Orkney isn’t known for its collection of trees, but it does host the most northerly ancient woodland in the British Isles. Berriedale Wood, perched amongst the hills a mile north of Rackwick on the island of Hoy, is a beautifully unique and special place to visit.
In the shelter of a gully you can expect to see various species, including downy birch, rowan, aspen and willow. The wood is also an important haven for wildlife and other flowers and fauna.
The small patch of woodland has an almost alien appearance in the barren landscape of the Hoy hills, and it is well worth the effort to visit.
How to get there
There are daily Orkney Ferries sailings to the island of Hoy from Houton (car ferry) and from Stromness (passenger ferry only).
In the area
Rackwick – this old crofting community sits above a stunning bay, with a beautiful beach surrounded by huge sandstone cliffs. It’s one of Orkney’s most iconic locations.
The Old Man of Hoy – take the coastal path from Rackwick and visit the Old Man of Hoy, a towering sea-stack rising from the surf below. You’ll be able to spot seabirds, including puffins, in the surrounding area. Take a walk north up the coast to stand on top of St John’s Head, the highest vertical sea cliff in the UK, too.
Sea eagles – Hoy has been home to a pair of juvenile sea eagles over recent years. The pair has had two unsuccessful breeding attempts so far but it’s hoped they’ll return for a third try in 2017. If they appear, you’ll be able to join RSPB experts in the Dwarfie Stone car-park en-route to Rackwick to get a glimpse of them as they soar through the valley.
Scapa Flow Visitor Centre and Museum – learn all about Orkney’s wartime history with a fascinating tour around this centre, featuring information and artefacts on WWI and WWII and the importance of Hoy and Scapa Flow during the conflicts. Guided tours of the Lyness area are available too.
Find out more
Visit the official Hoy website for other recommendations on things to see and do.