Mull Head, Deerness

  • North from Brough of Deerness - © William Mackesy
  • Rock pavements, looking south - © William Mackesy
  • Brough of Deerness - © William Mackesy
  • North, turning back from sea - © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • Chapel on Brough of Deerness - © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • The Gloup - © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy

Key information: Mull Head, Deerness

  • Lovely walking to a north-eastern headland via the Brough of Deerness with its ancient ruins. Fine seascapes, low cliffs, a lot of wildlife.
  •  Always unpredictable weather. Come prepared.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating86
  • Beauty31
  • Natural interest16
  • Human interest10
  • Charisma30
  • Negative points1
  • Total rating86
  • Note: Neg: likely bad weather

Vital Statistics

  • Length: Variable
  • Maximum Altitude: N/A
  • Level of Difficulty: Variable
Rock pavements, looking south - © William Mackesy


This walk in the far east of the Orkney mainland is evidence for Walkopedia's growing belief that low(ish) cliffs are preferable for walking to high ones: after the initial wow at the grandeur of big cliffs, you can be removed from the detail of what is going on at sea level, and, unless at the top of said cliffs and benefiting from wide landscape views, can be curiously limited.

From the car park you will reach the coast at The Gloup, a long, collapsed sea cave running a surprising way back into the hill. Maybe a km to the north, over broken sandstone pavements, you will find that almost-island the Brough of Deerness, cliff-girt (the path up is narrow enough to merit chains) and sporting the ruins of a C12 Norse-era chapel, itself built on the site of Pictish wooden chapel. A delightful place of long folded grass under which you will find the tunnels of Orkney voles.

Another km of really lovely walking on the pristine, heathery, boggy heath above the cliffs gets you to the corner of the eastern mainland at Mull Head. When we were there, the fine swell and breakers of the east coast turned to almost sinister calm round the corner, the junction marked by some very turbulent water.

Another lovely km+ along the north coast gets you to a fence and a right turn back over the moorland and traditional farmland of the interior to complete your circuit.

You will see sea-birds aplenty and, if lucky, seals basking on the flat cliff-base shelves.

See the Cicerone guide for details.

The full circuit is around 7km, 3 hours or so without extended time out at the Brough.

Find relevant books by using our Amazon search function:


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

of this walk

Other accounts: share your experiences

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


See also expedition planning, including our universal expedition checklist. Walkopedia encourages responsible travel.

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.

North, turning back from sea - © William Mackesy

share your experiences

Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).

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

© William Mackesy...

Responsible travel matters, a lot. How you travel will make a real difference - for better or worse. PLEASE consider this when making plans. Read more

All material on this website is © Walkopedia Ltd 2008 - 2020, unless specified otherwise.