|Location Map ( geo)|
|Distance:||15 miles (24.1 km)|
|Meets:||A963, B9053, A965|
|Route outline (key)|
The A964 links together the communities towards the southwest of Orkney Mainland, and provides an alternative route towards Stromness from Kirkwall, although the A965 is the more direct and faster route..
Kirkwall - Stenness
The road begins at a junction with the A963 on the southern outskirts of Kirkwall as the Old Scapa Road. The road heads south towards Scapa, where the Old Scapa Road turns off to the left to continue south as the B9053 whilst the A964 bears off to the right. This was originally a right-angle bend, but as with the next two corners has been reprofiled to cut the corner.
The road then heads south west and, as is usual in Orkney, the road passes by numerous houses and small settlements, interspersed with long sections of open fields. The road climbs up to a summit of around 80m and offers good views south across Scapa Flow, famous as a naval refuge of huge importance in both world wars. About 5 miles from Kirkwall, the road drops towards the shore, and crosses the narrow neck of land between Waulkmill Bay and the Loch of Kirbister. This is Kirbister village, such as it is and the Loch offers excellent trout fishing.
Climbing once more, but never so high, the road passes between more fields, dotted with houses to the scattered village of Orphir, home to a Viking era round church (The Bu). Beyond Orphir, the road swings round to the left, whilst the minor road straight ahead to the north of the Hill of Midland is the original route of the A964; it was rerouted via the coast in 1935. Dropping towards the coast, a side road soon turns left and leads to the Houton ferry terminal, where ferries for Lyness (Hoy) and Flotta depart.
The Rugged, hilly island of Hoy is now visible across the channel, and stays in view as the A964 turns northwards, never too far from the coast, and passes through an unchanging landscape of fields dotted with scattered houses and occasional small villages. As Hoy disappears behind, the much lower island of Graemsay can be glimpsed in front of it, but this too disappears as the road continues north following the shore of the Bay of Ireland, albeit up to half a mile inland. Eventually, we reach journeys end at a simple T junction with the A965 at Stenness, with the Loch of Stenness opening out in front of us. Left continues the journey to Stromness, whilst right takes you back to Kirkwall.