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- Small, peaceful and friendly site on the beach-filled island of Sanday
- On the beachfront and in a wildlife haven
- Bike hire, cooking area, laundry and free wifi
Scottish islands, you may have already figured, are rather what you might call spectacular. And so it is with the Isle of Sanday, belonging to the Orkney family and a place of smashingly sandy beaches, prehistory and legend, kayaking and surfing, and even a nine-hole golf course…
And on the isle there's Ayre's Rock Hostel and Camp Site, a small, peaceful and amiable place set on the beachfront and run by warm and welcoming owners Julie and Paul. (This feels like the place to point out the chip shop local to the site too, which sorts islanders and guests with hot suppers every Saturday night.)
Naturally the site's surrounds and the island as a whole are a wildlife haven as well: spot otters ashore and the odd basking shark or porpoise in the surrounding waters, as well as puffins colourfully sitting a short walk away around the cliff.
Or you could just wander the bays and white and clean sands the island is named for, fish for trout in the lochs, visit the ancient archaeological sites, climb the sand dunes to see those spectacular Sanday views, hire a bike on site for a peaceful pedal – or take a walk with the ranger to visit the island lighthouse? The ranger also does guided walks such as rockpooling at Ayres Rock; ask Paul and Julie how to get in touch.
Ayres Rock Hostel and Camp Site has cleanly-kept facilities including toilets, a shower, a washing-up area, laundry and free wifi. A cooking area is available for guests' use.
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However, where the pitch or accommodation occupancy allows it, you can make a booking for up to 30 adults and 30 children in one booking.
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Large groups: check the listing page for any group restrictions set out in the terms and section titled ‘Please note’.
Large tents/caravans: check the restrictions on unit dimensions to ensure your unit is suitable for the space you will be provided with.
Leisure on site
Bar or club house
Indoor swimming pool
Outdoor swimming pool
Amenities on site
Ice pack freezing
Parent & baby washroom
Pick-up from public transport
Gas cylinders available
Commercial vehicles allowed
Dogs allowed all year
Horse riding nearby
Indoor pool nearby
D. of E. welcome
Single-sex groups welcome
Student groups welcome
Public transport nearby
Small (11-25 pitches)
- Coach stations
Scrabster: Pier Coach Stop — 55.6 miles
- Train stations
Thurso Rail Station — 56.5 miles
- Ferry ports
Sanday Orkney Ferry Terminal — 5.4 miles
5.4 miles Stronsay Orkney Ferry Terminal — 7.9 miles
7.9 miles Eday Orkney Ferry Terminal — 8.4 miles
Sanday Airport — 1.3 miles
1.3 miles Eday Airport — 7.1 miles
7.1 miles Stronsay Airport — 7.1 miles
The ferry from Kirkwall to Sanday takes approximately 1 hour 40 minutes, then from Loth ferry port the campsite is 6 miles away. Head north from the port and at the junction signposted airport, turn left on to Coo Road.
The Sanday airfield is 2 miles away - the flight from Kirkwall takes just 11 minutes and from there a bus service runs all year or a taxi service is also available.
Ayres Rock Hostel and Camp Site is in a stellar spot for all manner of activities like surfing, kayaking and windsurfing, as well as archaeology hunting, guided and wandery walks, beachcombing and rockpooling or spotting the local wildlife…
Attractions nearby recommended by Julie and Paul include the Neolithic Quoyness chambered cairn, dating back to at least 2000BC and one of the Orkney's best-known archaeological sites. The cairn has a main chamber and six cells and is open all year with free admission.
Other options are:
The tidal sandy bay and series of dunes at Cata Sand; waders and common seals can be seen here and in nearby Newark Bay.
Tresness Farm, a nineteenth century horse engine house with an octagonal pyramidal roof.
Tresness and the Broch of Wasso, part of the wall of the broch (a drystone hollow-walled structure unique to Scotland and dating back to the Iron Age), and the chambered tomb at the end of the Ness.
The wreck of a German destroyer at the Bay of Lopness, viewable at low tide. A picnic area and information board are at the site.
The lighthouse Start Point, fitted in 1806 with the first revolving light in Scotland by Robert Stevenson, grandfather of Robert Louis Stevenson.
The wartime radar station at Lettan.
The Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) at Northwall, an area of shallow lochans (small lochs) and wet machair (flat, low-lying sand plains), and home to waders, breeding ducks, swans and migrants.
The Holms of Spurness, a breeding site of the grey seal; look out for pups in October.
Tofts Ness, a prehistoric funerary complex made up of 500 burial mounds.
The burial mound of Rethie Tain, probably a chambered tomb similar to Quoyness.
The Pagan Viking graves of the Ness of Brough.
Waders and seals at Otterswick.
The abandoned nineteenth-century village of Ortie.
The nineteenth century Westove estate house at Scar and the nearby remains of a stone windmill.
Boloquoy Mill, an early nineteenth-century water-driven meal mill constructed of random rubble with a slated roof.
The medieval church and burial ground of Cross Kirk, dating back to the sixteenth century but probably standing on the site of a Viking settlement.
- Skara Brae (29.3 miles)
Find local routes on the National Cycle Network - over 12,000 miles of cycling routes.