A trip to Orkney

I recently made a short trip to Orkney and all I know is that I have to go back. As those who have been to this stunning island know too well, it takes a while to get there but even as you make the crossing on the ferry, you feel you’re going somewhere really quite special. As I caught my first glimpse of the Old Man of Hoy, with the spectacular view opening up across the Atlantic, I wanted the boat to just stay there so that I could watch the sunset against the orange glow of the red sandstone.

We stayed in a lovely guest house in Kirkwall, Orkney’s capital city. Here, St. Magnus Cathedral stands majestic and still. As we drove around all the main sites, the weather remained sunny with a warm wind. As we visited the Neolithic standing stones, the Ring of Brodgar, the Standing Stones of Stenness and Skara Brae, Europe’s most complete Neolithic village, I felt a little strange. Being designated a Unesco World heritage site means these places are used to regular visitors and there were a few tourists scattered across the hills taking photos. But a small part of me felt that I was intruding, that these were sacred places that continued to hold meaning.

Amazing landscapes, dynamic changing weather and extraordinary wildlife and I’m not even an outdoors sort of person. Almost everywhere you look, the sea, lochs and farmland can be quite mesmerising. And after a couple of days here, I began to see why so many people fall in love with such relatively remote places. I’m sure living here has many challenges including housing, jobs and digital connectivity but island life shouldn’t be seen as an escape rather a completely different way of living. I’m going to try and return to visit some of the other islands in this archipelago. I want to feel the slight dread of the waves crashing against the cliffs, to catch the northern lights in that expansive sky and then simply to stand still and watch the sea.