"The Orkney Islands." Top 5 Page for this destination Orkney by leics
Orkney Travel Guide: 236 reviews and 501 photos
I'd wanted to go to the Orkney Islands for many years because of the archaeology (inevitably). I managed my first visit in 2000, and have returned twice since. I hadn't realised what else they had to offer. Now I want to live there.
I spent most of my time on Mainland, but have also visited Rousay and Hoy. Next time I go, I'll go to some of the other islands.
This photo of the Bay of Skaill is typical of Orkney beaches.......... white sand, crystal water and hardly any people. The Gulf Stream keeps Orkney warmer than you might think ......I found coral on the beach.
Orkney is world famous for its prehistoric monuments, which remain in excellent condition. Possibly the best-known is the Neolithic (5000 BC) settlement at Skara Brae. Covered over by sand dunes for thousands of years, it was exposed by a huge storm in the early twentieth century, excavated and preserved. There's an excellent Visitors' Centre and reconstructed Neolithic house to help you understand what life was like for the people who once lived in the houses you can see. What you probably won't know is that even more buildings are thought to survive, and are slowly being eroded out of the cliff. It's too dangerous to excavate them, so we must wait for the sea to do its work.
The Orkney Islands were governed by the Vikings for many years and strong links remain with Scandanavia, particularly Norway. A recent DNA investigation in Mainland showed strong genetic links between the islanders and Viking homelands, and their accent seems to be a mixture of Highland Scots and Scandanavian.
St. Magnus' cathedral in the capital, Kirkwall, is built of red sandstone, much weathered but still beautiful. Its peaceful atmosphere is rendolent of the past. The story of St. Magnus is best told by the Orkney poet and writer George Mackay Brown, who lived all his life in Stromness. I recommend reading some of his novels and short stories if you want a real flavour of the islands and their past.
More detail in the travelogues below. Enjoy!
- Pros:Peace, solitude, prehistory, history, birds, landscape.
- Cons:Can't think of any!
- In a nutshell:The most wonderful islands!
The Brough of Birsay is a tidal island, only accessible on foot across the causeway which is exposed at low tide. The... more travel advice
Scapa Flow is the body of water which lies between Mainland and the islands joined by the 'Churchill barriers' and the... more travel advice
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