The Orkney Isles are located off the North Coast of Scotland. Some of its Isles can clearly be seen from the North Coast, like at John O’Groats, where cyclists set off to (or arrive from) Lands End (on the South Coast of England). For more than 10 years we have looked across and said ‘we must go there one day’…Orkney I mean…never have we thought we must cycle to Lands End 😉
With our reduced income we are exploring more of Scotland with our dog and our tent. So, finally, we booked ourselves on a week long trip to Orkney.
We based ourselves at The Orkney Caravan Park in Kirkwall. A great location as we can easily walk into the town centre, its close to 3 supermarkets and its a lovely campground with lots of ‘extras’, like a campers kitchen with everything but an oven (so microwave, toaster, kettle, fridge, freezer etc.). Its shower cubicles have sinks and toilets within, plus spare sink and toilet cubicles. It is next to the leisure centre and you even get 2 free passes if you want to go swimming or play racket sports.
Kirkwall is the capital of the Orkney Isles and is on the Mainland. There are various ferry ports across the Mainland giving you access to some of the other Isles:
- from Kirkwall you can sail to the isles of Stronsay, Eday, Sanday, Westray and Papa Westray
- from Stromness you can sail to the isles of Graemsay and Hoy
- from Tingwall you can sail to the isles of Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre
- from Houton you can sail to the isles of Flotta, Hoy, South Walls (there’s also a causeway from Hoy to South Walls)
- there is also a causeway you can drive across to Land Holm, Burray and South Ronaldsay
St. Magnus Cathedral
The most northerly cathedral in Britain. Romanesque architecture, built in 1137 and additions made over the next 300 years. It was built for the bishops of Orkney when the Isles were ruled by Norse Earls.
The Bishop’s Palace built in the 12th Century and the Earl’s Palace built in 1607.
Ring of Brodgar
The Standing Stones of Stenness
Scara Brae and Skaill House
Mull Head Nature Reserve and The Gloup (sea arch)
There are some very interesting information boards here, which explain how this used to be part of a lake (below the equator!) millions of years ago and some of the cliffs were sanddunes on the edge of the lake! That’s my husband and our dog on the top left picture.
Brough of Birsay
Glimpse Holm and the Churchill Barriers
Tomb of the Eagles
Isle of Shapinsay
So to sum up our Orkney holiday…we really enjoyed the Mainland, so much so we only ended up doing one ferry trip to another isle, but we did explore all the ones joined by causeways. We were blessed with the weather really, it rained some nights but days were mostly beautiful sunshine. We visited lots of bird hides and spotted some new birds we haven’t seen before. We ate loads of cakes! Goodness knows what the scales will say when we are home! Lots of places were dog friendly and the cafes that weren’t had picnic tables outside if you could cope with the wind! Allistar did lose a bit of lettuce off his plate outside the Orkney Brewery.