RSPB Scotland Birsay Moors offers a wild and windswept landscape to completely immerse yourself in. You can see some of Orkney’s most iconic bird species from the comfort of the hide or from the Birsay Moors viewpoint, with the possibility of spotting hen harriers, short-eared owls, great and Arctic skuas and red throated divers in spring and summer. Listen out for the eerie call of the red-throated divers from the hide as they pair up in spring. Autumn evenings, as the colour of the rolling heathery hills subtly changes and as the light fades, are a great time to look for short-eared owls perched on fence posts at the side of the road or hen harriers heading off to their communal roosts.
Getting hereFor further information on accessible travel in Scotland, go to Transport Scotland.
Travel by public transport
For the Birsay Moors Hide and Birsay Moors Viewpoint, the bus service which operates to Evie is the Stagecoach 6, Kirkwall to Tingwall Ferry (Evie) route. For the Birsay Moors Hide, alight in Evie at the brown tourist sign for RSPB Birsay Moors Hide and then follow the signposted route up to the hide on Burgar Hill. This route is initially along a single track road and then on a sloping track surfaced with compacted large gravel.
The same bus service is used to access the Birsay Moors Viewpoint. Alight in Evie at the junction with the Hillside Road and follow the single track B9057 road westwards signposted for Dounby until you reach a layby on the right after 1.3 miles.
For the Durkadale Trail, the bus services which operate to Twatt crossroads are the Stagecoach 7 and 8S routes, which both stop at the junction. From this point it is a 1.3 mile walk along single track roads to the Durkadale pull-in. There are no signposts to the reserve - follow the minor road east from the A986 which leads to Kirbuster and turn off right on the road which passes the Loch of Hundland. The interpretation panel in the pull-in gives directions for the trail.
Up to date travel information can be found at https://www.orkney.gov.uk/Service-Directory/B/Bus-Services.htm
Travel by taxi
The Birsay Moors Hide has a general parking area nearby and the hide is accessed either by crossing a short grassy area or along a gravelly track. There is designated accessible parking directly outside the hide, and this area can also be used as a drop-off point.
The Birsay Moors Viewpoint has a parking area close to a picnic bench and interpretation. The interpretation is only accessible by ascending rough stone steps which have no hand rail. The bench is accessed from the tarmac parking area up a slight rough slope onto a loose gravelly area.
The Durkadale pull-in is directly alongside the interpretation for this area. The parking area is tarmac, and you can park alongside the interpretation and view across Loch of Hundland.
Path to main entrance
Please note that there is no Visitor Centre on the reserve. The only facilities are a birdwatching hide and the viewpoints/pull-ins, and there are no staff based at the reserve.
Getting around inside
Getting around outside
The route is a linear trail and the distance refers to the return journey from the roadside pull-in. The main part of the Durkadale Trail is along a rough vehicle track. The surface of the trail is uneven, with potholes and loose stones, and it can be wet. The far end of the trail is grassy and can be very wet and muddy in winter.
Birsay Moors Hide
The hide has a firm even path which leads up to it with no handrails. It is approximately 10m from the designated accessible parking area to the hide door. There is lots of space inside the hide and the small benches provided are moveable to allow access to the windows. The door entrance is 80cm wide and the ramp is 90 cm wide. There are no specific wheelchair bays or lowered windows.
The Birsay Moors Viewpoint
You can access the tarmac area directly from the vehicle and there are great views from the pull-in. The interpretation panel has three large and one small rough stone steps leading up to it, and there is no handrail. The picnic bench in this area is accessible from the tarmac car parking area over a small grass slope.
The pull-in is adjacent to the interpretation and provides great views over Loch of Hundland.