This section of the Way begins at the Broch of Gurness. A rigorous shore and clifftop walk with views to Rousay, Eynhallow and Westray.

Locations Public Convenience Caution Standing Stone
ThemeLoss
Length12.5 miles (20 km)
TerrainRough coastal walking with some recourse to road. There are some very steep sections at Costa Hill and Whitaloo Point.
Total ascent260m
Grugar road section1.93km (1.2 miles)
Midhouse road section1.47km (0.9 miles)
Total off road10.4 miles (16.6 km)
Time7-9 hours

The first stage of the pilgrimage, from Evie (Gurness) to Birsay, follows the journey of Magnus’s body as it was carried from Gurness to Christ Kirk in Birsay. Our theme for this stage of the journey is, therefore, Loss – reflecting on the death of Magnus, and our own stories of loss. The original procession likely follows roughly where the main road now leads, on high ground to the Loch of Swannay, skirting Costa Hill and proceeding past Crustan to Northside and on to St Magnus Kirk.

Our route, whilst close to this, takes the more scenic coastal option as much as possible, with stunning views of Eynhallow, Rousay, Westray and the Brough of Birsay. The sites of Mansie Stanes, or Magnus Stones, where they rested the body on the way, are pointed out though none are now visible in the landscape. At times of very high tides or storms, the first section along the shore past the public toilets at Aikerness may be impassable and unsafe. In these circumstances, we would advise that walkers take the road that leads from the toilets to Evie Village, turn right at the junction onto the main road and walk along the road till rejoining the route 2 miles from the junction. Tide times at Aikerness are approximately the same as at Tingwall (see https://www.tidetimes.org.uk/tingwall-tide-times). You can also download a detailed route description and gpx file for use with mapping software.

Some of the walk on this section is hard going like any experience of loss. We ask ourselves:

What have been the most significant losses in my own life?

How have these losses shaped my identity and my expectations of life?

What am I afraid of losing and why?

What new insights on the Way have helped me respond to loss?

Route Development

Evie Coast walking terrain

The coastal walking in Evie, from Aikerness onwards, is quite challenging. The ground is very rough with stones and tussocky grass. It is some of the hardest walking on the entire route and its easy to turn an ankle. In dry weather it is easy to walk along the shore instead but in wet weather this too becomes challenging as the rocks are slippy. We would like to be able to improve the ground without putting a formal path in, since the rough walking is part of the character of this part of the way. We would also like to work with landowners on some of the places where the fields come very close to the shore to make a little more room for walkers.

Evie Coast - Grugar to Urrigar

In the long term we would like to be able to walk along the entire coast from Gurness to Costa Hill. The routes up to the road and back can then be used as access points for shorter walks. The section between Grugar and Urrigar requires quite a lot of work, in co-operation with lots of different landowners, to make it walkable. At present the fencing is too tight against the shore and there are some precipitous drops. We need to raise a considerable sum of money and have the agreement of every landowner in order to progress this further.

This project is being part financed by the Scottish Government and the European Community Orkney LEADER 2014 – 2020 Programme