Conservation through Restoration
The North Ronaldsay Sheep Festival is a volunteer-led event that takes place on the Island of North Ronaldsay in Orkney, Scotland, with the aim of re-building the island's historic drystone Sheep Dyke, protecting its flock of native seaweed-eating sheep, and celebrating the island's distinct culture and tradition through music, art and education.
The festival consists of one week of drystone dyke building, workshops and activities.
Spectacular North Ronaldsay skies showcased during North Isles Landscape Partnership Scheme event
5th July 2023
North Ronaldsay put on a breath-taking sunset display recently, during a special guided walk showcasing the island’s Dark Skies status.
On the enchanting and still evening of Saturday 24 June, a group of 17 people assembled at the North Ronaldsay Stan Stane to witness the 10:30pm sunset. The event, organised and led by Henry Memmott, a science teacher at Kirkwall Grammar School and long time fan of North Ronaldsay, proved to be an extraordinary experience for all attendees – as this photo attests!
The Stan Stane, an ancient stone with a hole carved into it, was the perfect place to experience this magical event. The awe-inspiring natural beauty of the island’s skies was captured by Alison Duncan of the North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory.
Following this remarkable moment and a talk by Henry about the Stan Stane, a spirited group of 12 individuals embarked on a memorable three-mile trek to the lighthouse, the distance made short by lively conversations.
Henry said: “The weather was perfect for what turned out to be an amazing experience. It was a joy to be out enjoying the light of the long evening, and the view of the lighthouse flashing in front of an orange sky was incredible. It was so good that I hope that this is something we can repeat again next year!”
The event was part of a series of nine ‘Walks and Talks’ taking place over the year on North Ronaldsay celebrating the island’s Dark Skies Status, supported by the North Isles Landscape Partnership Scheme (NILPS) and Orkney Islands Council’s Culture Fund.
North Isles Landscape Partnership Scheme (NILPS) is a £4.5m programme funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic Environment Scotland, Orkney Islands Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, NatureScot and the Orkney LEADER 2014-2020. It supports projects that promote the culture, heritage and landscape of the North Isles and will run until December 2024. Find out more about NILPS on the programme website.
On-island Meat Larder gets greenlight for North Ronaldsay
15th October 2021
The North Ronaldsay Trust is pleased to announce that we have been awarded with £102,831.41 from the Island Communities Fund towards the creation and building of a Meat Larder on North Ronaldsay. The Island Communities Fund is sourced by the Scottish Government, and is aimed at projects focused on supporting sustainable island economies, as well as their journey towards net zero.
The Meat Larder will consist of a modular unit which will be located at Trebb, and will include all necessary equipment to butcher and vacuum-pack North Ronaldsay mutton on-site (slaughtering will continue to be done off-island). The building will be powered by renewable energy (from a community-owned wind turbine) and a storage battery will be installed as a backup to keep meat products refrigerated or frozen, in case of power cuts or no wind.
The Meat Larder will allow the island to process the sheep at source (this is currently done elsewhere) and sell high-end quality meat cuts directly. The project will create jobs on the island and increase the value, as well as the status, of the much sought-after native North Ronaldsay mutton. As well as contributing towards the economic development of the island and the future survival of our unique breed of sheep, the project has a heavy environmental benefit - sustainably sourced meat will be easily available for both islanders and visitors, and encourage a more local consumption of meat products, all of it done using renewable energy sources.
The delivery of the Meat Larder project will be carried out by the North Ronaldsay Trust throughout the Winter of 2021-22. You will be able to follow progress of the project via the NRT website and Facebook page.
The North Ronaldsay Trust offers a big thank you to the Scottish Government and the Island Communities Fund for supporting the project.
North Ronaldsay designated as an International Dark Skies Community
Fantastic news today 3rd September 2021. Ashley Wilson of the International Dark Skies Association announced live during a live presentation at the Orkney International Science Festival that after 10 years of various community meetings, surveys, and applications that the island has been designated as an International Dark-Skies Community
Further details of appreciation to follow
Advanced Nurse Practitioner Position Available for North Ronaldsay
NHS Orkney are looking to recruit an Advanced Nurse Practitioner for the island of North Ronaldsay.
The ideal opportunity to consider moving and practising within a wonderful commuity on a beautiful Island . No more 10 min apointments, deliver the holsitic care you always wanted to deliver
Enjoy living on an island with beautiful views, culture, and heritage
A brochure has been produced by the Island to outline details of the island community and the Advnced Nurse Practitioner position. Within the brochure there is numerous links to community groups, schools, travel links as well as links to video clips from a previous Advanced Nurse Practitioner as well as other island groups
Following link is a video clip promoting NHS Orkney, its operation, and the benefits to its patients and employees
The Lighthouse Visitor Centre and Lighthouse Cafe have now reopened. Now operated by Louise and Niel Patterson. Louise and Neil operated a bakery in Mull prior to arriving on North Ronaldsay, although Louise is also a proffessional chef having worked in many estates throughout Scotland. Together they have spent the last few months getting the Cafe and Visitor Centre ready to open.
The Lighthouse Cafe will be baking fresh bread to go with their menu which includes Orkney Seafood, North Ronaldsay Mutton, and much more.
Within the Visitor Centre there are two interpretation displays of both ' Traditional Island Life' and 'Lighthouses' as well as a gift shp supplying local arts and crafts and island gifts .
Bike Hire can also be booked through the Visitor Centre
Opening times Tuesday to Sunday 1130 to 1630,
For Further information contact
Tel: 01857.633297 or mobile 07778182844
North Ronaldsay Sheep Festival
Online 26th July to 6th August 2021
A festival fortnight celebrating the native sheep, sheepdyke and island culture of North Ronaldsay
Due to covid-19 our festival fortnight will take place online for the first year ever!
Bringing a taste of SheepFest to the comfort of your home, we are busy designing a virtual program of short films, talks and interviews, interactive workshops, zoom meet-ups and of course our traditional end-of-festival Quiz!
We can't wait to share it with you!
New Community Development Manager
The North Ronaldsay Trust (NRT) has appointed a new
Community Development Manager (CDM), Sara Macías Rodríguez
Sara has lived for over a year on the island, and it well known throughout the community. She arrived together with her partner Rael just before the lockdown in March 2020 to work as a volunteer and part time worker at the North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory. However both Sara and Rael have worked at the Bird Observatory in the past on her first visit in 2014 spending both summer and autumn on the island.
In between these dates Sara had been worked for different conservation charities including the RSPB, The NationalTrust, and Spurn Bird Observatory before jining the Anima and Plant Health Agency in 2019
Sara says, "Living on North Ronaldsay for the past year has been surreal in the best possible way, being able to enjoy the outdoors when the weather was nice, getting to know the islanders better while working at the Bird Observatory shop and enjoying the company of a cosy stove when the weather was not so kind - what else could anyone ask for?
Now I am really excited about starting my role as Community Development Manager, working with the North Ronaldsay Trust, and contributing towards the development and prosperity of the island. I look forward to speaking to you all at some point, hopefully soon and over a coffee rather than a phone call, and with social distancing a thing of the past.
I hope I can serve North Ronaldsay as well as my predecessor, Helga Scott, and give back in the same kind way I was welcomed to this community.
North Ronaldsay Community School
The Community school has welcomed three new pupils who started in March 2021. With the Helga Scott becoming apointed as school teacher, a role which she has held previously, and which in between Helga also was working as the Community Development Manager for the Island.
The school is considered a satellite of Burray Primary School with the Head Teacher being Mr Steve Arnold. Following travel restrictions then there will be travel both ways to enjoy concerts, sport, and cultural visits.
North Ronaldsay Science Festival
The second North Ronaldsay Science Week Festival was held at the beginning of March. This year though, it was an online festival with seventeen videos made especially for our festival by people in North Ronaldsay, Orkney, mainland Scotland, Denmark, Iceland and the USA. The topics, all based around the theme of “innovation”, range from the use of seaweed on North Ronaldsay to Malagan figures brought to Orkney in the 1920s by a North Ronaldsay man, John Muir.
Many thanks to our funders British Science Week. All videos from the NR Science Week team are available from the youTube channel link below
North Ronaldsay resident Heather Woodbridge has been elected unanimously on the 2nd October to represent the Northern Isles within the Orkney Island council.
Heather is the third councillor, (Graham Sinclair, and Stephen Clackson being the other two councillors), representing the Northern Isles of Orkney but at 26 years is the youngest councillor in Orkney Islands History.
The recent election for the third councillor was due to the sad passing of Councillor Dr Kevin Woodbridge, Heathers father. Whilst having her own priorities Heather has commented that she is looking to continue her fathers good work and shared priorities for the Northern Isles.
From the ancient seaweed eating sheep that graze around the foreshore managed by the ancient sheep court, to the lighthouses that stand proud at the north guiding the shipping with the tallest land based lighthouse in the UK.
North Ronaldsay has a unique and world-recognised heritage for visitors to explore .
The stunningly beautiful sandy shores to the south and east, dramatic rugged coastline to the north and west, and the peaceful centre area are all wonderful to explore taking in the beautiful scenery, and wildlife.
North Ronaldsay is where old traditions and customs are still a rich part of island life but this innovative island also embraces the 21st century. Have a quick look Visit North Ronaldsay
A wide variety of activities from Friday Pm through to Sunday PM with a great variety of venue both inside and out.
Presentations on Astronomy, Planets, Sheep & Tides, Photography, Space Flight, together with information from current Dark Skies locations and from Dark Skies lighting engineer James Patterson.
Extra planes provided the necessary capacity to fill all event and enabled a very full weekend of information, as well as beautiful food provided by numerous islanders
Funding support was provided from NILPS (North Isles Landscape Partnership), CelebrateNationallottery25, British Science Week, and the North Ronaldsay Astronomy Group.
The North Ronaldsay Trust held an Island Conference to coincide with the opening of the newly renovated school house and the start of the advertising of the new available position of a 'Sheep Dyke Warden'.
The conference was held in the community hall to a packed audience of both residents and invited guests from various organisations, outside bodies and organisations who have supported the Island or have the ability to support the island.
The hall was decorated with photographs from the archives, products from the local wool mill, crafts from Helen Galland, alias Woolly Wally, both felted and woven products using North Ronaldsay felt and yarn. North Ronaldsay Chocolates displayed their products as well as a large sample of products for tasting. There were other displays covering Dark Skies, including the islands astronomical telescope and displays from the North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory including a display of the ornithological nets that are produced on the island and used to catch and ring birds.
The conference started with an safety briefs by Alex Wright, a new director to the Trust. This followed with Lilly Gray, Teigan Scott, Chloe Wood and Zander Scott reading a poem 'A song of North Ronaldsay' by Willy Swanney, 'Viggie'. This was followed by a welcome by Caroline Tindall, North Ronaldsay Laird, and an overview of the conference by John Scott, Chairperson of the Trust. The first section of the conference was about protecting and promoting what makes our island unique. This started with an overview by Trust director Mark Holbrook and followed with presentations from Trust Director Alison Duncan on our current Dark Skies status, Lee Inkster and Cheryl Chapman from Visit Scotland and Elaine Tulloch from Destination Orkney on promoting North Ronaldsay, Wendy Barrie, Director of Scottish Food Guide, Food Writer and Chef on North Ronaldsay Mutton & the Slow Food Presidium, Edgar Balfour, Orkney Food and Drink on promoting North Ronaldsay products, Councillor Kevin Woodbridge North Ronaldsay Sheep Court, and Robert Brewis, Orkney Sheep Foundation. Edgar Balfour, Orkney Food and Drink on promoting North Ronaldsay products, Councillor Kevin Woodbridge as secretary of the North Ronaldsay Sheep Court, and Robert Brewis from the Orkney Sheep Foundation talked about the North Ronaldsay Sheep and the Island Sheep Festival.
The second part of the conference was focused on Housing and Jobs. The overview was given by Trust Director Michael Scott followed by presentations by Mairi Ross Grey from the Scottish Government on the Rural and Island Housing Fund, Gavin Barr and Luke Fraser of Orkney Islands Council, and Francesca Couperwhite, Highlands and Islands.
Enterprise on North Ronaldsay Housing and Jobs. Trust Director Peter Donnelly talked about the history of the wool Mill and it being a crucial part to creating a commercial hub on the island. Andrew Golightly from the North Islands Landscape Partnership Scheme announced the opening of the 'Sheep Dyke Warden' post together with a short presentation film that had been created by Orkney.com. Cameron Anson from Our Island Home/Rural Housing Scotland talked about Our Island Home & Rural Together in particular the impact of modular housing.
The Conference was concluded by Trust Chairman John Scott by calling on past Chairperson, Billy Muir MBE, Peter Donnelly, Mark Holbrook, and previous director Sinclair Scott of the North Ronaldsay Trust to step up for a presentation of a bottle of Scapa whisky for all their hard work as directors of the Trust.
The audience was then invited to step outside to witness the cutting of the ribbon to the newly renovated property formerly the School House.
Following the ribbon cutting, it was possible to view the renovated property as well as enjoy a beautiful buffet and refreshments, supplied by the North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory and the Lighthouse Cafe. An abundance of North Ronaldsay Mutton sandwiches, sausages, pies, and stewed mutton was available.
Special thanks to Loganair for arranging all the additional transport so efficiently, Ian Scott, Antabreck for the Archive display and general hall decoration and Dave Stewart and Bob Christie of db Projects for their assistance and support throughout this project.
The North Ronaldsay Trust secured the old school house which was used in the past by head teachers for the local primary school. The school house had been empty for approximately 5 years, although the school ran out of pupils only two years ago. The change of use does not affect the ability to re-open the primary school in the future.
The Trust contacted Orkney Islands Council regarding obtaining the leasehold on the School House. This was at the same time that the Scottish Government was offering financial support for renovating properties in rural areas. There was also support from the Prince's Countryside Fund as well as some funding from the Trust.
The Trust used the services of Billy Groundwater of Orkney Surveying Services to create the renovation specification, tender document, and completion support. The tender process was secured by Firefly Energi Orkney. Norman Walsh, the owner of Firefly Energi, oversaw the overall design changes. The outcome of the design change are shown with the picture within this article and show the stunning design and views the house offers.
Following the Island Conference on Monday 17th June the house was officially opened at the Island Conference with words from Norman Walsh, Owner of Firefly Energi Orkney, with the ribbon cutting by Liam Macarthur MSP.
The house sits on one of the highest points on North Ronaldsay with stunning views across the neighbouring Northern Isles of Orkney, Sanday, Eday, Westray, and Papa Westray, as well as Fair Isle to the north.
The island is basically free of pollution from vehicles, noise and light. It has beautiful sandy beaches to the east and south, with a rugged coastline on the north and west. There is so much more within this website as well as online.
The insulation of the three bed roomed property is more than double the current building standard recommendations, all external doors and windows are triple glazed. The house is fitted with air to water heating system which converts 1Kw of power to 4KW of heat. Shortly the house will also be installed with a 10MB free digital connection
Interested in moving to North Ronaldsay, send you enquiries to
Many thanks to the support from Scottish Government - Rural Housing Fund, Orkney Islands Council, Princes Countryside Fund, db Projects, and Liam Macarthur MSP for ribbon cutting duties.
North Ronaldsay is the northern most of the Orkney Islands. It is an island with a rich natural and built heritage, an important part of the later is the unique thirteen mile sheep dyke which surrounds the island ensuring the native sheep remain on the foreshore.
Storms and tides have destroyed much of the dyke and there is an urgent need to carry out rebuilding and repairs. The dyke is integral to the management of the native sheep and the role shall require close liaison with the sheep owners and the 'sheep court' aligned to seasonal requirements with the communally managed flock.
It's easy to see the islands ancient breed of famous seaweed-eating sheep, as now nearly all have returned to the foreshore following the ewes lambing and the sheep being clipped of their fleeces.
Their fleeces will be dried and then traded through the local Wool Mill where the fleeces will be spun into yarn which is sold to many destinations around the world.
A recent survey reveals that Orkney in the best place to live in the UK. Please see the link below that will take you to the article:
North Ronaldsay Trust have currently recruited a Sheep Dyke Worker, and is currently looking into recruiting a Ranger. The Trust has refurbished a three bedroom house which has recently been rented and is looking to be in a position to have further properties available in the future. Keep watching for further details to be announced
Monday July 27th to Friday August 7th 2020
The Sheep Festival Committee have unfortunately had to cancel this years festival due to the Coronavirus. Please keep in touch with the festivals website and facebook pages for more information regarding future events.
A whirlwind fortnight of activities centred around the rebuilding of the islands Sheep Dyke has come to an end. 43 volunteers from Orkney, Scotland, England, Canada, and Hong Kong came to the Island and built 250 paces of dyke, equating to the movement of 250 tonnes of stone. When away from the wall there was a pleather of activities from evening talks on North Ronaldsay Sheep management, tannery, music and film evenings. there were organised tours of the island Wool Mill and Lighthouse, dances, bake off competitions, BBQ, plays, quiz, and an international football match, residents against visitors, which was won by the visitors.
More information contact: https://www.nrsheepfestival.co...
Through successful funding applications from Cycle Scotland The North Ronaldsay Trust secured funding for 8 new Orbea bikes as well as funding to train two people, Alex Wright, and Louis Craigie, in bike maintainence.
The bikes and training were supplied from Orkney Cycle during February and March, The final training being delivered on the island assembling and setting up the new hire bikes.
To book a bike to rent or to arrange maintenance please email firstname.lastname@example.org or text 07809770082.
Community Development Manager
In March 2018, The North Ronaldsay Trust was successful in securing a grant from the Orkney Leader Programme which funded salary and related costs for the Community Development Manager role.
The project was successfully completed in August 2020.
Recruitment of the CDM enabled significant activity and progress on activity such as:
1. Acquisition of the former schoolhouse, to increase housing capacity
2. Investigating housing need
3. Island Conference, an event highlighting plans for the future and including:
4. Supporting the community during covid
5. Raising funds for a range of projects, electric bikes, bike shed etc
6. Commercial premises – research an innovative NEST unit complex to provide a fit for purpose building for the wool processing business and potential space for other small businesses, the North Ronaldsay Trust has since acquired premises at Trebb.
7. Securing funding to continue employing a Community Development Manager
LEADER (Liaison Entre Actions de Developement de l’Economie Rurale – links between actions for the development of the rural economy) formed part of the Scotland Rural Development Programme, which funded economic, environmental and social measures for the benefit of rural Scotland.
LEADER is a bottom-up method of delivering support for rural development, aimed at increasing the capacity of the local rural community and business networks by building knowledge and skills, encouraging innovation and cooperation, and attempting to achieve local development objectives.
Funded by the European Union and Scottish Government, the 2014 – 2020 LEADER Programme was delivered in Scotland by 21 Local Action Groups (LAGs) implementing Local Development Strategies for their area.
Agriculture and rural development (europa.eu)