Shapinsay is a small, low-lying island just a few miles north east of Kirkwall in Orkney.
The green and fertile island of Shapinsay is just 30 minutes by ferry from Kirkwall. Tradition has it that this little isle was home to banished thieves and witches but now it is the haunt of cormorants, kittiwakes and seals. The main settlement is Balfour village, built in the late 18th century as a home for smiths, carpenters and masons employed on the Balfour estate.
Shapinsays highest point is Ward Hill at just 210 ft, from where you can see almost all the other Orkney isles. The island is 6 miles (10 km) long. Interesting features of the island are its storm beaches, or as they are known locally, 'ayres' - a name rooted in the Old Norse meaning a strip of sea water completely shut off from the ocean by narrow necks of land. Look for these at Vasa Loch and Lairo Water. The best beach is sandy Sandgarth Bay in the south-east.
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