Papa Westray, known locally as Papay, is one of Orkney’s smallest islands at four miles long by one mile wide. Papay is a fascinating place to visit, packed with wildlife, history and strong community spirit – it also has the world’s shortest scheduled flight, a short two-minute hop from neighbouring Westray.
Ask an Islander
We asked the Papay Island Ranger to tell us why his island is special. Here’s what he said:
“May is my favourite time of year on Papay. It’s a time of coming back to life and new arrivals on the island. The Pickies (Arctic Terns) are back from Antarctica, migrant birds are passing through on their long journey north, and the island is waking from the long winter at 59 degrees north. Oh, I almost forgot, the Puffins are back too!”
Papay is a fantastic place for walking. “My favourite place to walk is the coastal walk around North Hill, with Fowl Craig as the highlight. In the summer it’s home to our splendid seabird colonies, and in the winter it’s dramatic and wild. The perfect place to get away from it all at any time of the year.”
And if you’re looking for a hidden gem, “Papay is a wonderful place for big skies, seas and landscapes, but sometimes you have to look a little closer to find the real gems. From May until mid-September the Primula Scotica is in flower, a mighty bloom just about as big as your little fingernail. Look out for the strange ritual of folk crawling on their hands and knees up on North Hill to look at them; luckily we have a virtual Amazon forest of them.”
Closer to home, Papay’s Ranger explains that for him, “The Old Pier is my favourite spot on Papay – it has so many great memories for me going back to when I first visited the island. The sea is always beautiful, you can sit and watch the world go by, catch a boat trip over to the Holm of Papay, or investigate The Kelp Store, our arts and heritage centre.”
Papay certainly is a little slice of island paradise.
Orkney Ferries runs sailings between Papa Westray and Kirkwall on Mainland Orkney on a Tuesday and Friday. During the summer they also operate daily ferries between Westray and Papa Westray.
Loganair fly between Papa Westray and Kirkwall on Mainland Orkney throughout the summer. Flights may travel via other islands.
Find out more about getting to Mainland Orkney.
Want to find out more about Papa Westray and explore more of our amazing islands?
Download the free Scottish Islands Passport app to:
- discover your perfect island match,
- find out about the experiences each island has to offer,
- collect passport stamps for the islands you visit,
- find information on accommodation, travel and island amenities.