The Loons and Loch of Banks nature reserve is a wonderful watery landscape where the sounds of breeding birds fill the air. It is the largest remaining wetland in Orkney and the perfect place to see waders and wildfowl, including wigeons, curlews, pintails, lapwing, and Greenland white-fronted geese. Visit The Loons Listening Wall (inspired by the wartime concrete listening walls on the south coast of England) in spring and immerse yourself in the spectacular natural symphony of sound created by the inhabitants of the thriving wetland in front of you, whilst the Loons Hide is the perfect place to watch wildfowl and hunting hen harriers in the winter.
Getting hereFor further information on accessible travel in Scotland, go to Transport Scotland.
Travel by public transport
For the Loons Hide and Listening Wall, the bus service is the Stagecoach 8S Kirkwall to Skarabrae service. Ask the driver to drop you off at the end of the Loons Road near Marwick and follow the brown tourist sign along the single track road towards Twatt to reach the Loons Hide. From here it is a further 0.4 mile walk east along the same road to the Loons Listening Wall.
There are two bus services that pass by the Loch of Banks, the 8S as described above and the Stagecoach 7 Kirkwall - Dounby - Stromness service. Alight at Twatt crossroads and the reserve is the wetland area directly to the south, viewable from the A986 and A967 roads which form its boundaries. Please beware of fast traffic if viewing the reserve from the roadside, using the verges rather than the road.
Up to date travel information can be found at https://www.orkney.gov.uk/Service-Directory/B/Bus-Services.htm
Travel by taxi
The Loons Hide has a tarmac parking area directly outside the entrance to the hide.
The Listening Wall has a tarmac parking area directly behind the wall. There are good views of The Loons wetlands from the parking area.
The Loch of Banks has no parking or facilities. The best way to see the reserve is from a vehicle on the road. Please pull off the road safely if you are stopping to view the reserve.
Path to main entrance
Please note that there is no Visitor Centre on the reserve. The only facilities are a birdwatching hide and the Listening Wall, and there are no staff based at the reserve.
Getting around inside
Getting around outside
The Loons Listening Wall is accessed by a short fine gravel path. The surface of the Listening Wall is made up of fine gravel and there are inset stones which are raised slightly from the ground. There are two low stone benches which allow you to take in the fantastic sights and sounds of the Loons reserve. The path is gently sloping and there are some tight turns.
The Loons Hide
Access to the Loons Hide consists of a short gravel path from the car parking area leading to a wooden boardwalk ramp to the door of the hide. The ramp is is covered in chickenwire and has wooden handrails. Inside the hide, directly opposite the door, the first wooden bench can swing out to accommodate a wheelchair. The window in this section is 1m from the ground.