TOURS AND DESTINATIONS

Cloud reflections on Loch of Harray

 

WE PLAN YOUR TOUR TO SUIT YOUR INDIVIDUAL INTERESTS.

Here are some ideas...........

 

 

 

A HALF DAY TOUR OF @ 4 HOURS COULD INCLUDE :-

 

UNSTAN TOMB [a smaller version of Maeshowe],

 

STANDING STONES OF STENNESS [the oldest stone circle in Britain],

 

RING OF BRODGAR [the third largest stone circle in Britain],

 

SKARA BRAE NEOLITHIC VILLAGE [the best preserved neolithic village in Europe]. 

 

We would also visit the Italian chapel and drive along Scapa Flow looking at the Orkney landscapes.

 

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THE STANDING STONES OF STENNESS
TTHE RING OF BRODGAR
SKARA BRAE NEOLITHIC VILLAGE, 5,000 YEARS OLD
UNSTAN CHAMBERED TOMB

OTHER OPTIONS FOR A FULL DAY COULD BE SOME OF THE FOLLOWING :-

 

Maeshowe has moved their ticket office to a new visitor centre in Stenness village. A shuttle bus takes you to the tomb itself. [about a 5 minute journey].

 

 

Maeshowe is @5,000 years old and is one of the finest chambered tombs in north west Europe. It has the best collection of Viking graffitti outside Scandinavia.  Historic Scotland do their own tours.

 

Note:  Run by Historic Scotland, there are limited spaces on each tour.  The entrance passage is 12m [36'] long and 1.15m  [3' 9"] high, so you need to stoop to walk along it.  Once inside it is 4m [16'] high and there is electric light.

 

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NESS OF BRODGAR ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXCAVATION

Monumental buildings have been discovered which are changing ideas about Orkney in the neolithic. 

 

Note:  The dig will be open to the public from 5th July to 25th August.

There is general access to the site and also guided tours by archaeologists.  Access is free but donations are gratefully received to help fund the dig.

 

 

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IRON AGE BROCH OF GURNESS 

 

A Broch is a fortified round tower.  Built by upwardly mobile Iron age leaders as a statement of position and power, it dates from around 100BC. 

 

Note: Run by Historic Scotland there is an entrance charge.

 

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BROUGH OF BIRSAY

View from the tidal island of Birsay off the north west coast of Mainland Orkney.  It was settled by the Vikings in the 9th century and there are the remains of a monastery and viking longhouses. 

 

Note Access to the island itself is across a causeway at low tide. However even if the tide is full there are dramatic views of cliffs and rock formations.

 

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KIRBUSTER FARM MUSEUM

 is a very rare example of a 'firehoose' - a farmhouse with central hearth and no chimney. Animals were on one side of the hearth and the family on the other.  Parts of it date to the 16th century.  It is very atmospheric with a peat fire burning in the hearth. Lots of buildings to explore.  It even has a putting green.

 

 

Note: Entrance is free. 

 

 

 

 

 

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CORRIGAL FARM MUSEUM

shows a slightly more sophisticated farmhouse which has a chimney and proper fireplace.  The outbuildings include byre, stable and threshing barn.  It tells a vivid story of farming life from late 18th century.

 

Note: Entrance is free

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BARONY MILLS

One of the few remaining working water mills in Scotland.  It still mills bere meal, an ancient type of barley, which is still used in traditional recipes in Orkney today. You can buy delicious beremeal shortbread.

 

 

 

Note: Entrance is free, but donations welcomed as it is run by a trust.

 

 

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KIRKWALL - THE MERKET CROSS

Kirkwall is the largest town in Orkney. It is compact and easy to explore with many shops selling Orkney crafts and produce.

SAINT MAGNUS CATHEDRAL

built in 1137, in Orkney's capital town of Kirwall.  It is a magnificent memorial to the wealth and power of the Viking Earls and dedicated to St Magnus, treacherously murdered by his cousin Haakon.

 

 

Note:  Entrance is free but donations to the cathedral are appreciated.

 

 

 

 

EARL'S PALACE

in Kirkwall was built in the 17th century by the notorious Scottish Orkney Earl Patrick Stewart who came to a sticky end. 

 

Now a ruin, it is an extravagant testament to his ambitions. 

 

Note: Historic Scotland with an entrance fee.

 

 

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STROMNESS

This is Orkney's second largest town and has many original houses which follow the shoreline along a tightly packed winding main street.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ITALIAN CHAPEL

A poignantly beautiful and peaceful memorial.  Built by the Italian prisoners of war in 1942, who worked to build the Churchill barriers, and cherished today by the people of Orkney.

 

Note: Free entrance but donations towards upkeep are appreciated.

 

 

 

 

 

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CHURCHILL BARRIERS

bring Orkney's history right up to the present day.  They were built to defend Scapa Flow from attack in World War II. Today they connect the south isles giving them direct access to Kirkwall. 

 

 

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TOMB OF THE EAGLES

This is a little further afield on the island of South Ronaldsay.  Here you can meet our neolithic ancestors in the visitor centre and take the mile walk out to the clifftop tomb with its spectacular sea views.

 

Note:  It is privately owned and there is an entrance charge.  The walk out is one mile in length on a flat track.  To get in either pull yourself on the trolley or it is high enough to go in on hands and knees.  Once inside it is high enough to stand up and there is a glass roof.

 

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LANDSCAPE AND WILDLIFE

The landscapes of Orkney change colour with the seasons. Lower lying ground has a patchwork of fields, green in spring, and golden at harvest.  

 

This is where we go to show you cliffs.  Here at North Side you can see puffins in June and July.  It is a safe viewing place with a fence at the edge of the cliff.

 

Spring brings daffodils and primroses turning the road sides yellow, and summer brings splashes scarlet  poppies. Rounded hills are a blanket of purple heather in August.

 

Orkney has abundant wildlife including birds such as swans, geese, herons, oystercatchers, lapwings and larks. If the tide is right there will be seals basking on the shore.  If we are really lucky we might see a hen harrier or a short eared owl.  These endangered species are rare in the UK but are doing well in Orkney.

 

 

Curlews are becoming rare in the UK mainland but are often seen in Orkney.  Their plaintive call is one of the sounds of spring.

Seals are Orkney's largest mammel.  Here a harbour seal is basking on the shore.

THE GLOUP

is a spectacular collapsed sea cave on the Deerness peninsula.

FARMING is a major part of the islands' economy.  There are more cattle than people here.

 

These lovely guys are Highland cattle, the original indiginous cattle of Scotland.  They are hardy enough to stay out in the fields throughout the winter and there are a few of them to see on Orkney.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CRAFTS

The Orkney Craft Trail shows the many talented craft workers who can be visited in the islands.

 

Shiela Fleet is one of Scotland's leading jewelry designers.  We can visit her workshop and studio and watch the jewelry being hand enamelled and finished.

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Wool comes from the unique North Ronaldsay sheep, and yarn and garments can be bought in several shops.

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Award winning Orkney Beer is produced at ORKNEY BREWERY - They have tours to show how it is made and ofcourse you can have a taste.  There is cafe which offers several local products.

 

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And ofcourse we must not forget Orkney Whisky!

Tours of Highland Park Distillery, the most northerly distillery in Scotland, can be booked. A visit  includes a 'peedie'  [Orkney dialect for 'small'] dram.

 

There are also tours of SCAPA DISTILLERY which is a very different but equally delicious whisky.  It is smaller and sometimes less busy on cruise ship days. Visits also include a peedie dram.

 

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STORIES

Tours aren't just about visiting places. 

Orkney is full of characters like the notorious Pirate Gow and the arctic explorer John Rae

 

There are stones that dance and stones that drink. 

 

The seas were full of mysterious creatures like the fearsome Finmen or the beautiful and seductive Selkies

 

The land was inhabited by crafty Trows

 

We can meet them all on our journey.

 

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Midsummer sunset over Ness of Brodgar