Fourth largest of the Orkney Islands, South Ronaldsay (not to be confused with its far more Northern counterpart) serves as a perfect introduction to the Orkneys.
Regular ferries connect the village of Burwick with John o’ Groats on the mainland, from there you can explore the islands of Burray and the hulking mass of Mainland Orkney, but simply passing through South Ronaldsay would do this beautiful area a real disservice.
Much like the rest of the Orkneys there’s a multitude of stunning natural sights to take in, including rugged coastlines, plenty of wildlife and ancient history.
St. Margaret’s Hope is South Ronaldsay’s village and with around 550 people living there, it’s also Orkney’s third largest settlement. There are a few restaurants to eat at, as well as a handful of shops to buy your goods from. The Murray Arms Hotel is the place to stay in St. Margaret’s Hope, the traditional pub has 6 en suite bedrooms to stay in and a lively bar downstairs should you wish to get to know the locals. But if you want to get the true Orkney experience then you should try to stay somewhere a bit more remote.
When you choose to stay at one of these far-flung places you can really immerse yourself into the peaceful seclusion that only island life on the Orkneys can offer:
Wheems Organic Farm
Mike set up shop at Wheems Organic Farm over 30 years ago with his wife Christina. They’ve spent their time developing their 5 hectare holding, renovating the 200 year old farm buildings on the site and welcoming hundreds of visitors to their campsite which includes bell tents, camping pods, yurts, a loft space and a self-catering cottage. Just a stone’s throw away from the coast, you might be sharing the site with a handful of other people, but that doesn’t stop it from feeling truly remote and special.
Banks of Orkney
South Ronaldsay is the last place you’d expect to see a modern building, just the thought of how much a topographical survey of the land would cost is enough to put off any investor! But that didn’t deter Carole and Hamish who built the chic glass-clad Skerries Bistro. They run the restaurant along with managing a trio of self-catering accommodations. Sat right on the coastline, you’ll be able to watch the sunset each night and with zero light pollution you have an even greater chance of seeing The Merry Dancers (the Northern Lights).
Three miles outside of St. Margaret’s Hope, this good-sized farmhouse is ideal for families looking for a rural break with plenty of space to run around. A double bedroom, twin, and small room with a bunk bed can sleep 6 whilst a large lawn provides ample space for kids to run around in. No Wi-Fi guarantees that your family will be spending time with each other, rather than their phones and the kitchen is fitted with all the amenities that you’d ever need to cook some hearty Orcadian grub.
Bankburn House B&B
Mick and Wilma run this tidy Bed and Breakfast just on the outskirts of St. Margaret’s Hope and pride themselves on providing visitors with a comfortable stay and excellent service. Their Full Orcadian Breakfast is truly something to behold and, should you choose to, you can order an evening meal from the too. High-speed Wi-Fi runs throughout the B&B and the accommodation is well situated for travellers looking to visit the Tomb of the Eagles or play a round at South Ronaldsay Golf Course.