Rousay Hostel, on Rousay in the Orkneys.

‘A birdwatcher’s paradise’

From my cold, grey desk under a cold grey sky, I might wonder “Why travel out to an island like Rousay in the Orkneys?” What with the rain and the cold here in Derbyshire – surely an island in the North Sea will be even worse? I’m sure the Rousay Hostel will offer warmth, comfort and shelter.

And then I remember the landscape, the wildlife. Epitomised by the nature reserve at Trumland. Managed by the RSPB it covers nearly 10% of the island including rich and rare wet bog and heath. A brisk walk on a day like today will take me to the heights of  Knitchen Hill or Rousay’s loftiest point, Blotchnie field. From here I can enjoy spectacular views on all sides including much of the Orkney archipelago scattered across the sea – looking tiny and precious. Is that, way off on the horizon, Fair Isle?

The big views are impressive, but if I refocus closer to home, there are all the tiny jewels of the moorlands to enjoy. I wish I could put a name to the micro flowers and the carnivorous plants in the bogs. Overhead and nesting close to the ground are phenomenal riches of birdlife. Here in Derbyshire we don’t see hen harriers anymore but on Rousay they perform their ‘skydance’. Great skua too – I will watch out for their nests as they can be jealously territorial. 

The hostel on Rousay, like Rousay itself is small, hospitable and friendly. They describe the island as ‘a birdwatcher’s paradise’.  I would never call myself a hardcore birder but I’m tempted by it. Go on, tempt yourself.