What to see and do in Orkney.


Located on Swannay Farm on the North West coast of Orkney West Mainland, Swannay Cottage offers easy access to the Swannay, Boardhouse and Hundland lochs, famed for their native Brown trout. Game fishing in Orkney on all but one of our lochs (Skaill) is entirely free and unlicensed and boat hire is available locally. Sea trout are present in some numbers at many accessible locations around the coastline of West Mainland. More about the amazing trout fishing opportunities can be found on the Orkney Trout Fishing Association website. We recommended that you join this organisation for the benefits it entails and to help preserve Orkney’s game fishing heritage. Sea fishing is also available with boat hire from Stromness.


Orkney’s greylag geese offer a unique sporting opportunity and are present in immense numbers throughout the season. Wigeon, teal, mallard and tufted duck are plentiful on and around nearby lochs and local water meadows contain a healthy population of snipe. Other game and wildfowl species present include the pink footed goose, gadwall, pochard, goldeneye, pintail, coot, moorhen, golden plover, woodcock and surprisingly large numbers of pheasant. Care should be exercised as we also have protected white fronted geese and jack snipe in the county. Feral pigeon, starling and hooded crow may be shot where doing so meets the terms of the general licences (which will usually be the case) and, along with rabbit and brown rat, provide ample sporting opportunities for the airgunner, rough shooter or sporting rifleman. There is a utility room where gundogs can be cleaned and game processed and there is space to hang game and a fridge freezer on site. Permission to shoot over Swannay farm and its adjacent loch is not included in your rental, but please ask and permission can be granted. You should find it easy to secure additional permissions, particularly where pest species and greylag geese are concerned. Please don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss your shooting requirements as we have many contacts with other landowners throughout the county.


West Mainland is a Mecca for birdwatchers. The spectacular cliffs of Swannay Farm, some of the highest on the Orkney Mainland, host seabird colonies, rock doves and the occasional nesting raven. Much of the island is taken up by numerous nature reserves containing a wide variety of habitat and a huge array of bird species. Raptors in particular are plentiful with over 100 pairs of hen harriers breeding in the county last year (2011) and abundant short eared owls, both of which can frequently be seen hunting for the unique Orkney vole.

More information can be found on the excellent RSPB Orkney blog.

Snorkeling and diving

The more adventurous can snorkel or dive to see Orkney’s amazing underwater wildlife and maritime history,
including numerous block ships and the German WW1 high seas fleet.


West Mainland contains much of Orkney’s earlier archaeological heritage – Skara Brae, the Stones of Stenness,
the Rings of Brodgar and Maes Howe are all definitely worth a visit. Kirbister Farm Museum is close by.