the Orkney Isles...

culture, attractions, wildlife, activities and warm hospitality - a destination in its own right...
A heritage dating back through six millennia - unique islands in time. Orkney's famous archaeology, superb wildlife, landscape, traditional island welcome, unique arts and crafts and superb seafood (and whisky) are well known - at least to lovers of the good life. This archipelago of over 70 islands is both richly fertile and richly endowed with so many contrasting attractions. Getting to Orkney is as easy - there are direct flights from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness to Kirkwall together with ferries from Aberdeen and Caithness (Scrabster, Gills Bay and John o'Groats). There are also comprehensive inter-island ferry connections with the Orkney Islands. All these ferries offer the visitor the opportunity to experience Orkney's coastline with dramatic scenes such as the Old Man of Hoy standing proud on the route to Stromness. They also offer an introduction to the island's wildlife, especially the seabirds. One in six of all British species of seabird (over 350 recorded species) nest here in every conceivable rock, cranny and ledge on Orkney's dramatic cliffs. Noup Head on the island of Westray is famous for its colonies of kittiwakes, guillemots, puffins, razorbills and fulmars - Orkney is an ornithologist's paradise with over 8000 hectares of nature reserve land managed by the RSPB.

Orkney's wildlife is matched by its ancient heritage which dates back six millennia. Skara Brae is, without doubt, the finest preserved Stone Age village in western Europe and forms part of the islands' World Heritage Site. The chambered cairn at Maesknowe is considered to be one of the greatest architectural achievements of its time - 5,000 years ago. More recently, these islands have played an important part in the defence of the realm with Scapa Flow being an outstanding harbour for the British Fleet. The best way of seeing Orkney at its best is by taking walks around the coast. Island hopping is also popular and there is nothing better than enjoying the local food and drink of an evening, or even visiting the Highland Park Distillery in Kirkwall.