Hill: Fitty Hill, Westray, Orkney
Date: Monday 16th May 2011
Company: Just myself
Dog friendly: Not this route

I drove to Kirkwall this morning to catch the Orkney Ferries North Isles ferry from Kirkwall to Westray. Cost of ferry: £14.70 return.

Earl Sigurd Kirkwall to Westray ferry:

The crossing was nothing special as the clag was down resulting in almost zero views. Approximately 90 minutes later, I arrived at Rapness in Westray.

Arrival at Rapness, Westray:

On arrival at Rapness, I used the Westray Bus Service. I wasn't sure of the best starting point for Fitty hill. I asked the driver and he suggested dropping me off at Midbea. Before leaving the bus the driver asked if I would like picked-up later in the day. I advised that my aim would be to walk to Pierowall and that I would like picked up there.

Cost of bus trip from Rapness to Midbea, only £1.50. Cost of bus trip from Pierowall back to Rapness, only £2.00. Much cheaper than taking the car across .

Dropped-off at Midbea:

I made up the following route as I went along.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

From Midbea, I thought it best to head along the road towards Kirbest - a more direct route to Fitty hill would have involved climbing numerous barbed-wire fences and crossing fields with cattle in them.

Road towards Kirbest:

I was a bit surprised to find so many dilapidated buildings on Westray. Many of the buildings have nice flagstone roofs. Many dykes are also built from flagstone.

Dilapidated buildings en-route to Kirbest:

It was disappointing to see Fitty hill in clag. Unfortunately, it would remain in clag throughout the day .

Skea hill and Fitty Hill in clag:

On reaching Kirbest, I followed a marked coastal route leading out towards Noup Head.


Farm below Skea hill:

I followed the coastal track for a few hundred metres and then, after crossing a couple of stiles, followed a dyke up Skea hill.

Looking back at dyke on Skea hill:

The ascent of Skea hill was really easy but battle was soon to commence.

Ascending Skea hill:

The first line of defence on Skea hill was fulmars. Two of these fulmars aimed bright yellow projectile vomit at me. Thankfully they missed. I took a couple of photos of one of them.


Fulmar egg:


A bit further up the hill and I met the second line of defence – a couple of Arctic Terns that were not happy with me walking up the hill. Lots of noise but no attack. The worst was yet to come.

The third line of defence, I recognised straight away from my visit to Rousay the day previous. Every rock near the summit had a Great Skua sitting on it – there were loads of them! This got me wondering if Skea hill actually meant Skua hill.

Great Skua above Skea hill:

For now the skuas just observed me.

Orkney stylish stile:

Two great skuas on Skea hill:

However, as I began my ascent up Fitty hill from the col between Skea hill and Fitty hill the full-on attack began. I got my walking pole out which worked really well at deterring them from pecking my head. At one point I had two Skuas attacking simultaneously.

I recalled watching a programme on TV years ago about these birds and also recalled that the locals put slate under their bonnets to prevent head wounds. I quickly scanned the ground for a suitable stone and within seconds found one. I put it on top of my hat and under my hood. This gave my neck plenty exercise as the stone was far too big and heavy .

Got a couple of good photos showing how brave these birds were standing their ground.

Great Skua on Fitty hill:

Great Skua on Fitty hill:

As I continued up the hill, I passed a concrete block that looked a bit like a trig point.

Concrete block on slopes of Fitty hill:

I also passed lots of nice blue flowers - Spring Squill.

Spring Squill:

As I approached the summit, I saw the last of the Skuas.

Approaching summit of Fitty hill:

Was happy to have avoided the vomit and pecks to reach this summit. Shame there were no views.

Summit trig point:

From the summit, I continued along the ridge towards Gallo hill. On reaching the col between Fitty Hill and Gallo hill I descended towards Lengemire farm.

I followed a small burn leading towards the farm and then come to a field with cattle in it. Rather than cross a dodgy barbed-wire fence I opted to go through the field with the cattle. Thankfully they didn't bother me.

After walking round the farm, I followed the road out towards the B9067.

Lengemire farm:

Walk out from Lengemire farm to B9067:

The walk to Pierowall was nice and relaxing . A better route off of Fitty hill would be to continue to the summit of Gallo hill and then descend directly towards the wind turbine. Then follow the wind-turbine track out to the B9067.

B9067 towards Pierowall:


On reaching the outskirts or Pierowall, I climbed a small wall to get down onto the shore and then walked along the shore into the centre of the village.

Pierowall from shore:

Nice clear water:

I had a few hours to kill so I spent time on the beach, visited the general store and had a pint in the Pierowall Hotel.

A Guinness in the Pierowall Hotel:

I had a look at the price of fuel in Pierowall - £1.579 per litre .

The Westray Bus Service bus arrived bang on time picking me up at the Pierowall hotel bus shelter. I then returned to Kirkwall on the Earl Thorfinn.

Earl Thorfinn Westray to Kirkwall ferry:

Seal on a buoy:

On the way back, I wasn't 100% sure what the following was until I found the answer on Google: click here for more info.

Tidal turbine, off coast of Eday:

Seals in Westray Firth:

Got back in Kirkwall around 19:40. A long eventful day for a 169m hill!