Tag Archives: Orkney Islands

City [Island] Spotlight: Orkney Islands

10 Nov

I was lucky enough to spend some time recently in the lovely Orkney Islands about a week ago.  If you have any interest in the outdoors, it is definitely a place you should visit.  Orkney is a place where the sea and sky are so big (and so far north) you can just make out the curvature of the Earth in a way I’ve never seen before.

A pleasant walk along the sea cliffs at Marwick Head.

A lovely walk along the sea cliffs at Marwick Head and the Kitchener Memorial

Orkney has some of the oldest permanent human settlements in the world. (They’re from the Neolithic era- some 5,000 years old!)

Skara Brae- the best preserved Neolithic settlement in Western Europe

Skara Brae- the best preserved Neolithic settlement in Western Europe

The stones above are actually the walls of houses.  Pretty impressive for the Stone Age! Orkney also has an impressive array of standing stones (like the famous Stone Henge in Wiltshire, England), some of which pop out of farm fields and literally have fences around them to keep the sheep from leaning up against them.  In addition, there are  Neolithic tombs; one of which looks like a random grass hill (also in the middle of a field)-Maeshowe- and the other of which requires entry on your belly on a skateboard-like apparatus because the entrance is so low-Tomb of the Eagles.

Unnecessary sign near Tomb of the Eagles

Sign at cliff edge near Tomb of the Eagles

There is far more to do on this small set of islands than can be done in 4 days, but I highly recommend making the long trek north; it’s well worth it.

A reminder for those of you who are not familiar with Scottish weather- bring a waterproof jacket with a hood!! Orkney is SUPER windy and when it’s raining, an umbrella is no match for the high speed gusts.  We were told that you can always spot a tourist because they are the only people crazy enough to be carrying an umbrella.

Judgmental Cow

Judgmental Cow

This highly amusing, judgmental-looking cow we ran into near Marwick Head completes this Island Spotlight (because what would a City Spotlight section without a funny animal).

Have you ever been to Orkney? What was your experience?