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Things to See and Do Around Kirkwall and Orkney

remote, wild & windswept

Scattered in windswept waters, 16km from the northernmost reaches of the Scottish mainland, lie the seventy or so islands which make up Orkney. Only twenty are inhabited.

The islands offer the kind of experiences and epic natural beauty that captures hearts and minds. Whatever your weakness – culture vulture, avid adventurer, intrepid explorer, foodie, wildlife enthusiast, or historian – Orkney will quench your cravings for the unusual, the undiscovered, the once-in-a-lifetime…

Discover Kirkwall

We’re at the heart of Orkney’s proud capital – Kirkwall. With medieval streets, working harbour and the magnificent St Magnus Cathedral, the town has a lively atmosphere. Founded in 1137, the cathedral took over 300 years to complete. Today it dominates the town’s skyline and is open all year round. If you like the cathedrals, you’ll no doubt like The Bishop’s Palace and The Earl’s Palace – built at the same time as the cathedral, they are great examples of Romanesque architecture.

Kirkwall’s medieval streets are brimming with independent shops, cafes and live music spots.

The Orkney Museum provides a real insight into the islands’ history, with the adjoining Tankerness House Gardens being a delightful stop-off point.



Whisky Tours

Orkney lies outside the five major whisky making regions of Scotland and has only two distilleries, one of which – The Highland Park Distillery – is just a mile or so from the hotel. The distillery’s founder - Magnus Eunson - was a direct Viking descendant.

It is said that the illicit distillery was founded in 1798 – but in truth, that’s just the year that the authorities finally caught up with Magnus! Today, the distillery’s custodians stay true to the exacting standards of whisky that their founder introduced, sharing his bold and uncompromising approach. Crafted in the old way by a new generation of Vikings, the critically acclaimed whisky is shaped by our surprisingly temperate with its lack of extremes (2°C in winter to 16°C in summer) - perfect for a long, even-paced whisky maturation. A creative selection of tours and experiences are available for you to enjoy (and there’s no need to drive!)

East Mainland – Beyond the Barriers

The East Mainland and islands of Burray and South Ronaldsay have, since the Second World War, been linked by the Churchill Barriers that provide easy road crossing whilst offering spectacular views – only 30 minutes’ drive from the hotel, this is road trip of a lifetime material.

Travelling south across the barriers from the Mainland, through Lamb Holm and into Burray and South Ronaldsay, you will find quaint villages, lovely beaches and thriving wildlife – visit October to December for the best chance of spotting seal pups.

Aside from the Churchill Barriers, there are many reminders of Orkney’s wartime history – concrete bunkers, watch towers, memorials, and the world-renowned Italian Chapel, built by Italian prisoners of war who were brought to Orkney in 1942 to construct the Churchill Barriers. Burray’s Fossil and Heritage Centre provides a fascinating insight into Orkney’s ancient past – and the construction of the Churchill Barriers.

West Mainland – Neolithic Orkney

With its dramatic cliffs and stunning coastal scenery, thriving seabird colonies and spectacular walks, the West Mainland has plenty to enjoy, but the Neolithic remains are perhaps the biggest draw to this corner of Orkney.

You can get up close to see for yourself how our ancestors lived 5,000 years ago with Skara Brae – the best-preserved Neolithic village in Northern Europe, the Ring of Brodgar, the Standing Stones of Stenness and Maeshowe are all easily accessible.





Outer Isles – Magic and Mystery

For intrepid explorers, the Outer Isles are not to be missed. Daily vehicle ferries are available in the summer from Kirkwall, making visiting Westray, Sanday, Eday and Stonesay very easy. For winter ferry timetables, please visit www.orkneyferries.co.uk – there is no need to book as a foot passenger, but it is advisable to do so for vehicles.

These popular islands hold a charm all of their own. Visit Westray for the best chance of spotting puffins - a colony of around 600 can be seen around the Castle O’Burrian sea stack from May to August. Visit Sanday for some of the most spectacular beaches and sheltered bays, or Eday for the Heritage Walk – a wonderful way to experience the island’s past, with remains from the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Age, Pictish and Norse periods. Stronsay has many showstopping spots for passionate photographers - the Val of Kirbister for example, is the finest natural rock arch in Orkney.

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