I am delighted to be working with the Orkney International Science Festival again this year. For 2021 I am offering a series of daily wildlife walks and I am very grateful to festival director, Howie Firth, for asking if I could create this programme of events.
After several weeks of planning, I came up with a series of walks which I feel are true to my business ethics. As things have slowly opened up after Covid, I wanted to take people off the beaten track and escape the crowds, exploring less familiar areas while still offering a unique experience.
There has been much admin work behind this project, including creating a set of Terms & Conditions specifically for the festival, writing walk descriptions for both the website and the tickets, and providing photos to be used on the website and social media platforms.
The walks that I am offering from the 2nd to 8th September are as follows:
Thursday 2nd – Orphir Bay – This is one of the Hidden Gem Short walks on my website, and is one of my favourite walks on my local patch which I walk regularly throughout the year. It’s a 2 mile circular walk which takes in a variety of habitats including coastal, heath, farmland and woodland.
Friday 3rd – Yesnaby North & Yesnaby South – Yesnaby features as “A Walk on the Wild Side” on my website, and it is slightly different, in that I offer it as a choice walking either to the North or to the South. For the festival, I thought it would be interesting to walk both directions in one day, with a 1 hour break for lunch in the middle. So there is the choice of doing the morning, afternoon, or both walks if you are feeling adventurous. If you book for both Yesnaby walks you will get a discount.
Saturday 4th – Gruf Hill – Another of my Hidden Gem Short walks, Gruf Hill offers an introduction to the moorland habitat of the Orphir hills. The walk is on a reasonable path all the way, although it can be wet underfoot. We will see an interesting variety of wildlife and if we are lucky with the weather, the views from the top of Gruf Hill can be amazing.
Sunday 5th – Ward Hill – Orphir’s Ward Hill features as one of the Hidden Gem Long walks on my website. The path is initially the same as for Gruf Hill, but where it branches off, we will continue on up the track and across the moorland. This habitat is host to an interesting variety of plants, mosses, insects and birds. Although the walking can be rough in places, and there is a bit of a climb to get to the top, the views (on a clear day) are well worth the effort! All of my walks are at a leisurely pace to so we have time to spot wildlife and admire the scenery.
Monday 6th – Burwick Coastline – This is a really beautiful stretch of coastline, and one that I walk regularly in the autumn when I do my Grey Seal Pup walks, but I haven’t as yet offered it as a walk at other times of the year. We will take the coastal path from Burwick up the west coast of South Ronaldsay. This area is great for seeing seabirds, wildflowers, Grey Seals and if we are very lucky maybe a cetacean. There are dramatic cliffs, and on a clear day you can see across to the Scottish mainland.
Tuesday 7th – Flotta – Flotta is one of my favourite islands to visit and I am delighted that I can share this wonderful island with you during the festival. I consider it to be a Hidden Gem – it has a wonderful variety of wildlife, some interesting heritage and history, lovely walks, not many visitors, and a special attraction – The Flotta Penguins!
Wednesday 8th – Swanbister Circular – As we started with one of my Hidden Gem walks, I thought it only fair that we finished with one too. The Swanbister Circular is a 4 mile circular walk taking in a mixture of habitats including farmland, coastal and woodland, and is on tracks, paths and quiet single track roads. Regardless of the time of year, there is always something interesting to see on this walk.
After several months of hard work behind the scenes, it is fantastic to see tickets starting to sell for the walks. I am really looking forward to leading these walks, meeting lots of new people and introducing them to the Wild Orkney Walks experience.