Orkney Holiday Let
Fully-booked from 30th April to30th July
Cuween Cottage is a refurbished 19th Century farm-worker's dwelling, which sits below Cuween Hill chambered cairn, looking out across the islands in the Bay of Firth. There are many holiday properties in Orkney which have been built and finished to modern standards: this is not one of them. Read on only if you have an affection for out-of-the-way places which tell their own story. This is a bothy in the traditional sense (but with hot water, heating and modern appliances including a big telly and wifi....).
A kitchen and bathroom were added in the '60s (on the left in the picture) and refurbished in 2016. The original cottage is fully open-plan, with double-bed at one end, and the sofa, in front of the wood-burning stove, at the seaward hearth.
The cottage is a hideaway for one or two adults, and is ideal for archaeologists, birdwatchers, anglers, or anyone else looking for a quiet spot with a central location on the Orkney Mainland. Dogs are welcome, and they enjoy the garden, the half-acre "tree patch", and the open hill behind. Bookings are Sat-Sat. A week is £600, or £1050 for a fortnight (& preferential rates for returning guests). Do bear in mind that this is a quirky old place, at the end of an unsurfaced track. Anyone looking for something more conventional should contact Visit Orkney...
Mature shrubs and hedges, surprisingly large trees (for Orkney), greenhouse (smoking shelter), companion seat, chimenea, woodshed, pond, grass.
Gas hob, microwave, Rayburn, fridge, freezer, dishwasher, washer, tumble dryer, lightbox, toaster, mini oven, soup maker, dartboard, wee telly, DAB radio.
Ancient oil-fired Rayburn drives the central heating. Additional electric heaters are provided. Use as much electricity and hot water as you wish (bath is capacious but takes 30 minutes to fill!)
Double bed with firm mattress, good quality linen and plenty of pillows.
De rigeur in any holiday cottage, but firewood is in short supply on Orkney. The owner brings hardwood logs from a sustainable alder coppice woodland in Caithness: burn as much as you need.
Bits and Bobs
Telescope, guitar, hairdryer, printer, easel with acrylics and a blank canvas to use.
Free and unlimited. (NB - BT's best is 4MB/sec , on a good day.)
THINGS TO DO
Start with the superb 5000 year-old chambered cairn which overlooks the cottage. And Stonehall Neolithic Village is just over the garden fence (an excavation in 2000; settlement now visible to the imagination only).
The RSPB reserves are within easy reach, but some of the Orkney avian superstars can be seen from the garden...
Pentland Ferries - the independent, non-subsidised crossing from Gill's Bay to St. Margaret's Hope.
Northlink - the other lot, from Scrabster to Stromness.
Car Hire -
Cycle Hire -
Orkney Cycle Hire (Stromness)
Cycle Orkney (Kirkwall)
View from front door
St Magnus Way
The St Magnus Way is "a long distance pilgrimage route through Mainland Orkney, following the story of St Magnus and giving time and space for reflection on the journey."
Or, just take the dog for a stroll...
The trail passes along the skyline, right behind the cottage.
Some of the finest wild brown trout lochs in Britain are less than 15 minutes away: see Orkney Trout Fishing Association.
(Sea trout hotspots too, but good luck persuading anyone to tell you the locations.)
Fishing guides -
Brian Forbes (Facebook),
Cruan Stables are almost next door.
"Walk Highlands" website is a good starting point.