Frequently Asked Questions
What to bring
What do I need to bring?
It's a working holiday, so you need to bring clothes that can get dirty and that can take possible rough use. Boots or shoes with steel toe caps are preferred, to protect your feet. The Festival will provide all volunteers with essential safety gloves (the Observatory shop also stock them). Feel free to bring your own if you wish, in a style that suits you. Good gloves are a very important item of safety equipment as the stones can have sharp edges and you'll be lifting a lot of them!
In the evenings and for 'time off', it's casual clothes. Bring books, a guitar, a fiddle, money for the bar and the shop (debit cards and major credit cards are accepted as well). Binoculars for the wildlife…
North Ronaldsay has poorer mobile reception and a slower internet connection than you may be used to! Big picture files and videos may not send as quickly as on mainland UK.
What will the weather be like? How should I dress?
Be prepared for all weather conditions as Orkney is well known for having changeable weather. Be prepared by bringing sunscreen as we have had warm, glorious sunshine during the last three festivals.
Do I need insurance?
The Sheep Festival has Public Liability insurance in place for all staff and volunteers. You should make your own arrangements for travel insurance, personal belongings insurance, etc.
How do I travel around the island?
You can, if you wish, get to all parts of the island on foot. However, bikes can be hired on the island and there is a minibus taxi that can be booked by phone.
Bike hire: Alex 07809 770 082 or email
Minibus taxi: Tommy Muir 01857 633 244
Dietary / Medical Requirements
I have special dietary requirements. Will this be a problem?
If you have any specific dietary requirements it is essential that you inform your place of stay, if you are being catered for. If you hold a subsidised place, it is important that you let us know in advance so that suitable supplies can be shipped to the island. In addition, you will be able to record your dietary needs on the required medical form.
In the unlikely event that your needs cannot be met, there are self-catering options available on the island and the shop can order supplies of your behalf in advance of your trip.
Is there a shop where I can buy provisions?
The shop at the Bird Observatory and is open daily at the following times:
Every day, 12pm-2pm.
Tuesdays, 12pm-4pm (because of the ferry arriving)
There is a wide selection of tinned and packet goods, sweets and biscuits, dairy products, meat and fresh vegetables (which arrive on the ferry twice a week), household items and branded NRBO clothing including hats, T-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts and more!
The new Easting Road Store also provides island supplies, Orkney produce, coffee, souvenirs, and some cooked items.
The Post Office stocks some tinned food in additions to pop, sweets and teas and coffees.
Open: Tue, Wed, Thur, Fri
Where can I get a cup of tea and a bite to eat on the island?
The Bird Observatory, Post office and the Lighthouse café serve tea and light snacks throughout the day.
What are the medical facilities on the island?
Firstly, please make all necessary staff aware of any medical conditions and allergies that you may have so that they can plan accordingly. The island has a full-time Nurse, who can be reached by phone, and who can carry out First Aid before deciding whether or not a trip to the Mainland is required. In a real emergency, an airlift is arranged via Air Ambulance or Coastguard.
A First Aid kit accompanies each group of volunteers during Dyke work.
Surgery 01857 633 226 (Landline)
What to See and Do
What else is there to do on the island?
There is plenty to do and see on North Ronaldsay. At the North end of the island is the tallest land-based lighthouse in the UK. In the same complex, there is a café, visitor centre and wool mill.
Tours can be arranged of the lighthouse and the wool mill.
In the New Kirk, near the airport is an archive exhibition about the history of the island and its people.
There are numerous archaeological sites on North Ronaldsay.
For more information please visit
What do I do in my spare time and in the evenings?
Festival activities include knitting and felting workshops, evening talks, traditional music sessions (open mic nights), film nights, wildlife walks, a dance, a bake-off competition, and the infamous island football match.
Where can I share pictures of the Festival?
Festival goers can join the Sheep Festival Community Group on Facebook and share pictures there.
Please be sure that you have the permission of persons photographed before you share them.
If you have some brilliant shots you are happy to share with us, please send them to the Festival!