Orkney is really worth a visit and easily reached from Inverness. Although it is possible to take a day trip from here, it is a very long day. As I’ve just experienced, there is so much to see so I recommend going for at least 3 days. I also recommend going on a tour so you get the full experience of all Orkney has to offer. My tour was 3 days in Orkney from Inverness with Rabbies. They organise the travel, ferry, timings and bookings at attractions. So it is great to be able to relax in a very comfortable minibus and enjoy the spectacular views without having to organise a thing. There are a lot of places off the typical tourist route on the trip, which are very memorable.
World Heritage Site
Orkney is a collection of islands just off the coast of northern mainland Scotland, which is reached by air or ferry. There are about 70 islands, about 20 of them are inhabited. People have lived on Orkney for over 5000 years. It contains some of the oldest and best preserved Neolithic sites in Europe. The Ring of Brodgar dates from around 2500 BC and is the third oldest stone circle in Britain. This Ring plus Skarra Brae, the Stones of Stenness, Maeshowe, Barnhouse Stone and the Watch Stone make up the Heart of the Neolithic Orkney World Hertitage site.
More Recent History
The Royal Navy had a base at Scapa Flow, which played a major part in both WWI and WWII. The German fleet scuttled their boats at the end of WWI at Scapa flow and a German U boat sank HMS Royal Oak in Scapa Flow. After this huge loss prisoners of war built barriers across the water to close access to the channels. As a result these barriers became causeways linking islands, allowing travellers to move easily between islands without the need of a ferry. The prisoners of war also built the amazing Italian Chapel.
Kirkwall and Stromness
The capital is Kirkwall and about one third of Orkadians live there. Stromness is on an inlet of Scapa Flow and is the main port. Both are pretty towns full of character. The centre of Kirkwall is dominated by St Magnus Cathedral and the Bishop’s Palace, so they are well worth visiting. There is an impressive amount of local food suppliers throughout Orkney and many independent shops. The land is very fertile and as a result award winning local produce is available. Check out JP Orkney’s site for some delicious examples available, with deliveries to the rest of the UK. As well as offering the fabulous little honesty box pictured below, they run tours of the islands.
This is a rich and fertile land. Full of history, culture, nature and stunning scenery, Orkney is well worth a visit. After a busy 3 days in Orkney I’m sure there is still a lot more to see. To find out more about all there is to see read more at Orkney.com. Read more on the journey to John O’Groats from Inverness on your way to the ferry port. You can start your adventure to the northern isles with a break in Inverness. This is an ideal starting point to explore the Scottish Highlands. Read more on why you should stay at Bannerman Bed and Breakfast and how to travel to Inverness.