Orkney & Shetland 2019 - Day 16

Westray - Seals and Headstones


The weather forecast for Friday was for sunny intervals and a mild breeze. This turned out to be understated - little cloud, no wind and temperatues around 13C. So after breakfast we wandered next door to the Heritage Centre to learn more about Westray's history. From there we visited the Lady Kirk Church and found a group of seals sunbathing in the nearby kelp beds. We then visited the Links of Noltland, the site of various archaeological finds. The location gives a good view of the coast and sandy beach. With a warm sun and no wind we had our picnic lunch here before heading up the rough road back to Noup Head to watch the gannets and the herd of seals on the rocks below the lighthouse.

Lady Kirk at Pierowall

Overlooking the bay at Pierowall lies the remains of Lady Kirk Church. It has Viking connections. Across the road is the Pierowall War Memorial thsat commemorarates the local men and women who died during the two wars. Of note are the 3 Rendall names who served in the New Zealand forces.

The War Memorial at Pierowall
Note the Rendall names in the Australia and and New Zealand Armies in WW1.
Note two more Rendall names in the New Zealand Army for WW2.
The Pierowall Church
Ancient headstones from an earlier church

Seals at Pierowall

In front of the Lady Kirk Church lies a stretch of tidal rocks with extensive kelp beds. Amomgst the kelp was a herd of seals enjoying the sunshine. We stopped for a while to watch them.

Looking south across the kelp towards Pierowall

The Links of Noltland

There are several "tangle dykes" here these are low stone walls or dykes once used for the drying of large masses of seaweed. The dry matter was then exported to Scotland for manufacturing into chemicals, soaps and for the iodine in the seaweed. The industry died in 1968. There was a very large pile of seaweed on the beach so we could see why the dykes were built here. The local farmer was collecting a trailer load, presumably for fertiliser for his fields.

Piles of kelp on the shore.
Example of tangle dykes once used to dry the seaweed.

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Last updated: 25/06/2019