Why visit in the first place? Perhaps the draw of archaeological treasures to be found at every turn is enticing. From the oldest houses in Europe, the Knap of Howar, situated on Papa Westray, to the neolithic village of Skara Brae. From standing stones and circles, an enigma left by the people of the bronze age throughout the islands, to Iron Age brochs; ancient fortresses designed to safely house their people from attack. From Viking runes left in the tomb of Maeshowe and the Viking-built St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, to the Churchill Barriers; massive walls/bridges built between islands to prevent submarine attack in the Second World War, time has left its mark on the Orkney Islands. Bronze Age man, Iron Age man, Vikings and World Wars have all left their runes, still visible today.
Perhaps you might visit for the unspoilt landscape of the islands. For the trout-filled lochs and the bird-filled skies. Perhaps there might be nothing more appealing than walking along an unspoilt beach with white sand beneath your feet, clean air in your lungs and silence all about you. There is also plenty for children to enjoy, and a safe environment for them to enjoy themselves in. At the end of a hard days exploring, imagine a reward of freshly cooked Orkney produce, from our award-winning beef, to our local shellfish and locally grown vegetables. To top it off, imagine a glass of Orkney whisky or beer to end the night.
The local produce does not end with food. Orkney has a thriving craft industry, producing beautiful and unique gifts, from knitwear to Orkney Chairs. Imagine returning home from your visit with jewellery you'll never find on any UK high street and be the envy of all your friends. You'll also return home with stories of hospitality like no other place in the UK. Whatever your reason for visiting you will be looked after well in the Hotels, Bed and Breakfasts, Hostels and Self Catering establishments of Orkney. You will leave changed, now aware of the inescapable magic of the Orkney Islands!
The essence of Orkney's magic, is silence, loneliness, and the deep marvellous rhythms of sea and land, darkness and light.
George Mackay Brown, Letters from Hamnavoe
Ring of Brodgar photo © Jim Adams, St Magnus Cathedral photo © Fraser Dixon, Pebbles on Rackwick beach photo © Fraser Dixon.
All text © Magnus Dixon. GMB extract © The Estate of George Mackay Brown
Thanks to Mark Crook, Jim Adams, Mark Shiner, John Thompson, Leonard Bain, Drew Kennedy, the Hamnavoe Restaurant and the Estate of George Mackay Brown.
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