Across the barriers

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  • Churchill Barrier No. 2
    Churchill Barrier No. 2
  • Churchill Barrier No. 3, between Holm and Burray
    Churchill Barrier No. 3, between Holm and Burray
  • Sands of Wright, South Ronaldsay, Orkney.
    Sands of Wright, South Ronaldsay, Orkney
  • The exterior of the Italian Chapel on Lamb Holm, Orkney
    The Italian Chapel on Lamb Holm, Orkney
  • Inside the Tomb of the Eagles
    Inside the Tomb of the Eagles

The islands of Lamb Holm, Glimps Holm, Burray and South Ronaldsay are connected to the Orkney Mainland via the Churchill Barriers. Follow this itinerary to make the most of your time across the barriers.

The Churchhill Barriers were built by the Italian prisoners of war to protect the British fleet anchored in the Scapa Flow after the sinking of HMS Royal Oak in October 1939. They link the Orkney Mainland to the island of South Ronaldsay via Burray, Lamb Holm and Glimps Holm. From the Churchill Barriers, enjoy the views over Scapa Flow.

Follow the A961 from Mainland on to the small uninhabited island of Lamb Holm where you will find the remarkable Italian Chapel. Built by Italian prisoners of war during World War II, the highly ornamented Italian Chapel is now one of the island's main attractions. Known as the ‘miracle of Camp 60’ the church stands as a memorial to all those lost in wartime as well as a monument to hope and faith in exile. This ornate and peaceful place is one of the most visited attractions in Orkney and is still used as a Catholic Chapel.

On Burray, pay a visit to the Orkney Fossil and Heritage Centre. This intriguing collection of fossils, from Orkney and around the world, includes some rare and beautifully preserved specimens. The Heritage Galleries take you through the 20th century in Orkney with displays of everyday objects and war-time relics. The Building the Barriers exhibition shows the extraordinary feat of engineering that resulted in causeways linking several of the Orkney Isles. Enjoy lunch and freshly baked treats in the café and browse through an extensive range of craft items include textiles, pottery, jewellery, paintings and greeting cards in the gift shop.

Continue on the A961 over the fourth Churchill Barrier to the island of South Ronaldsay, follow the road around the coastline to the village of St Margaret’s Hope. Enjoy a leisurely stroll through this picturesque village and pay a visit to the Loft Gallery which hosts a magnificent selection of beautifully crafted Orkney artwork and gifts. View the unique, handwoven tapestries of Leila Thompson at the Hoxa Tapestry Gallery located a 10 minute drive outside the village. Afterwards, enjoy a bite to eat at the Hoxa Tearooms, followed by a stroll along the Sands of Wright. Look out for seals as you enjoy a walk along the beautiful sandy beach and enjoy the natural landscape.

Spend the afternoon exploring the magnificent Tomb of the Eagles, situated a 15 minute drive down the length of the island past the turn-off to Burwick pier. This impressive chambered tomb was discovered by local farmer Mr Ronald Simison of Liddle Farm. Dating from around 3000 BC the name Tomb of the Eagles comes from the many talons and claws of sea eagles found in the burial chambers. Analysis of the bones found during excavation indicate that up to 340 people were buried here. Explore the tomb, visitor centre and surrounding area and take a walk along the cliffs at the Isbister coastline.

Finish your tour by taking the road back towards Burray and enjoy an evening meal at the Sands Hotel. Watch the sunset over the Churchill Barriers and choose from a delicious selection of locally produced food.