Dounby Walk

This is a 3-mile easy walk around the Northbigging Road.  Starting from the car park across from the Smithfield Hotel, walk north-east up past the new housing scheme of Quilco and where the Dounby Garage used to stand.  Dale Cottage, down in the valley, still referred to as The Coach House by the locals, was where the horse drawn gigs were left overnight.

Take the first road on your right, walk for about half a mile, then turn to look back to admire the panoramic view from Ravey Hill, via  Kitchener’s Memorial and Quoyloo (where one of the breweries is situated) to Hoy.

Then walk on past the burn where in spring you can see many wild flowers.  Passing Nistaben and Handest Cottage, you come to a new house named “Dippin House”.  It is so called because this is where all the sheep of the district were dipped.  Even at this time of year, there is some gorse in bloom.

Next you will come to Holodyke.  It had an extension added by Samuel Firth, builder, Harray in 1896, so it must have been built before that.  It was used as a summer holiday home by Sir Thomas Clouston, who was the father of J Storer Clouston, Smoogro, the historian and novelist. 

Sir Thomas Clouston was a lecturer in mental diseases at Edinburgh University and wrote many books on his subject.  He pioneered methods of treating mental illness which are still used today.

Follow the road past three houses which have all been restored, and the farm of Northbigging.  Here is another magnificent view over the lochs to the sea.  In the foreground you will see the lochans of Chinyan and Parachin.  Then come the lochs of Bosquoy, Harray and Stenness and finally on a clear day you can just make out the sea and the lighthouse on Graemsay.

Carrying on down, you pass a group of new houses, one of which is the new manse, and join the main Dounby to Kirkwall road.  Turn right to get back to the car park.  There are longer walks that join up at various places along this walk and you can cross the main road and join the old drovers’ road from Merkister to Swartland.  They all make lovely walks, but perhaps they are better left until the summer time when the ground is not so damp and there are many birds and plants to see.


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