The mysteries of the Orkney Islands never fail to attract young and old from far and near. The long-gone voices from the ancient sites dotted around these islands could tell us many tales of ancient civilisations, religious customs, and much more at which we can only guess. The voices may be quiet now, but they have left extraordinary remains of villages, howes, stone circles, and tombs which fire the imagination of all who visit them.
Of Orkney’s incredible allure and huge range of attractions, though, there is perhaps less mystery. Green, rolling fields bordered by huge seascapes, the festivals and shows, stacks and crashing seas, the sunken fleet at Scapa Flow, wonderful food and drink, island-hopping, golf at midnight in mid-summer, Orcadian music and crafts and of course spectacular wildlife.
In Orkney you can even feel the air and the pace of life doing you good.
Patricia Long, a tour guide from About Orkney has written an insightful look at St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall. Founded in 1137, St Magnus Cathedral is one of the oldest cathedrals in Scotland. Find out more about the faces around the sides of the tower, the collection of medieval gravestones and the stained glass windows in this beautiful building.
If we were asked to explain to someone who had never been before what makes Orkney so special it would be hard to name just one thing! There are many different facets that make up the essence of Orkney. To help explain, we've compiled a list of ten reasons why Orkney is a great place to visit!
The dialect of Orkney and Shetland has been greatly influenced by the islands’ history. Once part of Scandinavia, ‘Norn’ was the language used most commonly around the islands. Today, Scots is spoken in Orkney and Shetland , but there are a smattering of words heavily influenced by Norn. Do you know what Birl, Puggie and Plitter mean?
The Orkney Islands offer an ideal habitat for many breeds of birds. The rich seas and high sea cliffs support hundreds of thousands of seabirds. The hills, moors and fields are teaming with small birds and raptors. Orkney's coasts and wetlands attract a huge variety of waders. Read on to find out more about Orkney's wetlands and the birds you'll find there!
Visiting Orkney? Why not take a look at our island by island and place by place guide. You'll find lots of interesting facts and helpful hints and tips so that you can make the most of your trip to Orkney.
The Stromness Yule Log pull is a 'tug of war' competition, pitting those living in the North end (Northenders) against those from the South End (Soothenders) in a battle of strength as a large log is dragged through the streets of the town to opposing goals.
Tom Muir is an Orcadian storyteller and historian. His wife Rhonda is from America and she recently created the fantastic Orkneyology.com website, which is the ideal place to start when researching a visit to Orkney. In the summer of 2019 they launched the Orkney Folklore Trail App together; it’s a brilliant resource for discovering Orkney’s places and its fascinating folklore. NorthLink spoke to Tom and Rhonda Muir and asked them all about it!
Egilsay is tied to one of the most well-known stories in Orkney's history; the martyrdom of St Magnus. However it is also a fantastic place to visit for a day; and we loved exploring the island, seeing the cenotaph, St Magnus Chruch, the RSPB reserve and the brilliant beach.
Deerness Distillery is a relatively new business, having only been open for just over three years in Orkney. However with their multi-award winning Sea Glass gin and smooth Into the Wild vodka they have made an indelible mark in the gin & vodka scene here in Scotland and the UK. With new product being released recently, such as Scuttled gin, owner Stuart Brown caught up with NorthLink Ferries to talk about the importance of taking your time to get things just right!
100 years ago, the German navy did the unthinkable: it deliberately sank 52 of its own ships in one day. The scuttling of the German High Seas Fleet at Scapa Flow on 21 June 1919 was a deliberate act of sabotage carried out on the orders of Admiral Ludwig von Reuter, who feared that the fleet would fall into the hands of the victorious Allied powers of the First World War.
We love visiting Orkney's North Isles; each one is quite different from the other and from the Orkney Mainland. You'll find much to do when visiting Eday, Egilsay, North Ronaldsay, Papa Westray, Rousay, Sanday, Shapinsay, Stronsay, Westray or Wyre. However we thought it would be interesting to pick out one place; the one thing you must see when visiting; a highlight for each of North Isles. Read on - we hope you agree with our choices!