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Westray

A northern island of the Orkney Island group, Westray has an area of 4713 ha (11,646 acres) and rises to a height of 169m (554 feet) at Fitty Hill. This hill is one of a modest chain which stretches down the western coast of the island, giving some shelter to the settlements to the east. Known as the 'Queen of the North isles', it has a diverse scenery that includes the Noup Cliffs Nature Reserve. Automated in 1964, the Noup Head Lighthouse was the first to use a system of mercury flotation in the revolving carriage. The chief settlement of Westray is Pierowall which has a ferry link with Papa Westray and a heritage centre with a permanent exhibition on the island's history. The main ferry terminal is at Rapness in the far south and at the northern tip of the island is an airstrip with links to Kirkwall. Buildings of historic interest include St. Mary's Parish Church, the 16th-century Balfour stronghold of Noltland Castle, Cross Kirk and Norse settlement near Tuquoy, and the Knowe o' Burristae Broch. The island's population declined from 2200 in 1881 to 872 (1961), 735 (1971), 701 (1981), 704 (1991), 563 (2001) and 588 (2011), with most of its inhabitants now engaging in farming, fishing and the production of knitwear.


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