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JUNE 2019

Orkney has some glorious sunsets and now near the summer solstice the sun sets around 1030pm.

MAY 2019

17th May is Norwegian Constitution Day and Orkney marks the many links between the two countries by celebrating as well.  There is a procession through Kirkwall with a band and flags just as happens in Norway.

January 2019

Calm day on Warbeth beach looking towards Hoy.

February 2019

Chilly dawn tinges the sky pink over the hills of Hoy.

July 2017

Moody look to Rackwick Bay on Hoy.  Hoy feels very remote from Mainland Orkney.

June 2017

This has to be puffin time.  There have been fewer each year lately but thanks to Chris Bradburn and his camera we were able to photo these guys on the cliffs near Birsay.

MAY 2017

17th May is Norwegian Constitution Day and we celebrate in Orkney with a traditional 'tog' or procession through the town with a band, visitors in Noational costume and lots of flags.



MAY 2017

I usually put in a picture of lambs in the spring but this wee chap is defintiely in the mega gorgeous category.  Orkney has a lot of Shetland ponies but this year I seem to have seen more foals than before.

MAY 2017

This picture was taken at 1030 pm.  The sun has long set but there is this wonderful twilight in Orkney that lasts long into the evening.

APRIL 2017

After a mild winter the daffodils bloomed early this year.  It is one of the delights of an Orkney spring to drive along roads which have been planted by daffodils.  It started for the Queen's Silver Jubillee and was continued for the Millenium.  With apologies for the quality of the photo - it was a very overcast day!


MARCH 2017

One of those wonderful days when there was not a breath of wind and for once the water on Loch Harray was still.


What a difference a week makes.  The weather changes from day to day.  Here Loch of Stenness is frozen over and there is not a breath of wind.  Peaceful and tranquil!


Orkney can be a fairly challenging place in winter.  Here we have one of the Churchill Barriers with a south east gale taking the waves right over the road.  If there is a combination of high tide with the wind then the barriers are often closed to traffic, so cutting off the South Isles from Orkney Mainland.


Every year I try to get a better picture of greylag geese which are a common feature of the winter landscape - and every year they fly off before I get focused on them properly.  They are winter visitors from Iceland.


This may seem a strange picture to herald a new year but it is to show how mild the winter has been for us.  This is the flower of the gorse bush.  In Scotland it is known as 'the kissing flower', and we say 'When gorse is out of bloom then kissing is out of season.'  In a mild year you can find small pockets of gorse at almost every month of the year - it proves that it is always time for kissing in Scotland!



The year would not be complete without a sunset near the winter solstice when the sun reachest its lowest point in the sky.  At this time of the year sunset is 1515 in the afternoon and sunrise 0906 so the days are very short.  Here the sun is setting behind Ward Hill on Hoy. I do not apologise for putting in so many sunsets and sky views.  It is one of the delights of Orkney to have vast skies and ever changing light.


Delegates come from Grimstad and Hordaland districts of Norway and they bring musicians who play at the tree lighting concert and also in local primary schools.  This year it was 2 talented young guys who play Hardanger Fiddle, the traditional instrument of Norway.  The children loved their concerts and Chris and I very much enjoyed taking them round the schools and listening to them play.


The beginning of December heralds our Christmas season with our tree lighting ceremony inside and outside St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall.  The tree comes from Norway and we celebrate with a St Lucy procession  A young girl is chosen to lead the procession crowned with candles [battery operated these days].  She has attendants and elves to help her.


One of the bonuses of having so many rain showers chasing each other across the sky and days of rainbows.

OCTOBER sunsets get a little more stormy


Coming to the end of the harvest now.  It has been a good summer so far for the farmers.  Here the tractor is turning a field of cut clover.


It is nearly the autumn equinox when the days are of equal length.  The sun sets through the middle of the Ring of Brodgar as seen from the Comet Stone.


This is the time of year when the heather starts to flower.  It is such a strange plant. It looks half dead for most of the year and then produces this mass of fragrant pink mauve flowers at the beginning of August.


JULY 2016

Puffin time.  Our most iconic summer visitors are in a bit short supply this year but we managed to find these guys on the north side of the island. With apologies for the inadaquate photo - next project is a better camera.

JUNE 2016

Time of the summer solstice. I make no apologies for including another sunset photo.  Orkney's big skies make sunset a special time. The sun sets in Orkney at 1030 pm and it never really gets dark.  It rises again at 4 am.

JUNE 2016

This is the time for flowers in Orkney.  Here are bluebells in Happy Valley wood, but there are flowers everywhere along the roadsides.

MAY 2016

Our summer bird visitors are arriving to breed.  I think that the plaintive and distinctive call of the curlew is one of the sounds of summer.

APRIL 2016

Poppies Weeping Window.  This stunning art installation at St Magnus Cathedral will be here until June 12th.  It is part of the UK arts programme for the First World War centenary.  It was originally part of the installation 'Blood Swept the Lands' at the Tower of London in 2014.  Orkney was the home of the Royal Navy'sGgrand Fleet and on 31st May Orkney will host the UK's official commemoration for the centenary of the Battle of Jutland which was the largest and most decisive naval battle of World War I.

MARCH 2016

Spring always comes later to Orkney than other parts of Scotland.  Here are snowdrops in the garden of Kirbister Farm Museum.


As always we have had several gales this winter.  When the wind subsides we still have the swell bringing the waves crashing into the shore as here at Birsay on the north west corner of Orkney.


I usually say that Orkney does not get much snow, but here the Ring of Brodgar was transformed into a magical landscape with snow lying for several days.



Rather than talk about the gales and rain of which we have had far too much over the last couple of weeks, I am posting a photo to show that Orkney can be stunning in winter.  A day by Loch of Harray with wonderful cloud reflections in the still water.


One of Kirkwall's most cherished traditions is the Ba'.  This is a communual football game played through the streets of the town on Christmas and New Year's Day.  New balls are hand made each year and are much prized trophies. No limit to the number who can play and the only rule is that there are no rules! I posted a picture last year of the boarded up shop fronts to protect their windows.


The sun is beginning to shine down the 36' long entrance passage to Maeshowe chambered tomb  It only happens for 6 weeks around the Winter Solstice on 22st December and it is one of the most magical things I have ever experienced.


A December winter Solstice sunset over the hills of Hoy. The sun sets behind Ward hill [on the left] and shines into Maeshowe Tomb as it does so.


The first weekend in December is the tree lighting ceremony in Kirkwall.  The tree is a gift from Norway.  Here a group of local school children play as part of the concert in St Magnus Cathedral helf to celebrate it.

November 2015

All change. The first gale of the winter, powered the incoming tide under the Brig O Waithe into Loch of Stenness.  At low tide the loch flows the other way towards the sea.

October 2015 

This is the time of the return of the greylag geese who have spent the summer in Iceland. Here they are feeding beside Loch of Stenness along with a flock of starlings.


Proving that we do sometimes get blue skies in Orkney!  I am with a group outside the Italian chapel.


Horses and riders being judged at the Dounby Agricultural Show.  It is a time when everyone gets together to meet and celebrate the farming community.  This year the weather has been so wet that a couple of the shows have been cancelled.

July 2015

The town of Stromness celebrates the beginning of Shopping week with a procession of horse riders round the boundaries of the town.  There are more pictures of Shopping Week under July 2014.

June 2015

Sunset is at 1030 pm at the longest day of the year and it never really gets properly dark.

















MAY 2015

17th May is Norwegian Constitution day and is celebrated in Orkney with a procession from the harbour to St Magnus Cathedral.

17th MAY 2015

Norwegians, some in national costume come and join us in the procession with the flags of Norway, the UK, Scotland and Orkney.

APRIL 2015

I have been talking about spring - but here we are at the end of April with the Hoy hills covered in snow.  Well Orkney is only 8 degrees south of the Arctic circle so maybe we shouldn't be surprised.


Colour seems to come suddenly back to Orkney in spring and it mostly seems to be yellow!  Daffodils have been planted along many of the roads, some to celebrate the Millenium in 2000.  The result is beautiful.


APRIL 2015

The wild version of the daffodils is the shy spring primrose which peeks out from the grassy banks at the side of the road.  It is a paler yellow and not so showy, but to me it means that winter should be at last behind.

APRIL 2015

Orkney schools are very supportive of music education.  Tuition is free with free loan of instruments.  Every year there is a joint schools concert in Kirkwall with young musicians from all over Orkney playing in string and wind orchestras.  This year 208 talented young musicians entertained an audience of over 600. 

MARCH 2015

20th March we had an almost complete exclipse of the sun.  Unfortunately there is not going to be a repeat performance until 2090 in Britain, but it was a very strange experience.  Because it was half cloudy it allowed me to take this photo.

MARCH 2015

These fellows made me really do a double take when we passed them on Deerness in East Mainland Orkney. They are alpacas - originally from the Andes but looking very much at home in Orkney.

MARCH 2015

One of the first signs of spring. Gorse is a very hardy and prickly shrub with honey scented yellow flowers. It can be blasted by salt laden gales all winter and if the weather is mild will come into early flower.



Winter is the time for craft work.  Chris has just finished his first traditional Orkney straw backed chair.  These chairs are unique to Orkney and from being farm furniture are now sought after collector's pieces.


Happy New Year!

January has arrived with almost continuous storms powering in from the west over the Atlantic.  The Churchill Barriers, built during World War II to protect Scapa Flow are closed when waves driven by wind wash over them at high tide.  This means that cars can no longer use the road and the islands to the south become islands again.



A unique tradition in Kirkwall is the Ba'.  It is a mass football game played on Christmas Day and New Year's day through the streets of Kirkwall.  There is no limit to the numbers who play in the teams and the only rule is that there are no rules. The games can last up to 5 hours.  The local shops and houses all board up their windows in case the mass of men struggling for possession of the ba' [ball] crash through the glass.


The first week of December sees the start of the tree lighting ceremonies.  In Kirkwall there is a concert in St Magnus Cathedral to celebrate the tree which is a gift from Hordaland county in Norway. Norwegian musicians, traditional fiddle orchestra and aschool choir welcomed the tree.


There are seven cities in Britain which have the gift of a Christmas tree but Orkney is unique in Britain in that it has gifts of two trees.  One is placed inside the cathedral and one outside in the square.


Part of the concert is a St Lucy ceremony, which originated in Scandinavia.  A girl is chosen to represent St Lucy and, with a crown of candles, parades with her attendants through the church.  Nowadays the candles are battery operated but the effect in the darkened church is quite magical.


The sun sets against the hills of Hoy at the most southerly point in its yearly journey.  This was important to the neolithic people of Orkney as shown by the setting sun shining down the 36 foot passage of Maeshowe tomb to illuminate the chamber. It is as magical experience now as it must have been 5,000 years ago.  Then as now it is a sign that we have reached the shortest day of the year and from now the days can only get longer.


In November the sun sets against the west side of the island of Hoy.  I am rather fond of sunsets and Orkney does have its fair share of spectacular ones.


Summer ends early in Orkney.  By September we are losing our summer visiting birds such as swallows who fly south to the warmth of Africa.  We get a different set of visitors from the north. Practically the whole goose population of Greenland spends the winter here - around 70,000.


This October brought the first of the autumn storms.  The waves batter the north coast at Birsay.




It is the equinox and the sun is slipping round the horizon again.  Here it is setting over Stromness with the hills of Hoy to the left.


The Dounby Show is a highlight of the farming year in West Mainland Orkney. Cattle, sheep and poultry competitions, horse competitions, sheep shearing and chain saw woodcarving demonstrations, fun fair and stalls - something for everyone.



JULY 2014

From July 16th to August 22nd is the annual archaeological excavation at Ness of Brodgar.  They have uncovered beautiful walling on huge neolithic structures which are changing many ideas of the neolithic in Britain.  An enormous 'Neolithic Cathedral' has been uncovered - but you can only see it for 6 weeks while the dig is going on.  At other times of the year it is covered up.  See the August edition of National Geographic Magazine for the full story.




JULY 2014


Shopping week is a highlight of the summer in Stromness.  Started to promote local shops, it has developed into a week of concerts and community events, designed to attract all ages.  The Shopping Week Queen is chosen by her class at Stromness Academy and arrives by the local lifeboat to open the proceedings.

JULY 2014

A concert by the West Mainland Fiddle and Accordian Society was held in the courtyard of Stromness Pier Arts Centre as part of the Shopping Week festivities.  Orkney has a wonderful tradition of music tuition and a great heritage of traditional music. All children get free tuition and groups like this have members of all ages.

JULY 2014

Another popular Shopping Week activity is the crab catching competition in Stromness harbour.

JUNE 2014

The northern marsh orchid is found only in northern Scotland and is common on Orkney.  Although it is small it brightens up roadsides in June.

JUNE 2014


The calls of oyster catchers are one of the sounds of early summer.  Birds of the shoreline, they can also be seen in flocks feeding in fields. 

This mute swan turns her eggs on a hot June day.  She nests every year in the same place right beside the road and doesn't seem to be bothered with the traffic which stops to look at her.



Orkney is a riot of colour now.  Here poppies grow wild along the roadside.

MAY 2014

17th May is Norwegian Independence Day in Norway and celebrated too in Orkney.  This year is special as it is the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian Constitution.  Many Norwegians come across the North Sea to celebrate with us.  The highlight of the day is the 'Tog', a procession with town band, people in national costume and lots of flags. Anyone can join in the walk from the harbour, through the town of Kirkwall to the Cathedral.

MARCH 2014


Late March and the first lambs are out in the fields.  The air is full of sky larks singing their hearts out and the daffodils which line the roads are coming into bloom.  Spring is coming to Orkney.

MARCH 2014

The colours of the landscape gradually change as ploughing begins.


Many birds migrate to Orkney in winter.  Around 70,000 greylag geese visit from Iceland and Greenland.

A family of mute swans enjoy winter sunshine on Loch of Stenness.  These are resident.  Orkney also welcomes the whole population of Icelandic whooper swans in winter - the main difference is in the colour of their bills.