Marwick Head

  • North over Birsay Bay - © William Mackesy
  • South over Mar Wick bay - © William Mackesy
  • South over Kitchener Memorial - © William Mackesy
  • Mar Wick bay - © William Mackesy
  •  Last nests of the season - © William Mackesy
  • South over Mar Wick bay - © William Mackesy

Key information: Marwick Head

  • Climb the high cliffs of Marwick Head in the north-west of the Orkney mainland, taking in the beautiful views down the coast to the looming silhouette of Hoy.
  • At the top of the ridge you will find the Kitchener memorial. The cliffs are big and dramatically vertical here.
  • Always unpredictable weather. Come prepared.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating84
  • Beauty32
  • Natural interest16
  • Human interest6
  • Charisma31
  • Negative points1
  • Total rating84
  • Note: Neg: likely bad weather

Vital Statistics

  • Length: 3 hrs
  • Maximum Altitude: N/A
  • Level of Difficulty: Moderate
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South over Mar Wick bay - © William Mackesy

WALK SUMMARY

Climb from the interesting cove of Mar Wick to the high cliffs of Marwick Head in the north-west of the Orkney mainland, taking in the beautiful views down the western coast of the mainland to the looming silhouette of Hoy, with the Old Man's head peeking over the lower horizon.

Enjoy the thinly layered sandstone and the variety of seabirds, including the ever-lovable puffin, kittiwake, guillemot and razorbill, as well as fulmer, cormorants and great skua, in huge numbers in the spring and early summer breeding seasons.

At the top of the ridge you will find the Kitchener memorial, to the WW1 Minister of War who was drowned when his ship hit a mine in 1916. The cliffs are big and dramatically vertical here.

At the far end of the high ridge, you look north over wide Birsay Bay to the islet the Bough of Birsay with its ruined Pictish and Norse settlements.

From here you can retrace your steps (1.5hr round trip), or continue ahead to Harpsquoy farm, where you turn right and right again to return on minor lanes through pretty farmland at the back of the Marwick Head hill in 3 hrs or so. See the Cicerone guide for details.

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ALL IDEAS AND PHOTOS WELCOME!

For more information and photos, including detailed practical information and some warnings, see our Orkneys walk page.

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Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

Mar Wick bay - © William Mackesy

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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 Last nests of the season - © William Mackesy...
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