Wheems Organic Farm

UK Scotland Scottish Isles Orkney

  • Electrical hook-ups
  • Laundry
  • Campfires allowed
  • Dogs welcome
  • Groups welcome
  • Beaches nearby
  • Good walks nearby
Philosophically spot-on organic eco-camping with a warm welcome

Not for nothing did the poet and novelist George Mackay Brown say that the Orkney imagination was haunted by time. There’s something otherworldly about the Orkney Islands. There’s been a human presence here for thousands of years; the living in places like Skara Brae and the dead in the Neolithic burial chamber of Maes Howe, whose entry shaft is perfectly aligned with the setting sun on the winter solstice.

The land’s been smoothed over by the prevailing winds, and the resulting views are of rolling hills and water, water everywhere between the 70 islands that make up the archipelago. The dun hills are are like the patternless tweed of a geography teacher’s jacket and the sky can do everything from broody to menthol-clear.

Many visitors arrive on the short ferry hop from Gills Bay, between Thurso and John O'Groats on the family-run Pentalina ferry, to the charming little port village of St Margaret's Hope. From here it's a couple of miles over the hill to Wheems Organic Farm. Owned by Mike Roberts, though now largely run by his daughter Islay, the campsite has a simple and fitting ethos; to keep things small, simple and eco friendly but, most of all, to share the beauty of this ethereal setting with all who choose to visit.

For those seeking creature comforts, Mike has constructed four solid wooden bothies, insulated with sheeps’ fleece and with long double-glazed doors that open onto a deck overlooking the bay. Islay, meanwhile, has poured her efforts into two bell tents and a Mongolian-style yurt with beautiful latticework walls, each with a toasty log-burning stove for cooler weather. Between them they bridge the various gaps in the world of camping accommodation, leaving something for every visitor. Campers and caravanners can pitch in the meadows, visitors travelling light can bunk in the wooden bothies, while those pipping for the full comforts of a double bed and furnishings can head straight for the yurt – and the entire site is powered by wind energy. Everyone is welcome.

Facilities-wise, there are toilets, showers and a communal kitchen housed alongside the farm buildings and, if the hens are playing ball, fresh eggs are available along with other homegrown produce (when in season). BBQs and small campfires are permitted, though do check the wind direction for the possibility of spark damage to neighbouring tents. Dogs are welcome as long as they are kept on leads.

On your way back south, try if you can to stop at the small Italian chapel on Lamb Holm, built by and for the POWs while they were here and skilfully preserved. Like most things in the Orkneys, it’s a simple and unassuming place, but beautifully done.

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Details

Facilities

BBQs and small campfires allowed. There are 4 showers and 4 toilets in a wooden building by The Loft, a simple modern rustic style self catering apartment above the barn. The campers' kitchen has 2 small electric cookers and a kettle with lovely wooden surfaces, including tables, chairs and a little lawn with a stone bench, there is also roofed glass 'sit ooterie' to 'sit oot in' built using old conservatory windows. They also have a washing machine, large fridge, freezer and a hairdryer, plus books and games for the kids. Each bothy is provided with bedding, a heater, small kettle, water container, rechargeable lamp and hot water bottles. The yurt is more lavishly furnished, with a custom made wooden floor, beds, bedding, blankets, towels, candles, lamps, a log fire and firewood for your stay. The bell tents are simply furnished also with wooden floors and stoves. Islay can provide yurt dwellers with a camping stove if you would rather this than using the shared kitchen.

Suitable For

Tents, campervans, dogs (on leads), small caravans, big groups, young groups – yes. Large caravans – no.

Nearby

Make a pilgrimage to the tiny chapel, built by Italian POWs held here during the Second World War. They also built the causeways that link South Ronaldsay with the ‘mainland’. The interior of the chapel is just as striking as anything you’d find in Rome. An even shorter walk away, you'll find a pristine sandy beach, which is also the starting point of a fabulous 10-mile circular hike. Alternatively hop in the car and drive 20 minutes to Kirkwall, where you can wander around the labyrinth of stone-paved streets, or visit the gallery and co-operative craft and gift shop, in St Margaret’s Hope (01856 831587).

Food & Drink

Wheems’ own organic fruit, veg and eggs are on sale in their shop. For fresh seafood with a sea view, try Skerries Bistro (01856 831605) on the very southern tip of the island. In St Margaret’s Hope, Robertsons (01856 831889) serves delicious local beers, while those that visit The Italian Chapel (see above) will be a short hop from The Orkney Wine Company (01856 781736), where you can take a tour and sample their entire range of fruit wines and liqueurs (as well as J. Gow Rum from next door).

Opening Times

Wooden bothies and camping pitches are available all year round. Bell tents and yurt May–September.

Why book with I Love This Campsite?

  • Best Price Guarantee, with no fees
  • Instant booking confirmation
  • Trusted for over 10 years
  • A chance to win prizes in our regular competitions

The Owner Says

Wheems Organic Farm is an ecological and organic 6 hectare horticulture and animal smallholding, producing organic food for a local market. Wheems farm buildings are 200 years old and have been renovated using local, traditional and sustainable materials. Wheems farmland has been sensitively landscaped with areas set aside for conservation, areas carved out with stone dyke walling, and areas of tree planting.

Accommodation

20 pitches, some with hook-ups, pus four wooden camping bothies, a furnished yurt and two bell tents.

Grass pitch

Grass pitch Sleeps 6 10 Available
The campsite looks south and east towards the sea; beaches and cliffs can be reached on foot in 5 minutes and by car in 2 minutes. The camping fields are sculpted into level terraces and planted with shrubs.

Campervan Pitch

Grass pitch with electricity Sleeps 4 6 Available
Under 6m Hard Standings with or without electric. The campsite at Wheems looks south towards the sea; beaches and cliffs can be reached on foot in 5 minutes. The campsite is on an organic farm and camp area is planted with shrubs.

Arctic Tern

Pod Sleeps 3 4 Available
The pods can sleep up to 4 people and are designed and built on the farm. Futons for double or single bed options. Looking out to sea through fully glazed double doors with outdoor deck. Provided with bedding (optional), a heater, water container, rechargeable lamp and hot water bottles etc.

Buttercup Bell Tent

Bell tent Sleeps 3 2 Available
The Wheems Bell Tents are 4m (13.1ft) diameter; they have a wood stove and firewood, a small coffee table, 1 double futon and 1 single futon, bedding and towels available by request, lamps, no electricity. The Campsite at Wheems looks south and east towards the sea; beaches and cliffs can be reached on foot in 5 minutes and by car in 2 minutes.

Yurt

Yurt or Ger Sleeps 4
The Wheems Kyrgyzstani style yurt is a 4.27m (14ft) diameter yurt with a custom made wooden floor and double bed. looking south and east towards the sea; beaches and cliffs can be reached on foot in 5 minutes and by car in 2 minutes. The camping fields are sculpted into level terraces and planted with shrubs.

Motorhome/Caravan Pitch

Grass pitch with electricity Sleeps 6 6 Available
Over 6m Hard Standings with or without electric. The campsite at Wheems looks south towards the sea; beaches and cliffs can be reached on foot in 5 minutes. The campsite is on an organic farm and camp area is planted with shrubs.

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Location

Contact Wheems Organic Farm, Wheems, Eastside, South Ronaldsay, Orkney KW17 2TJ

Show Map

Getting There

The easiest route from the mainland is the passenger ferry from John o’Groats to Burwick or the car ferry from Gills Bay, to St Margaret’s Hope. Follow the road from the Gills Ferry up through the village to the top of the hill and the main road to Kirkwall. Turn right then left (at the soldier’s statue). Follow this road for a mile or so until the crossroads (where there’s a postbox). Go straight over and the farm is down the hill on the left.

There’s a reasonably frequent bus service in the summer months from Kirkwall to St Margaret’s Hope (plus there’s the ferry) but then it’s a 2-mile walk from the village.

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Why book with I Love This Campsite?

  • Best Price Guarantee, with no fees
  • Instant booking confirmation
  • Trusted for over 10 years
  • A chance to win prizes in our regular competitions

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