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Happy Valley Local Nature Reserve

Happy Valley is located off the Bigswell Road in the parish of Stenness and comprises the Grade C(s) listed single-storey house named Bankburn and an area of garden which has been created along the Burn of Russadale, as well as four enclosed fields. Altogether, the property extends to 2.88 hectares.

The previous occupant, Mr Edwin Harrold, planted many trees, shrubs and flowers around the house and alongside the burn. Over time the trees grew and developed into a mature woodland, creating a micro-climate which now supports a wide range of species, including invertebrates, mosses and liverworts. Whilst Happy Valley is most widely known for its mature woodland, the site also supports a range of other habitats. These include the Burn of Russadale, stone walls, shaded earth banks, a freshwater pond and wildflower-rich grassland, as well as a small patch of heathland.

Edwin began to welcome visitors, both local people and tourists, to share in enjoying the special place he had created. This continued for many years, until, aged over 90, he had to move into care before passing away in 2005.

While Edwin lived at Happy Valley, the property was owned by Professor William Isbister. Following Edwin’s death, Professor Isbister gifted the house and land to Orkney Islands Council, so that it could continue to be enjoyed by members of the public. Now owned and managed by the Council, Happy Valley continues to be promoted for public access.

A local group, the Friends of Happy Valley (FHV), came together in 2005 and have been involved in the upkeep of the property ever since. FHV is now a registered charitable organisation (SCO44724) and can raise funds for its charitable objectives. In particular, its members have been instrumental in planting further trees in one of the fields adjoining the mature woodland. Along with the Council, FHV seeks to ensure that the legacy of Happy Valley lives on, enabling people to continue to experience and enjoy this peaceful corner of Stenness.

During 2017, recognising the special nature of Happy Valley and its place at the heart of the local community, the Council designated it as a Local Nature Reserve.

Visitors are welcome to visit Happy Valley at all times, free of charge.

Happy Valley Public Access Improvement Project

In February 2019 the Orkney Islands Council were successful in securing a grant from the Orkney LEADER programme which was used to install a boardwalk path, pedestrian access and two stone benches.  This project was successfully completed in July 2019.


For more information on the funders, please click here

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