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sandy beaches, stunning scenery, abundance of wildlife, fresh
quality cuisine and warm welcoming hospitality make these islands
an ideal place for relaxing or an action-packed holiday.
When in Orkney you’ll feel touched by the power of the sea and
by the power of the past. With 5,000 years of culture, there is
history around every corner. Wherever you are, you can literally
touch the past as you run your hand across rock hewn thousands
of years ago.
Orkney also has a vibrant contemporary culture. Throughout the
year there are festivals and events ranging from the magical midsummer
St Magnus Festival to the annual agricultural shows and sporting
events, including Orkney’s very own Ba’ and, of course, the islands’
varied craft industry continues through all seasons.
Here are some facts about the Orkney Islands:
The Orkney Isles are loved be divers, with Scapa Flow regarded
as one of the best wreck-diving sites in Europe. Among the boats
for divers to check out around the Orkney Isles are 3 battleships
of the German High Seas Fleet that were scuttled in 1919, a World
War 2 German escort vessel and the barge sent to salvage it.
Skara Brae is one of the Orkney Isles' most impressive
Neolithic sites. The well preserved stone village has beds and
cupboards still intact, and dates back 5,000 years. It was not
uncovered until 1850, when fierce winds and high tides stripped
the earth from Skerrabra mound.
Bessie Millie is the Orkney Isles' legendary witch. She
sold 'favourable winds' to sailors for a sixpence and she was
described as having a nose and chin that almost met. She told
author Sir Walter Scott the tale of John Gow, the famous Orkney
Isles buccaneer, which influenced Scott's novel 'The Pirate'.
The Orkney Isles are home to many lighthouses built by
the Stevenson family, well respected engineers whose number included
Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of 'Treasure Island'.
The tradition of ba' is upheld in the Orkney Isles at Christmas
and Hogmanay. In this mass street football game in Kirkwall, the
'Uppies' goal is the wall of a house in the south of the town,
while the 'Doonies' have to get the ba' into the sea. Games last
for hours and there are no rules, attempts to smuggle the ba'
out of the scrum have seen players take to the Orkney Isles' rooftops.
One of the Orkney Isles' most famous sons is James Petrie
Chalmers. Born in 1866, he became an apprentice printer for The
Orkney Herald and later moved to New York where he edited the
first film magazine, the highly influential 'The Moving Picture
The Orkney Isles offer the shortest flight in the world.
The flight lasts just two minutes and takes you from Westray to
Papa Westray. It can take even less time if the wind is low.
Here are just
some places to visit in and around The Orkney Isles: