“The Egypt of the North”
Rousay is a middle-sized Orcadian island. In a compact building in the heart of an organic farm beneath the purple heather of the hill behind, overlooking a narrow channel to Wyre, Rousay Hostel is almost the platonic ideal of ‘hidden gem’. It is just a hop, a skip and a jump from shops, restaurant, pub, bike hire and the pier. The pier will give you the chance to take a ferry to explore the other nearby islands. Just down the road is RSPB Trumland for their ‘star species’ great skuas, merlins and hen harriers. Hen harriers – a rare and precious opportunity these days.
But you might be wondering why I chose the headline “Egypt of the North”. The name is a reference to its rich, rich archaeological history. There’s a Neolithic settlement, Bronze Age burial mounds, Iron age buildings, viking boat burials and ancient churches. The Scottish Islands are replete with fascinating reminders of our tough seafaring ancestors, but Rousay wears the crown, an embarrassment of archaeological riches crammed into this small island.
I wonder if Egypt ever refers to itself as ‘The Rousay of the desert’?