A visit to Orkney just isn’t complete without a trip along the Churchill Barriers in the south of Mainland Orkney. One look at the stunning beaches adjacent to the causeways will have many a paddle boarding enthusiast dusting off their boards to explore the calm waters the Churchill Barriers have to offer.
The Churchill Barriers are a collection of causeways linking the islands of Lamb Holm, Glimps Holm and South Ronaldsay to Orkney’s Mainland. They were built in the 1940’s to protect the natural harbor of Scapa Flow from invading vessels. As you drive over the barriers you can see scuttled ships jutting out of the water at odd angles reflecting their dramatic demise. These shipwrecks were used previously to block the entrance to the bay before the building of the barriers.
These ghostly sihouettes make for an interesting paddle session for the curious and yet wary paddler. I say wary because of course we are dealing with rusted metal and inflatable craft.
The Main Points
- Location – Churchill Barriers, Glimps Holm, Orkney
- Cost – Free access from carpark
- Conditions – Salt water bay
- Other users – Tourists
- Entry Point – Sandy beach
- Surrounding amenities/Bathrooms- Village of St Mary’s 3.9km north, Burray Village 3.4km south
What to expect Paddle Boarding the Churchill Barriers in Orkney
As previously mentioned we are dealing with old rusty metal partially submerged in sea water. This is not something I recommend to people and you must assess your own abilities prior to entering the water. Hazzards you need to think about are ensuring that you stay a safe distance from the wrecks. Being vigilant when checking for submerged parts of the wreck. Being mindful about sharp edges which could puncture your board and the dangers around falling onto any metal either above the water level or submerged.
On the plus side the water is incredibly clear making it easier to observe submerged hazards.
Watch our Video of Paddle Boarding at the Churchill Barriers in Orkney
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If you haven’t yet watched part one of our SUP Safari Scotland Travel Video Series check it out here.