Here are some of Orkney’s many wonderful places to visit – from a day tour in the Five Senses car. Always atmospheric, memorable and unique – a land of history preserved in stone, protected by distance and heritage, and now open to exploration – right on our doorstep.
Broch of Gurness
The Broch of Gurness: one of, if not the, best preserved broch sites in Britain. Some brochs may be taller (a broch is a round tower with double walls, dating back to the iron age – they are found mostly in northern Scotland, near the coast, where a once great people or society must have flourished), but at Gurness there are the amazingly well preserved outer defenses, the buildings of a village huddled around it . Most impressive of all is still being allowed to go right inside the site, touch the stones and explore. A beautiful setting too – this site was a highlight of touring Orkney.
Kirkwall is the main town in Orkney – the capital town, with a population around the 7,000 mark. This number is swelled by all the 19,000 or so residents in Orkney, who come from all over the many islands to shop and work and play, in Kirkwall. In the summer there are also many cruise ships calling by, passengers getting a fleeting look at the famous sites and a little bit of shopping before sailing away. It is much better to stay in one of the many B&Bs, hotel, hostel or camp ground and enjoy the nightlife.
Notice the ice cream sign on the left – Orkney ice cream is the best – reflecting the way the cows graze tasty, fresh grass and lead healthy lives, and no doubt craftsmanship in the making too.
Stenness Standing Stones
The Stenness Standing Stones are in the middle of the Neolithic World Heritage Site and a “must visit” site. Notice I don’t just say ‘must see’? To appreciate these stones and his site you need to get out and walk amongst them – which we can do for free! How cool is that – the oldest henge (like Stonehenge) in Britain, probably, and it is open access 24/7.
This site holds great secrets!
The sheep keep the grass down but watch where you step!
One of the delights of Orkney is the amazing coastline and the life it supports. At Birsay, in the NW corner of the biggest island – called Mainland – you can get really close, explore rock pools and sandy beaches as you cross the tidal causeway to the Viking and Pictish settlements.
Take time to enjoy the detail – we always try to be out of the vehicle as much as possible, to slow down and be fully present – if for a fleeting moment – at least enjoy it as much as life allows.
Tomb of the Eagles
Tomb of the Eagles – a 5,000 year old chambered cairn above stunningly beautiful cliffs of South Ronaldsay (southerly island of Orkney) is so named because of the many sea eagle talons that were found there, as well as human bones, skulls, and mysterious stone objects / tools.
Best of all is that the site is privately run by the wonderful family who discovered and unearthed the site. You can get closer to the artifacts, learn more and visit the Bronze Age house also found on their land. From experience it is best to allow at least 2 hours for a visit – we had lunch there (picnic). See this blog.
Dwarfie Stane – Hoy
The Dwarfie Stane is fantastic – the only one of its kind in Britain – it used to be the most visited site by antiquarians but is now forgotten, so we got it all to ourselves. Three people can crawl inside this huge sandstone boulder that has been hollowed out, experts think by Stone Age people using simple tools and brains. Not much else is known about it – unless you go with Malcolm, who knows secrets about the site.
Skara Brae Neolithic Village
Skara Brae Village, in west Orkney is the number one tourist attraction. This is just one of the “houses” as they are called of the unique village cluster, exposed after a storm in 1850. The site has been much cleaned up and tidied now and due to visitor pressure you have to keep out of the actual site, and walk around the edge. Fair enough – the site needs protecting.
This is more than enough for one day – yet there is so much else to see and do, this is just the tip of the iceberg but I hope it helps you to decide to come and visit these amazing islands and people.
For more information see these websites:
BTW – The auto selected links below are rubbish!