About Us

About Us

The Farm

Our farm is a very important part of our lives. The farm has been in James’ family for many years and he is the 3rd generation to farm it, along with his wife Susan and their young children. For 10 years we have dreamed of turning redundant farm buildings into Orkney holiday accommodation. This has been made possible through a Scottish Rural Development Grant to help towards the costs of renovating these beautiful buildings to provide sustainable self-catering in Orkney whilst retaining their original character.

We keep around 70 suckler cows and their followers on the farm along with a small flock of pedigree Suffolk sheep which was established in the 60’s by James’ Grandfather. We also grow spring barley for feeding to our cattle as well as selling to a few local farmers. Though farming conventionally, we farm with the environment in mind using fertilisers and sprays only where necessary.

We entered into a biodiversity plan in 2010 which saw areas fenced off to preserve waterways and wetlands. Along with planting 6000 native trees and 1000 metres of hedgeline, we have also planted areas to benefit feeding birds in the winter and some species rich grassland with wild flowers. Already we have noticed an increase in wildlife.


Consisting of 60 acres, Brecks is part of a larger farm of 300 acres spread over six units on South Ronaldsay.

Though currently 60 acres, Brecks was once the home of a larger estate with the lands of Grimness split into two estates of Brecks & Cara.

One historical figure in Orkney’s colourful & sometimes violent past owned Brecks. “Sir James Sinclair of Brecks” came to fame in the early half of the 1500s.

Orkney at that time operated under the Norse Udal law though both Orkney and Shetland were now under Scottish rule. James Sinclair and his followers refused to pay taxes for 3 years fearing the encroachment of Scottish Feudal law.

James Sinclair led an uprising and seized the Kirkwall Castle, ousting the Justice Depute of Orkney who fled and sought refuge in Caithness. Once there he appealed to the King of Scotland for assistance to quell the uprising in Orkney. A year later the King demanded that the rebels hand back the Castle which they refused to do. With Royal authority an army of 500 men was raised with the Earl of Caithness’s help to invade Orkney.

So in 1529 the Battle of Summerdale occurred between the Earl of Caithness’ forces and an Orkney band of rebels led by James Sinclair of Brecks.

The Earls forces were routed and not a single Orcadian lost their life in the battle though legend has it that one young Orcadian decided to don some clothes of the Caithness forces. On returning home was killed by his mother with a makeshift weapon of a stone in a sock as she thought him to be one of the invaders!

James Sinclair was later pardoned for his defiance of the crown, knighted and gifted the feudal grant to the Islands of Sanday & Stronsay. Probably to appease the Islanders and not drive them back into the arms of the King of Norway.


At the start of 2010 work started on Brecks, with the help of funding through a Scottish Rural Development Plan Grant. The buildings known as The Barn and The Byre were on our farm in a lovely location with super views. We had dreamed of turning them into something special for years. The Barn was originally used for grain storage and hay. The Byre was used for cattle and latterly to store bales of hay.

John Winstanley from Deerness drew up the plans for us from stetches my husband James had drawn of how he wanted things laid out. John was very efficient and it was not long before the plans were in to the council and approved.

We project managed the build ourselves and the TEAM consisted of James Wishart, Duncan Swannie, Douglas Scott(joiner), Stephen Rorie(plumbing), George Drever(stonemason from J & D Firth), Wesley Walls(electrician), Dave Kirkpatrick(taping and filling from J & D Firth), Colin Parker(painter). Not forgetting myself Susan who managed all the ordering, pricing, grant paperwork, e-mails, and keeping my husband right! Also our families who helped with our 2 very young children and kept us sane throughout.

Our 1st guests arrived in June 2012 and we have been delighted to see the buidings used and enjoyed again.

Carbon Off-Setting / Tree Planting

In 2010 we planted around 6000 trees on our farm as part of our Orkney holiday lets Bio-diversity plan. Common Alder, Birch, Hazel, Hawthorn, Ash, Rowan and Willows were planted near Brecks and its surrounding land. Hedging was also planted along the sides of fields stretching around 1000 metres in total.

We will be planting one tree per Orkney holiday booked at Brecks to help off-set the carbon emitted both getting to and from Brecks. Planting these trees will take place in Autumn and Spring and we hope to offer guests who are interested the chance to help out with the planting. More details to follow.

We hope that guests staying at our Orkney holiday accommodation will enjoy seeing the trees as they grow bigger each year, enhancing the beauty of the area and the wildlife they will attract.

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