An Island Home

Shapinsay is a small island in Orkney, which is north of mainland Scotland. This is where we live (map courtesy of wikipedia).

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P1 - P3 have been learning about Shapinsay, and have helped to create the following part of the website. We hope it helps to tell you a bit more about where we live!

On Shapinsay we have a fire station.

We have a ferry that means we can get to Kirkwall. The ferry goes 6 times a day.

We have a restaurant called the Smithy which has a museum upstairs called the Heritage Centre.

The wind turbine is called Whirly. It spins and makes electricity.

The shop on Shapinsay is run by Sheena but other people work there too.

Burroughstone Broch is on Shapinsay and is about 2000 years old!

We like to play in the play park!

We have an ambulance on the island that helps people get to Balfour Hospital in Kirkwall if they are ill. We have nurses here all the time, and there are doctors here on some days.

We have a kirk on Shapinsay. Rev Julia is our minister.

The older children did some writing about Shapinsay and what it is like living here:

Living on Shapinsay

Our Island

There are about 300 people here in Shapinsay. There is one shop, a pub, kirk (church) and a café/restaurant. At the Smithy you can have coffee, cake and lovely meals. Above the Smithy restaurant there is a Heritage Centre which contains old photographs and objects from the island’s history. Next to the school is a doctor’s surgery where the doctor and the nurses work.

We have a boat which runs to Kirkwall (the small town on the main island of Orkney). It is called the MV Shapinsay. It takes 25 minutes to get to Kirkwall. The boat goes at 7.30am, 9.00am, 10.30am, 1.30pm, 3.15pm and 4.45pm every day.

The nearest island is called Helliar Holm. There is a lighthouse on it and a few small, ruined houses.

On Shapinsay, we have a castle surrounded by lots of trees. The castle was built by David Balfour in about 1850. It is called Balfour Castle.

There are a lot of farms. The farms grow barley and potatoes. There are lots of cows and some sheep.

Our school

Our school is a fun place to learn and play with friends. Our teacher is very kind. Our school has three classrooms, a hall, courtyard, a play park and a field with trees. In the play park we have swings, climbing frames and a roundabout. In the hall we have toys to play with.

At Easter, our janitor painted the walls of the toilets. The girls' toilets have a mural with lots of sea creatures like fish, crabs, starfish, jellyfish and an octopus. The boys’ toilet walls are painted with pictures of jungle animals: a giraffe, an elephant, a monkey and a hippopotamus. In summer 2013 we helped to paint a new mural on the wall beside the playpark. The mural shows Helliar Holm.

Last year we grew peas, herbs, parsnips, kohl rabi and broccoli in our polytunnel. This year we are planting strawberries, peas, broad beans, parsley, thyme and rosemary.

We have 3 school guinea pigs. We like to feed them and cuddle them. We also have a very old goldfish which lives in a tank in the nursery classroom.

Children start in our nursery at 3 years old. At 4 years old they go into the pre-school. From 5 years old to 8 years, the children are in the Primary 1 to 3 class. From 9 years old to 12 years, they are in the Primary 4 to 7 class. After that children leave our school and go to a secondary school on the main Orkney island. This school is called Kirkwall Grammar School. It takes children from 12 to 18 years. KGS children have to get the boat every day to go to school or they can stay in the school hostel during the week and go home at weekends.

At school we learn English, maths, science, French, art, music, RME (religion), technologies, ICT (computers), Social Subjects (history, geography, business, government etc) and PE (sport, gymnastics and dance) and drama.

There are 5 children in the nursery/preschool class, 8 in the P1-P3 class and 14 children in the P4-P7 class. Some of our pupils were born in Orkney, others come from England, France and Poland.


For most of the year it is windy and rainy. The temperature varies between about 5˚C in winter and 18˚C in summer. We don’t get much snow and almost never have any frosts. Sometimes there are very strong storms, almost up to hurricane force.


Shapinsay has a lot of wildlife including killer whales, seals, otters and many birds, such as curlews, redshanks, gulls and pheasants. The seals spend a lot of time on the beaches. That is where they have their babies.

Orkney does not have any foxes, squirrels or badgers but these do live in the rest of Scotland.


On our island we have groups for  Rainbows,Brownies, Guides, Beavers, Cubs and Scouts. There is a playgroup for toddlers, a Youth Club for P4 upwards and a Lunch Club for older people. Lots of clubs meet in our Community Centre. There is a music group, singing group, handbell group, badminton club, yoga group and photography club. People who want to exercise use the Fitness Suite which is at the other end of the school building, next to the doctor’s surgery.


There are lots of other websites which will give you more information about Shapinsay and Orkney. Please click the names below to find out more.

Shapinsay Development Trust

The Shapinsay Sound (monthly magazine)

Shapinsay Tourism Group

Visit Shapinsay


Orkney Islands Council

Orcadian Newspaper


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