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Location Map ( geo)
Cameraicon.png View gallery (2)
From:  Osmondwall (ND331894)
To:  Bu (HY235047)
Distance:  20.3 miles (32.7 km)
Meets:  Unclassified, B9048, B9049, B9049, Unclassified
Highway Authorities

Orkney Islands

Traditional Counties


Route outline (key)
B9047 Osmondwall - Bu

The B9047 is the main road on the island of Hoy in the Orkneys.

The B9047 passing the Royal Hotel in Longhope

The route starts at Osmondwall, technically on the island of South Walls, by turning off an unclassified road from the coast at Kirk Hope near a cemetery. The minor road heads west and provides a shorter route across the island than that offered by the coastal B9047. The route heads north in a series of straights, crossing fields and passing the scattered community of Hackness, home to the famous Hackness Martello Tower, before reaching the coast itself at Myre Bay. Here it bends to the left and follows the shore relatively closely through Wyng to reach Longhope, the main settlement on South Walls. This stretch of the coast is quite built up, with a steady line of shoreside properties along the roadside. A road leads off to the right from where a ferry can be got to Hoy or Flotta, and ultimately Orkney Mainland. The Longhope Lifeboat is also stationed here.

From Longhope, the B9047 turns southwestwards, still following the coast to reach The Ayre, a sandy causeway leading to Hoy proper. Just before the causeway there is a triangular junction where the unclassified road, of similar quality to the B9047 on South Walls, follows the shorter, straighter and less built-up route across the island back to where the B9047 started. The first thing to be met on Hoy is a road junction, serving the small Brims headland. The B9047 forks right and continues west along the coast as it runs around the head of the North Bay, before turning north through Saltness and eventually reaching North Ness, just over the water from Longhope, although it is over five miles by road. The B9047 bends sharply left here to cross the Little Ayre, another causeway, this time curving around the back of a sandy beach with salt marsh behind.

Burnmouth north of Lyness

The route soon turns inland to pass to the west of Crock Ness, climbing up to a summit of 31m before dropping back to the coast. The village of Lyness is soon reached and the B9048 turns off to the right to the pier. The B9047 continues north before bending left then right to pass round Mill Bay. So far, the roadside has had a steady string of properties along it, sometimes side by side, sometimes with a field or two between, but most houses could see their neighbours to either side. However, beyond Lyness Hoy becomes much more sparsely populated, the road dropping to single track as a result. A long undulating straight climbs up to the farm at Muckle Rysa, where the road turns sharp left. This is the last house for seven miles, although there are a handful of properties hidden away down side roads, and several more visible ruins.

From the farm, the road heads north west across the steeper slopes above Rysa Sound. It the heads slightly inland to cross the Pegal Burn, before contouring round Pegal Hill, reaching the 50m contour. A long straight descent takes it down to cross the Lyrawa Burn at the head of Lyrawa Bay, before a steeper climb into the shallow pass behind Lyrawa Hill. This is a stunning viewpoint, with old military installations, presumably constructed for that very purpose. The summit of the route is 107m, on the shores of the Water of Hoy and while Lyrawa Hill is only 120m, behind the loch the hills rise up to the second highest point in the whole Orkney Archipelago at 399m. The descent is much more gentle, the road running roughly parallel to the coast for much of it, with fine views across the scattered islands to Mainland beyond.

After passing the turning for the small coastal settlement of Quoyness, the B9049 forks off to the right, offering a short cut to the end of the B9047. The B9047 forks left, climbing again across the lower slopes of Ward Hill, Orkney's highest hill at 481m, passing through the scattered Hoy village to reach a T-junction, where it TOTSOs right. A long straight then drops it down towards the coast once more. The other end of the B9049 is quickly passed, after which the B9047 TOTSOs left. The road ahead leads to the pier, from where ferries can be got to Graemsay and Mainland. The final stretch of the B9047 heads north alongside the Bay of Creekland. As it continues it becomes more of a track and less of a road. After passing a hillside cemetery the road reaches the farm of Bu, where it ends without ceremony.


The B9047 variation near the Pegal Burn

At first glance, the B9047 has changed very little since it was first classified in 1922. However, careful analysis of the MOT Map, in conjunction with the OS Six Inch Maps and modern mapping and aerial photography shows up some anomalies between Muckle Rysa and Quoyness. In the first instance, these could be dismissed as poor quality mapping, but it seems that the MOT map does actually show the route of the original track across Hoy. It is more than likely, however, that by 1922 when the route was classified, the line shown on the MOT map (which used a much older base map) had already been replaced by the current road. Indeed, when you look at the MOT map, this is in evidence in the first section north of Muckle Rysa, where the green line follows a track to the farm, and is then drawn across the landscape, crossing a marked path, to cross the Pegal Burn before picking up the path for the rest of the route. This suggests that they knew the new road followed a different route to the path at this point, but were less certain of the routing beyond.

The principal variations are in two places. Firstly, the climb up to the summit and Water of Hoy is shown as being more direct, and a line can still be traced across the peat on the southern approach which meets the track to the summit of Lyrawa Hill. The new roadline significantly eases the gradient by kinking left then right to reach the summit. The descent from the summit deviates a little from the current line, but this could be poor mapping at the scale used. However, where the route now curves out towards the coast at Green Noses, the MOT map suggests the road previously stayed back from the shore, and a rough hill track does survive on this line, forking off the current B9047 where it crosses a small burn with crash barriers on either side of the road. This track can be traced wiggling a little across the hillside before taking a long straight towards the shore at Bay of Quoys near Quoyness, crossing the current road in the process. This is not soo dissimilar to the line shown on the MOT map, although the western end is difficult to piece together from the maps available or aerial photography.

How much of this route was ever the B9047 is difficult to know. Without a site visit to explore the old road, it is difficult to be sure if it could ever have been a road, or whether it was always just a rough path or track. No references can be found to the construction of the road, although the current route does seem to be largely in place on the 1912 edition of the OS One Inch Map, although this does not show all of the older path as shown a decade earlier on the Six Inch Map.

The 1922 MOT Road List defines this route as: Bu - Kirk Hope

Related Pictures
View gallery (2)
Approaching roadworks at Burnmouth, B9047 - Geograph - 1030922.jpgRoyal Hotel, Longhope - Geograph - 3030540.jpg
Other nearby roads
NCN1 • A960 • A961 • A962 • A963 • A964 • A965 • A966 • A967 • A986 • B9040 (Orkney) • B9041 • B9042 • B9043 • B9044 • B9045 • B9046 • B9048 • B9049 • B9049 (Quoyness) • B9050 • B9051 • B9052 • B9053 • B9054 • B9054 (Finstown - Twatt) • B9055 • B9056 • B9057 • B9058 • B9059 • B9060 • B9061 • B9062 • B9063 • B9064 • B9065 • B9066 • B9067 • B9068 • B9069 • B9070 • B9148
B9000 – B9099
B9000 • B9001 • B9002 • B9003 • B9004 • B9005 • B9006 • B9007 • B9008 • B9009 • B9010 • B9011 • B9012 • B9013 • B9014 • B9015 • B9016 • B9017 • B9018 • B9019
B9020 • B9021 • B9022 • B9023 • B9024 • B9025 • B9026 • B9027 • B9028 • B9029 • B9030 • B9031 • B9032 • B9033 • B9034 • B9035 • B9036 • B9037 • B9038 • B9039
B9040 • B9041 • B9042 • B9043 • B9044 • B9045 • B9046 • B9047 • B9048 • B9049 • B9050 • B9051 • B9052 • B9053 • B9054 • B9055 • B9056 • B9057 • B9058 • B9059
B9060 • B9061 • B9062 • B9063 • B9064 • B9065 • B9066 • B9067 • B9068 • B9069 • B9070 • B9071 • B9072 • B9073 • B9074 • B9075 • B9076 • B9077 • B9078 • B9079
B9080 • B9081 • B9082 • B9083 • B9084 • B9085 • B9086 • B9087 • B9088 • B9089 • B9090 • B9091 • B9092 • B9093 • B9094 • B9095 • B9096 • B9097 • B9098 • B9099
Earlier iterations: B9002(E) • B9002(W) • B9003 • B9005 • B9013 • B9014 • B9019 • B9038 • B9040 • B9049 • B9054
B9071 • B9076 • B9077 • B9078 • B9079 • B9080 • B9085 • B9093 • B9095 • B9098

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