|To:||Birsay Bay (HY247276)|
|Distance:||17.4 miles (28 km)|
|Meets:||A965, B9057, A967, unclassified|
|Route outline (key)|
The A966 forms the northern coast road on Orkney Mainland, and whilst the A986 route is perhaps quicker end to end, the A966 serves a number of villages and communities along the coast.
The road starts at a T-junction with the A965 in the village of Finstown. We then head north over a small causeway and through several small settlements, including Norseman Village with its short 40 limit - you can see from one end to the other along the straight road! This straight is nearly three miles long, before a slight kink eastwards. We next pass through Rendall, not so much a village as a scattered group of houses and soon after, a road branches off on the right towards the Tingwall ferry terminal, which runs ferries to Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre.
Turning westwards, we now pass through some of the hillier areas of the Mainland, as we approach the parish of Evie (home of Burgar Hill and some of Orkney's first wind turbines). From Evie, there are fine views across the Eynhallow Sound to Rousay, and out to the other North Isles. On the shore, and accessed via a small side road, is the Broch of Gurness, one of the better preserved brochs in Scotland. Also in the village, a left turn is the B9057, crossing over the hills, past a Norse Click Mill to Dounby, an important crossroads in the North west of the Orkney Mainland.
After Evie, we hug the north side of the Loch of Swannay and then start heading southwest again, before a sharp right turn turns the road westwards once more. A couple of miles later, the A966 passes the junction with the A967 and TOTSOs left about half a mile further on, by the dramatic roadside ruins of the Earl's Palace at Birsay Bay. The unclassified road ahead leads to the Brough of Birsay, a viking settlement on a tidal island at the north western tip of the Orkney Mainland. Back to the A966, and comes to an end by the village shop and church (on the site of a Cathedral). The unclassified road ahead soon peters out into a track which leads to the B9056.