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Orkney Islands, Scotland

Stromness, Orkney Islands, Scotland

Stromness, Orkney Islands, Scotland

Orkney Islands, Scotland

An Antipodean travel company serving World Travellers since 1983 taking you to Orkney and other isles of Scotland on a small group tour for senior couples or solo travellers interested in Scottish history. 

Orkney Islands, Scotland

The Orkney Islands, also referred to as Orkney, are an archipelago off the north coast of mainland Scotland. Comprised of around 70 islands (20 of which are inhabited), the Orkney Islands have a mystical charm that makes you feel as if you are far away from everything despite the fact they are very accessible from the mainland. Orkney’s largest island is called Mainland and it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.

The best way to get to travel to Orkney is by ferry or plane. You can fly from many of the major cities in the UK, including London, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, to Kirkwall, Orkney’s capital. It is cheapest, and quickest, to fly from Aberdeen. Northlink ferries also run from Aberdeen to Kirkwall. The journey takes around seven hours but the ferries are very comfortable and equipped with all the facilities you might need. There are also ferry links between Scrabster (near Thurso) and Stromness, and John O’Groats and Burwick. It is possible to do a day trip to Orkney from northern Scotland but those who can fit it into their itinerary, an overnight visit at a hotel or booking a few nights accommodation is a better way to make the most of the islands.

What to See in Orkney

Ring Of Brodgar, Orkney Islands, Scotland

Orkney is known for its prehistoric treasures and Neolithic sites, in particular its magnificent and ancient stone circles. A must-see site is the Ring of Brodgar, considered to be the finest known truly circular late Neolithic or early Bronze Age stone ring. Thought to be built around 2500 BC, 27 of the original 60 stones remain standing today and visiting the stone circle is a truly magical experience.

A house at Skara Brae, Orkney
Another important site is Skara Brae, the best-preserved group of prehistoric houses in Western Europe. The settlement was first uncovered by a severe storm in 1850 and remains a place of discovery. You can explore these prehistoric homes, admiring the dressers and beds early humans made from stones more than 5,000 years ago. Today, visitors can enjoy an interactive exhibit that offers a fascinating insight into one of Orkney’s most incredible archeological sites.
Another archaeological wonder, also built 5,000 years ago, is Maeshowe, a Stone Age chambered tomb built into a hilly mound. The tomb, also known as a cairn, was first excavated in the mid-19th century and the tomb is built from enormous sandstone blocks that must have been brought from many miles away.
The town of Kirkwall, you can see St Magnus Cathedral in the distance

St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall is a Viking-era red sandstone cathedral and Britian’s most northerly cathedral. It was founded in 1137 by Earl Rognvald, a Viking, as somewhere he could lay Magnus, his martyred uncle, to rest. His remains are entombed in an interior pillar. Those who choose to have a guided tour of the cathedral are allowed to climb the bell tower.

A twenty minute walk from the cathedral is the excellent Highland Park Distillery. The Highland Park distillery offers a number of guided tours and has been a part of the isle for a long time. The whisky distillery is still operating today and whisky has been distilled since 1798 and the barley is used is smoked over 4000 year old peat cut from the nearby Hobbister Moor.

The Churchill Barriers

The Churchill Barriers refer to four causeways that were built after the sinking of the HMS Royal Oak while it lay at harbour in Scapa Flow, a body of water in the Orkney Islands, in October 1939. Construction of the barriers began in May 1940 and much of the labour was provided by Italian prisoners of war, held in a camp on the island of Lamb Holm. Opened in 1945, the barriers have now been transformed into roads and link Mainland with the other Orkney isles of Lamb Holm, Glimps Holm, Burray and South Ronaldsay.

The exterior of the Italian Chapel

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