The St Magnus Way is a remote coastal trail in the far north of Scotland that takes you to some of the most remote and spectacular spots. The hike reaches along the coastline, passing through ancient forests, beaches, and cliff-top viewpoints. The St Magnus Way is also known as one of the best-hidden secrets of Scotland. You will find this trail on the north tip of the island. It stretches over 25 miles from Main Road just outside Kirkwall to Orkney’s second-largest town, St Mary’s. And yes, it’s even more gorgeous than it sounds. We came across some lovely reviews online about this trail and decided to check it out for ourselves! So let’s get going...
The St. Magnus Way: Overview
The St Magnus Way is one of the most remote trails in Scotland. It takes you to the north tip of the Orkney Islands, following along the coastline, passing through ancient forests, beaches, and cliff-top viewpoints. The trail also goes through a couple of villages, including the beautiful town of Birsay. The St Magnus Way is named after a 10th-century Scottish bishop. He was the Bishop of the Orkney Islands and is buried on the grounds of the ruined Birsay Abbey, which you can visit along the trail. The St Magnus Way is a path that can be walked, cycled, and even driven in a vehicle. That’s because the trail follows along the road for a few sections. You can walk this trail in a day or over several days. The St Magnus Way is a remote trail located in a very remote part of the Scottish Islands. It’s not for everyone, but for adventurous hikers, it’s a trail like no other.
Where to stay along the trail
There are a couple of great places to stay along the trail. We stayed at the Birsay Eco Hostel, which was a fantastic spot to break up our hike with a night’s rest. The hostel was in a beautiful location right along the St Magnus Way, and the building is stunning. St Mary’s Hostel and Hotel is another option, located right in the center of St Mary’s. You can also drive along the trail and park at parking lots along the trail or at the trailhead in Kirkwall. The trail is well marked, so you can use it as a self-guided trail. There are also some great guided walking tours in Orkney that include a section of the St Magnus Way.
- Parking/Trailhead in Kirkwall (End at Birsay): You can start the hike at the trailhead in Kirkwall, by the docks. There is a small parking lot at the trailhead for about 3 cars. As you approach the trail from the trailhead, you will encounter a small parking lot. There are a few signs that point you in the direction of the trail. The trail is wide and graveled for the most part and leads you through the town of Kirkwall before leading you along the shoreline. The trail is mostly flat and easy to moderate, with some slight inclines as you make your way along the trail.
Tips for hiking the St. Magnus Way
- Getting to the Orkney Islands: Although the Orkney Islands are part of Scotland, they are located about 50 miles south of the Scottish mainland. You can reach Orkney by ferry from both Mainland Scotland and the Shetland Islands.
- Weather: The St Magnus Way is an all-weather trail, but the Orkney Islands are known for their unpredictable weather. The trail is usually accessible from late April through October, but keep an eye on the forecast.
- What to bring: The St Magnus Way is a remote trail, so be sure to bring the essentials. For example, it’s good to have a first aid kit, extra food and water, and rain gear.
- Where to stay: There are a couple of great places to stay along the trail. We stayed at the Birsay Eco Hostel, which was a fantastic spot to break up our hike with a night’s rest. - Guided Hikes: There are also some great guided hiking tours in Orkney that include a section of the St Magnus Way.
The St Magnus Way is a trail like no other. It’s a trail that can be done all at once, or broken up into smaller pieces. It’s a trail that can be walked, cycled, and even driven in a vehicle. It’s a trail that takes you through the remote and stunning Orkney Islands in Scotland. The St Magnus Way is a trail that can be enjoyed by hikers of all abilities. It’s a trail that can be done at any time of year, although during the winter months, you will encounter some very challenging conditions. There is so much to see and do along this trail that you could spend weeks hiking and exploring the stunning Orkney Islands.