Ayre’s Rock on Sanday

It takes time to savour the gentle charm.

No! Not that one, not the big red water carved dome in the Australian outback. That’s Ayer’s rock. This is Ayre’s rock. A subtle change of spelling that transports us from the hot heart of the southern hemisphere to a tiny bay bitten out of the Island of Sanday in the Orkneys. Sanday is not-quite-the most-northerly Orkney Island. Fishing boats are pulled up onto the pebbles. A seal rolls over and gazes with his big old eyes. A fisherman casts for trout.  Right on the water’s edge – any closer and you’d be wet – is Ayre’s Rock. A collection of whitewashed, stone roofed buildings bathed in the low late winter sun. They are gathered round a central courtyard: the small hostel, a self catering cottage, some glamping pods and a fish and chip shop. Imagine the freshness of those fish!

The Hostel sleeps eight in 3 rooms, including an en-suite family room. The gallery on their website not only shows off the hostel facilities but also gives some wonderful wildlife pictures too.  My favourite is the otters amongst the seaweed. 

Again, quoting from their website, the folk of Ayre’s Rock advise that ‘it takes time to savour (Sanday’s) gentle charm’ The list of over 20 places to visit on this tiny island tends to back this up! Not mention the kitesurfing, windsurfing and blokarts. I wonder if its a bit windy up there? 




anday is the perfect place to take time out, with long stretches of unspoilt sandy beaches, an abundance of birds, seals and other wildlife, glittering seas, clear air and spectacular skies. Those lucky enough to live here enjoy a rare quality of life in a small, friendly and safe community. Ayre’s Rock Hostel has accreditation by VisitScotland and is rated at 4 stars. There are two twin rooms and one family en suite room. A brand new conservatory and lounge area with expansive views over the Holms of Ire & Westray offers a comfortable place to relax after a day’s exploration. A kitchen is available for self-catering, continental breakfast is included. One and two berth camping pods are available. Evening meals can be provided by arrangement. Takeaways are also available from the Ayre’s Rock Chip Shop every Saturday.

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