The Orkney Islands lie off the north-east corner of Scotland, some 70 islands of which around 20 are inhabited. On the largest island, Mainland, is the capital of the Orkneys, Kirkwall which is around 25 miles from John O’Groat’s. Kirkwall is a ferry port, and was first mentioned in ‘Orkneyinga Saga’ in 1046. It has many fine buildings including the early 12th century St Magnus Cathedral, as well as the ruins of the former Bishop’s Palace and Earl’s Palace.
Much of Mainland is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site as it is the site of Neolithic remains, including standing stones and ruined stone age settlements and monuments. These date from 4,000 years before the Vikings, whose cultural influences remain. Orkney is a welcoming place, proud of its unique character, fresh seafood and warm hospitality.
Scapa Flow, a sheltered mooring in the midst of the islands and former naval base, is a haunt for divers, who can explore the German naval vessels scuttled after the first world war. Scapa Flow is also where a German U-boat sunk HMS Royal Oak in 1939, one of the first acts against British interests of the second world war.
Fishing trips and whale-watching attract visitors, as well as walking, exploring the historical sites and diving.
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