The parish of Orphir overlooks Scapa Flow and the south isles. Waulkmill Bay is a sheltered shallow inlet with a large sandy beach which is exposed at low tide. Nearby is the RSPB reserve of Hobbister, and some pleasant walking country.
Orphir Church is the remains of Scotland's only surviving circular medieval church. About two thirds of the original stone was taken to build the later parish church which, until taken down, partly overlaid the remains. The church consisted of a nave about 6 metres in internal diameter, enclosed by a wall 1 metre thick, and an apse about 2 metres long and wide off the eastern side. The church was built in the early 12th century and was dedicated to St Nicholas. Close by are the remains of a Norse farm with a hall and watermill. This is also likely to be the site of the Earl's Bu, or drinking hall, mentioned in the Orkneyinga saga.
Orphir Round Church and Bu
(C) Richard Welsby
The ferry terminal at Houton Bay is the departure point for the ferry to Flotta and Hoy. Vehicle crossing must be booked in advance.