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Eday is a long thin island, lying centrally within the Outer North Isles. The geology is composed largely of red and yellow Eday Sandstone, exposed at many places around the coast but most dramatically at the iconic Red Head to the north.

Two distinct areas of upland moorland at the north and south of the island are joined by a narrow isthmus and farmed, sloping margins hug the coasts. Small uninhabited islands are dotted around the north, west and south coasts.

There is a rich natural and cultural heritage, much of which is revealed in the Eday Heritage Centre and Heritage Trail. Settlement is scattered over the entire island, with a focus of community facilities at Hammarhill.

Eday’s mix of habitats is reflected in prolific bird life. Red-throated diver’s nest at Mill Loch and the extensive areas of moorland support numerous breeding birds including, arctic skua, great skua and short-eared owl. Since 2017 a male Snowy Owl has taken up residence for extended periods at the north end of the island. Puffin breed on the low cliffs and the Calf of Eday supports one of Orkney’s largest breeding seabird colonies.

The Neolithic Setter Stone is positioned on a saddle between Mill Loch and Carrick Bay and is a prominent feature in a landscape that is rich in prehistory, including a bronze age fold, ancient field boundaries and multiple burial cairns. There are three tombs in the stone’s vicinity, dating from different periods within the Neolithic. The most complete is the Vinquoy Chambered Cairn, a restored maeshowe-type tomb made from red Eday sandstone.

Carrick House – a 17th Century laird’s house, is situated in Carrick Bay, overlooking the Calf of Eday. Remnants of industrial activities spanning the last four centuries are visible all around. Extensive peat-digging and exportation was undertaken – Eday peats were named ‘inkies’ for their particularly dark colour. Kelp making was also important in the 17th and 18th centuries and stone lined pits can be found around the coast. On the Calf of Eday the remnants of a 17th Century salt works are still visible.

Today the fast-flowing tidal stream at the south of the island – ‘the Falls of Warness’ is the site of the European Marine Energy Company (EMEC’s) tidal test facility. Eday’s Surf ‘n’ Turf’ project sees surplus power from this site and the island’s own community run turbine, being converted into hydrogen gas on the island. This is transported to Kirkwall where it is used to provide electricity for island ferries and vehicles.


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