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exploringorkney posts

Visiting Orkney: The Practicalities

Visiting Orkney: The Practicalities Aug 6th, 2012 at 1:00PM: A week in Orkney was not enough. These 70+ islands just north of Scotland have a rich history and vibrant natural life. In a week my family and I explored stone circles, spotted seals on the beach, climbed cliffs to see nesting birds, and walked on uninhabited islands. Despite a very full seven days, we saw less than a tenth of the Orkney Islands and I have a feeling less than one percent of...

My First Experience Driving On The Left Side Of The Road

My First Experience Driving On The Left Side Of The Road Aug 4th, 2012 at 10:00AM: The best way to see the Orkney Islands in Scotland is by car. The buses don't go to many of the most important attractions and don't correspond well to the ferry schedule. On the other hand, distances are fairly short, so I decided to rent a car for a couple of days. The only problem was, I had never driven on the left side of the road. That fact and my Arizona driver's license didn't faze...

A Look Inside A Scotch Whisky Distillery

A Look Inside A Scotch Whisky Distillery Aug 1st, 2012 at 10:00AM: I must admit that despite my name I've never been much into whiskey. Rum? Yes. Beer? Yes. Wine? Yes. Absinthe? Yes. Mead? Oh yes! But whiskey has never really been on my radar. A taste of 25-year-old Scapa whiskey changed all that. Scapa prides itself as being the second northernmost Scotch whisky distillery in the world. Highland Park Distillery beats it by less than a mile. There are more...

Beauty In Wartime: The Italian Chapel In Orkney

Beauty In Wartime: The Italian Chapel In Orkney Jul 30th, 2012 at 11:30AM: The remote Orkney Islands north of Scotland became important during both world wars. With German U-boats prowling the Atlantic, shipping between the United Kingdom and North America was diverted as far north as possible and passed by Orkney. The islands were protected by a series of bunkers and forts that can still be seen today. The remote islands also proved to be a good place to put...

Eynhallow: Visiting Orkney's Haunted Isle

Eynhallow: Visiting Orkney's Haunted Isle Jul 29th, 2012 at 9:00AM: Orkney is an ancient land where prehistoric monuments still dominate the landscape, along with the wide sky and surrounding sea. Plenty of strange stories have grown up about certain places. Some of the strangest have to do with a little island called Eynhallow. Eynhallow has been deserted since 1851. Considering that it's a little less than 200 acres of treeless grass and rocky cliffs...

Shapinsay: Visiting A Wee Scottish Island

Shapinsay: Visiting A Wee Scottish Island Jul 27th, 2012 at 2:00PM: No trip to Orkney is complete without seeing some of the smaller islands. They offer plenty of natural and historic sights as well as peaceful solitude. Little Shapinsay can be seen from the main harbor at Kirkwall, but visitors often overlook it. Even though it only measures six miles long at its longest and has only about 300 residents, it's served by a regular car ferry from Kirkwall. My...

Prehistoric Tombs And Viking Graffiti In Orkney, Scotland

Prehistoric Tombs And Viking Graffiti In Orkney, Scotland Jul 26th, 2012 at 11:30AM: There's something about death. Graveyards, war memorials, mummified monks, Purgatory Museums ... if there's dead people involved, I'm there. That's why my 6-year-old son found himself crawling through prehistoric tombs with his dad on remote Scottish islands for his summer vacation. He loved it, of course. He still has that wonderful sense of adventure children should keep into adulthood....

The Heart Of Neolithic Orkney

The Heart Of Neolithic Orkney Jul 25th, 2012 at 12:00PM: For reasons that aren't very clear, the Orkney Islands just north of Scotland were the happening place to be 5000 years ago. The temperature was warmer in Orkney back then, with forest and deer in addition to the abundant bird and marine life that still mark Orkney out as a natural wonderland. The Neolithic (Late Stone Age) people farmed the land and hunted game. They also built some of the...

Exploring Orkney: Scotland's Rugged Northern Isles

Exploring Orkney: Scotland's Rugged Northern Isles Jul 24th, 2012 at 1:00PM: In my school library in Canada, there was a curious old volume printed in 1909 called "The Orkney Book." It was written for schoolchildren living in the Orkney Islands off the north coast of Scotland and told them about their land, culture and history. This book fascinated me with its stories of Viking warriors and mysterious stone circles. I studied the grainy black and white photos of those...

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