A warm family welcome.
The Barn, part of a range of accomadation offered at Chalmersquoy in Westray, is a beautifully renovated farm building on the edge of Pierowall, the island’s main town. The Harcus family have been here since, since -ooh- a long time ago. The Barn sleeps 12 in rooms for twos, threes and fours. The star of the show is the open plan ‘Laft’ with skylights, wooden features and comfortable chairs from which to enjoy the sea view. The family thing is important here. Visitors comment on the welcome, on the facilities and how this hostel is ‘a cut above’.
Their website invites guests to local events – typically hospitable of an island of only 600 people – notably the Westray Regatta (the last Saturday in July) with al the boats in the bay, a viking flavoured torch parade and boat burning followed by a dance at night. The musical theme continues as Micheal harcus is a gifted musician and organises weekly gigs in the ‘ Graand Owld Byre at Chalmersquoy‘. A varied mix of traditional, folk, country and family harmonies could be tasted all in one evening. After the music there is supper to follow each concert with lots of homebakes. These rmind your correspondent of the heritage and community of Levon Helm’s midnight rambles. Needless to say, I approve.
Of course you’ll want to get out and about, to leave the cosy charms of the hostel and taste the sea air. Although Westray is a moderately sized Orkney Island, it is still entirely explorable on foot or cycle. The sea is always present. The wildlife a constant companion. the spectacular sea cliffs around Noup Head are home to thousands of seabirds including an enormous colony of guillemot, black-legged kittiwake, razorbill and puffins. I am lead to believe that otter frequent the shores and we have photographic proof of seals basking ungainly on the beach.
Like its neighbours, Westray is imprinted with its history and heritage. Visit Noltland Castle to feel some of the turbulent stories like its role in the death of Darnley, husband of Mary, Queen of Scots. Find the oldest human figure in Britain: The Westray Wife. Explore the churches overlying older sacred sites.