Monday, 6 July 2015

Island 277 - Outer Holm of Ire, Sanday, Orkney

Outer Holm of Ire is located to the north of Inner Holm of Ire and can be accessed across a 200 metre long rocky tidal causeway from the north end of Inner Holm.  The highest point on the island is only 8 metres above sea level.  The island is oval in shape and is about 500 metres from north to south and 400 metres from east to west.  It is covered in rough grass and the ground is much more boggy and hummocky than that on Inner Holm.  

When I visited in mid June 2015 there were lots of seabirds nesting around the edges of the island - mainly gulls, terns and oystercatchers.  I walked carefully across the middle to the cairn at the northern end of the island.  The cairn is marked on the OS map, so has presumably been there a long time.  I don't know how long the whale skull next to it had been there.  I was obviously upsetting the birds, so didn't stay long. I sat and ate an empire biscuit by the cairn and when I got up I spotted a baby bird sitting motionless and silent in the grass less than 3 feet from where I had been sitting. 

Several ships have been wrecked on Outer Holm of Ire, including the Utrecht, a Dutch frigate, which ran aground in February 1807.  More recently in 1939 a trawler from Aberdeen called Alex Hastings or Hastie ran aground on the wave cut platform to the north of Outer Holm called Landward Geo.  The boiler and other smaller metal remains of this boat can still be seen. 

Cairn and whale skull at the north end of the island looking towards Landward Geo.  The boiler of the Alex Hastings can be seen in the distance.
Whale skull close up

Southern end of Outer Holm of Ire looking towards Inner Holm

Small pond on the eastern side of Outer Holm

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