Monday, 6 July 2015

Island 276 - Inner Holm of Ire, Sanday, Orkney

Inner Holm of Ire, along with its sibling Outer Holm of Ire, are located to the north of the north west tip of Sanday, which is one of the larger Orkney Islands.  It is tidal and when I arrived about 2 1/2 hours before low tide the causeway over to it was clear and obviously had been for some time, as the rocks were dry.   I parked my car at the end of the metalled road outside a house called Airon.  However it looked as if I could have driven a few hundred metres further up the track and parked where the track finished.  There is a path to Whale Point but the plants don't grow very high on this windswept headland, so you could take any route you wanted to the cairn at Whale Point.  From there you continue northwards down the hill to the beach and then cross the 300 metre long rocky causeway at Inner Sound.  It is possible to avoid the few seaweedy patches and the climb on to the island is easy, as the highest point is only 8 metres above sea level.  Inner Holm of Ire is about 600 metres from north to south but only 200 metres from east to west at its widest point.

When I visited in mid June 2015 there were many seabirds nesting on both holms, although there were considerably more on Outer Holm than Inner Holm.  The oystercatchers were particularly annoyed by my presence, so I didn't linger long and quickly walked across the island and crossed to Outer Holm.  I also saw geese, eider ducks, great black backed gulls and a few terns.   Inner Holm is covered in rough grass and the thrift and birds foot trefoil were in flower.

 Cairn at Whale Point - looking north towards the Holms

 Inner Holm from Whale Point

 Cairn on Inner Holm of Ire
These 4 circular and 2 square stone structures are planticrubs, which were used to shelter plants like kale.  They are far more common on Shetland than Orkney.

 Cairn at the north end of Inner Holm - it is marked on the 1:25,000 scale map, so has obviously been there a while.

North end of Inner Holm - I have no idea what if anything this pole is meant to signify

 A ruined chapel is shown on the OS map at the south end of Inner Holm but I am not sure if this is it or maybe this another planticrub. The chapel was dedicated to St Colm.

 Or maybe these are the chapel ruins?

 Or maybe this?

 Thrift and birds foot trefoil at the south end of Inner Holm

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