and stands some two metres high.

  • North Ronaldsay is well known as one of the best birdwatching sites in the country. The number and variety of birds that arrive in North Ronaldsay on migration in spring and autumn can be spectacular.

Ask an Islander

  • Check out North Ronaldsay's mutton. A lifelong diet of seaweed, combined with wild seashore living, gives the North Ronaldsay breed a dark and deliciously flavoured meat. North Ronaldsay mutton is the first Slow Food Presidium in Scotland.

  • The North Ronaldsay Lighthouse (still referred to as the new lighthouse on the island) was built in 1854 and is the UK’s tallest land-based lighthouse, measuring 139 ft in height. Visitors can climb the 176 steps to the top and enjoy breathtaking views.

  • The island's night skies can be spectacular and the community is currently in the process of gaining International Dark Sky status. A trip at night to stand under the revolving lighthouse beams is a beautiful and unforgettable experience.

Accommodation

More Information

You can find some additional information about North Ronaldsay at the links below

North Ronaldsay Trust

Isle of North Ronaldsay

Explore Orkney - North Ronaldsay

COVID-19

Please check the latest rules on travelling to and around the Scottish islands on the Scottish Government website, including guidance on testing before you travel. Please note that advice may vary depending on the specific island you are visiting.

Getting here

Covid-19

Please check the latest rules on travelling to and around the Scottish islands on the Scottish Government website, including guidance on testing before you travel. Please note that advice may vary depending on the specific island you are visiting.


Orkney Ferries sails from Kirkwall on Mainland Orkney to North Ronaldsay up to three times a week in the summer, and once a week in the winter.

Loganair operates daily flights to North Ronaldsay from Kirkwall on Mainland Orkney. Some flights go via other islands.

Find out more about getting to Mainland Orkney.

Get Your Passport

You can find lots more information about things to see and do on the island, see some amazing island photography and collect your island stamp by downloading our app.

Download the app

App in phone

Download the Scottish Island Passport app to collect your island stamps! The app also provides lots more information on each island including recommendations from locals about things to see and do, info on how to get around, more stunning photos and useful offline maps.

  • Unlock Stamps - Collect them all! Stamp your passport when you visit each island - with an individual stamp designed to represent a unique aspect of island heritage.
  • Experiences - Discover the best experiences each island has to offer – from local boat trips to exciting traditional festivals, there is something for everyone.
  • Maps - Navigate the islands with useful offline maps, handy for areas where internet connectivity is weak.
  • Travel Jounals - Create an in-location travel journal with pictures from your island adventures, to look back on your trip.
  • Favourites - keep track of your most loved islands with the favourites feature. Available to access from your account on both the app and web.