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WWW.NTS.ORG.UK51?(no more than 23 metres abovesea level) and virtually tree-less,the landscape seems to stretchfor miles. A walk around theshoreline will blow away thecobwebs, and with the totalpopulation only nudging 70, youare unlikely to bump into manypeople on the way. You will see plenty ofbirds, seals and sheep, though. The latterare restricted to the beach by a dry stanedyke that surrounds the island. Theirstaple diet is seaweed, which gives themeat a distinctive flavour. You can see thesheep's wool being spun, too, as anotherlighthouse outbuilding has beenconverted for this purpose. Getting about isn't difficult. If you comeby ferry, you could bring your car, butNorth Ronaldsay is the only pier in Orkneythat doesn't have drive-off facilities, so yourvehicle would have to be winched off bycrane. Though there are no buses on theisland, it is so small that you can walkaround it in a day. You can hire bikes fromthe lighthouse café, and you needn't lockthem up. The weather can bechangeable, so you may be gratefulfor the hot water on tap back at thelighthouse cottage. You shouldn'tfeel guilty either, as at least 6kwof the electricity to the cottages isgenerated by windpower - windbeing something this place is notshort of. There is a cast iron Victorianslipper bath in the cottage - our preference- or a shower in the courtyard, suitablefor disabled users.As we arrive, Maureen is looking forwardto staying at the lighthouse, as sheremembers the comforting light from thebeacon swooshing through her bedroomwindow at Waterhouse as a wee girl. Wediscover that beneath the tower, as weare, the light is almost invisible. Butthere's comfort in darkness andtranquillity, too. lThe National Trust for Scotland has superbholiday accommodation all over the country.See www.nts.org.uk/Holidaysor call 0844 493 2108 to request abrochure.Light notesThe rocks around North Ronaldsay hadlong been a notorious shipping hazardbefore the most celebrated wreckoccurred in 1784, when the Sveciawent down with its cargo of gold andsilver. The island's first lighthouse wasbuilt in 1786, but it was poorly sited andhad the disastrous effect of luring evenmore ships to their doom. Wrecks arerecorded in a book, above. The currentlighthouse is the tallest on UK soil at 42metres. Arrangements can be madewith the North Ronaldsay Trust toclimb the tower to see the impressiveoriginal crystal lens, and take in theincredible 360º view of the island. Theold beacon, which still stands andfeatured in the BBC's Restorationprogramme in 2006, is being renovatedand a visitor centre is planned.From left: the twinbedroom; thenearby foghorn;the tastefully furnished livingroom; inside thetower and thelight itself

SUMMER BREAKS S SUMM MER BRREAKS S and glorious gardens making a perfect base for a holidaMany of the properties The National TSare located Trust for Scotland has SUMMclose to some of Scotland'a wide range of self-catering MERBRholiday or short break. Scotland's most breathtaking holiday accommodation. scenery lFindof the wThe charming Neerewe Garden. doutmoreandworld-famous InvNew for 2012k dbook harming Garden Lodge in the grounds w TheNationalTrustforScotlandforPlacesofHistoricInrtororconlinnterestorNaturalBeautyisachayrequestabroccall0844493neatwww.ntsrityregisteredinScotland,Charit0chure.2108.org.uk yNumberSC00741