Orkney comprises over 70 islands, around 20 are inhabited. The largest island, known as the Mainland, has an area of 202 square miles, making it the sixth-largest Scottish island. The main town is Kirkwall. Internal ferries are used to connect with the main island. There are several ways to travel to Orkney and on the Scrabster to Stromness ferry there is a distinct sense of excitement when the ferry approaches the Island of Hoy and the Old Man of Hoy is visible. It must be one of the most photographed icons of Orkney and it certainly does not disappoint. Most people travel to the island by ferry, from Caithness and also from Aberdeen. You can also fly into the main island.
Orkney has many historical sites to visit including Skara Brae, a Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site in the care of Historic Scotland. It was unearthed after a wild storm in 1850 and explored by the Laird of Skaill, William Watt. When you visit Skara Brae you can see pictures of the original excavation carried out by William Watt and later work on the site. There is also a reconstruction of the original central building where you can get a sense of the atmosphere the original people would have when living in the village in the past.
Skara Brae is on of the oldest, well preserved farming villages dating from over 5000 years ago. The site is now a World Heritage Site and is looked after by Historic Scotland.
Skara Brae in Orkney
Skara Brae is is a neolithic semi-subterranean village over 5000 years old that survives in remarkable condition as it was preserved under sand dunes for thousands of years. In the winter of 1850 it was uncovered by a large storm that blew away the sand covering the ancient buildings as well as a large midden (refuse dump). The Laird, William Watt explored the exposed midden and the buildings to discover the what is now Skara Brae.
Orkney is well known for the brochs and stone circles that can be found on the Orkney Mainland and on the Orkney islands. One of the most popular stone circles is the Ring of Brogar overlooking the Loch of Harray. It is a scenic area and from the Ring of Brogar stone circle you can see the Stones of Stenness.
The Orkney islands are full of wildlife and I was astounded to come across a duck on it's nest while walking around the stone circle at the Ring of Brogar, so it is advisable to keep any dogs on a lead and also to keep to the mown grass paths for visitors to see the stone circle or you may accidentally walk too close to a nesting bird.