The island of Wyre is well worth a visit if you are interested in Orkney’s Viking past, with a short ferry trip from Tingwall a day can be easily spent walking on Wyre. After landing at the pier it is advisable to make use of the facilities in the waiting room!
Follow the road, which veers right and a little way along there is a hall also on the right with more information about the island and its heritage.
Now you can either follow the road straight down to the Taing OR turn right down the path to the chapel. If you choose to head to the Taing on the shore there can be seen grey and common seals. It is also a good place to see migrating waders and water fowl as well as getting a good view down Eynhallow Sound.
If you want a shorter walk and are interested in Orkney’s Viking past, turn down the path at the hall that leads to St Mary's Chapel.
The chapel was built in the second half of the 12 century by either Kolbein Hruga (who also built the nearby castle) or his son Bjarni (who was Bishop of Orkney) both notable individuals and mentioned in the Orkneyinga Saga. Although roofless it is a fine example of a Romanesque chapel that would have served a Norse family. The surrounding graveyard has a particularly spectacular wall covered in lichen, commonly known as Old Mans Beard.
Not far from the chapel to the north is the farm of The Bu which was the childhood home of Orcadian writer Edwin Muir who is recognised as one of the great Scottish writers of the 20th century.
Leave the grave yard over the wall using the stepping stones in the wall and walk up the brae to the remains of Cubbie Roo's castle. According to the Orkneyinga Saga, Kolbein Hruga (also known as Cubbie Roo) built the castle here and it is the oldest dated square keep castle in Scotland. Situated on the summit of the highest point of the island, the site has views over the whole island and the surrounding sea.
From here you can return past the chapel up the track and back on to the road.
submitted by Sandra Miller, World Heritage Ranger