Interesting Info
The Royal Oak and the remains of the 833 men who lost their lives remain under the waters of Scapa Flow. A giant steel net protects the ship and divers are told to respect the war grave. On the surface, a buoy marks the spot where it lies.
Useful Advice
The Italian Chapel is used for Roman Catholic services - check the press for details
Essential sites to visit
Burray Village
The Italian Chapel
The Churchill Barriers
The Orkney Fossil and Vintage Centre
The Italian Chapel

BlockshipsThe islands of Burray, Lambs Holm and Glimps Holm, and the larger island of South Ronaldsay are unique islands in Orkney in that feel like they are no longer islands. Since World War 2, they have been joined to the Orkney mainland by the Churchill Barriers.

These islands form a protective arm around the natural deep water harbour of Scapa Flow, where the Royal Navy was anchored in both wars. Block ships were sunk between islands as obstacles, to prevent enemy submarine attack, but after the Royal Oak was sunk in World War 2, by a Nazi submarine, the Churchill Barriers were built to block further attacks. These are giant concrete blocks laid, almost haphazardly in appearance, on top of one another to form a wall between islands. A road runs along the top. The barriers were built using labour from Italian prisoners of war, and they also created one of Orkney's most visited attractions. The Italian Chapel was built from two nissan huts, bully beef cans and scrap metal and the immense amount of work required is a testament to their faith. It is beautiful inside and simply must be visited Sand at Barrier Number 4during a trip to Orkney.

Around the barriers are lovely beaches - sand has built up against some of the barriers, especially the east side of barrier number 4, and blockships, previously underwater have now been buried in the sand.

Fishermen can be seen angling from the barriers, and these are good training grounds for novice divers.

On the island of Burray, there is the excellent Orkney Fossil and Vintage Centre which covers the prehistory of Orkney, tens of thousands of years ago, when it was covered by a lake, as well as more recent history. It also has a superb cafe.

Burray village is quite charming and well worth a look. Just started in Burray recently is a new Paintball franchise - so as well as visiting remnants of the war in these south isles you can also take part in a war of your own! To the west of Burray is the island of Hunda, which is attached by it's own barrier. This is a breeding ground for grey seals so keep your eyes peeled for selkies!

George Mackay Brown
Technology gave the sea wolf
That sank its jaws four times in the Royal Oak.
Locked the four gates against the ebb and flow.

Italian prisoners, Glasgow navvies,
Laboured to throw this road across five islands.

George Mackay Brown, Orkney Pictures and Poems

Orkan AdventuresWest Summerlea,
Orkney KW17 2SS
Tel: 07879 296218
Mobile: 07879 296218
Email: orkanadventures1@
Orkan Adventuresspacer
Orkney Paintball, Battlefield Live (light guns), Clay Pigeon Shooting, Golf Driving Range, Marina and Rowing boat hire.

Churchill Barriers photo © Magnus Dixon, Italian Chapel photo © Magnus Dixon, Blockship photo © Magnus Dixon, Barrier No 4 photo © Fraser Dixon.
All text © Magnus Dixon. GMB extract © The Estate of George Mackay Brown.

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