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Orkney experts, I'm at your mercy!

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Orkney experts, I'm at your mercy!

So, I'm taking the Puffin Express Orkney Adenturer to Kirkwall on Sunday, September 23rd and staying the night at the Eastbank House. The next day I'm renting a car and have the isle to myself and am staying at the Hamnavoe B&B (on the ferry) since I need to take the early ferry on Tuesday.

My questions:

* I've looked at all the tourist sites and still can't get a sense of a real driving itinerary for the West Mainland that will get the best of it in. If you had a day to show a friend the best of the West Mainland, how would you drive it? I want to make sure I get a cliff walk in there, as well.

* Any cool, small, unkown boat trips I should know about? When I visited Western Ireland last year, the trip highlight was a small boat out of Doolin that went UNDER the Cliffs of Moher. Would love to try and repeat that experience in Orkney if there is such a thing.

* In Kirkwall, Sunday night, where should I eat and what is the best pub for meeting a local or two and having a pint.

* In Stromness, Monday night, it appears the Hamnavoe is the restaurant. But where should I grab a pint after I check in to the boat?

Thanks!!!! You are all champions!

- jason

Stanley, Falkland...
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1. Re: Orkney experts, I'm at your mercy!

Do you mean you are not sure if you want to see Maes Howe, Ring of Brodgar, Skara Brae etc? There are not that many roads and options and most sites are fairly close together so an itinerary shouldn't be that difficult to work out.

There;s good cliffs near Skara Brae.

By the way - have you heard that a "new" neolithic village has been found (extract below from Times online) -


The remains of a Neolithic settlement discovered in Orkney were hailed yesterday as potentially as important as the Skara Brae village on the islands.

The 2.5 hectare site is believed to date back nearly 5,000 years and to include a complex system of temples and dwellings spread over two fields. The find, at Ness of Brodgar, between the Ring of Brodgar and the Stones of Stenness, will add to the area’s reputation as home to some of the most remarkable archaeological monuments in Europe.


A ferry trip I enjoyed was across Scapa Flow to a great museum on Hoy. I'd also have liked to have sailed around the Flow and found out more about the wrecks and the history, but the museum was good if you have limited time.

I don't know Stromness that well, but its not exactly a big place. I doubt you'll need to walk more than a few hundreds yards to find a good pub.

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2. Re: Orkney experts, I'm at your mercy!


this site should help you.

You should be able to get round all the sites in a day with the car,but you may have to book times at Maese Howe and the Tomb of the Eagles.(just phone ahead.)

The Harbour Inn in Strommness is great for a pint,they also do excellent food in there too.

In Kirkwall I found the West End hotel an excellent place for a chat and drink with the locals and the resturant there is not bad.

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3. Re: Orkney experts, I'm at your mercy!

I think Gus means the Ferry Inn in Stromness, The Royal Hotel Stromness also does excellant food.

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4. Re: Orkney experts, I'm at your mercy!

I did Goanjock,when you get to my age the memory slips every now and then.I must admit the lunch I had there of homemade cream of chicken soup and a plate of lovely fresh ham sandwiches was superb.

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5. Re: Orkney experts, I'm at your mercy!

Something you might be able to pop in on


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6. Re: Orkney experts, I'm at your mercy!

As others have said you'll get round all the main sites in a day. My recommendations would be Skata Brae and Maes Howe. There are cliff paths to the north and south of Skara Brae and my favourite is Yesnaby to the south.

The following company does boat tours from Stromness including a trip to see the Old Man of Hoy - http://www.outwestcharters.co.uk/


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7. Re: Orkney experts, I'm at your mercy!

Hi Jintsjason : You asked about "cool boat trips" and there is a really great one but it will take 3 hours out of your one full day in Orkney, so you'll have to decide if you want to do it. I'd say that next to Skara Brae, it was our second best highlight of our 3 day stay in Orkney - and that's saying a lot, because Orkney has such fantastic sites to visit.

Keith Bichan, the skipper, takes you out on Scapa Flow to view the scuttled German fleet, with the aid of the Roving Eye, an underwater robotic camera that he operates from above. Keith is a great historian who obviously loves his work and who is also a dedicated environmentalist. He and his American wife, Kathy, also run a B and B but we could not stay there as they had no vacancies at that time ; Kathy gave us their friend Lynda Baird's address and so we ended up staying at the Houton Bay Lodge, run by Lynda and Alfred ( a lovely place in Orphir, right on Scapa Flow and very close to the dock).

We spent 3 very memorable hours with Keith and a boisterous bunch of sailors from the Faroe Islands who had actually sailed all the way to Orkney on a brief holiday and had come to Orphir to take the same trip. We saw the wreck of the Dresden through the camera , viewing it from the small but comfortable cabin. Keith showed us a video about the German and British fleets in the World Wars, before we anchored at the spot and watched the heavy camera being dropped into the sea.

Stopped at Hoy after that, spent some time exploring the cool museum there ( full of memorabilia and artifacts from both world wars) and had tea at the small tearoom adjacent - that was another unforgettable part of our trip.. the tearoom was not open but they had just had a big bake sale the day before to raise money for the local school, so they invited us to partake of whatever was left over and if we wished, to simply drop some coins inside a box. We all had tea and various scones and cakes in the most congenial atmosphere. The Faroe Islanders didn't speak much English and we didn't speak Faroese of course, so we smiled and laughed a lot together! On the way back, Keith took us close to basking seals and pointed out various islands and all sorts of birdlife including guillemots and arctic sea terns. We spent most of the trip standing near Keith as he piloted the boat, talking about everything under the sun. We were so impressed by him and his strong sense of the world and its people as one. Keith was the person who told us "We're aa jock Tamson's bairns" when we exchanged notes on Skara Brae and Chichen Itza. The price for the boat trip was nothing compared to the experience; Keith is one of those rare guys who is passionate about his work, his family, about the oceans and earth and about nature conservation; money is not at all his prime motivator.

We were so happy we met him :-).

And, yes, we loved the guy and we loved the boat trip but we are not related to him or his business!

Here is the link:http://www.rovingeye.co.uk/

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8. Re: Orkney experts, I'm at your mercy!

"Jock Tamson" - sorry.

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9. Re: Orkney experts, I'm at your mercy!

My favorite place was Yesnaby, too. I could have stayed there the whole day... When I think of Orkney, this is the first and foremost memory that comes up immediately.

Have a look:





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10. Re: Orkney experts, I'm at your mercy!

The mainland is pretty small - you can easily fit in the main sites in a day. A good cliff walk is at Skippi Geo - walk to the whale bone and the fishermans huts, or as far as you like. Tjhe sae is unbelieivably blue there. There is a car park at the start. Another good cliff walk is at Marwick Head by the Kitchener Memorial. The brough of Birsay is well worth a visit - it's fun walking across the causeway to it at low tide.

If you fancy a beach walk, the beach at Aikerness near Evie, overlooking Eynhallow Sound, is lovely (my favourite). You will probably have seals for company, swimming alongside you as you walk along.

I second the recommendation for the Ferry Inn in Stromness.

I know your time is limited but try and fit in a drive across the Churchill Barriers to St Margarets Hope, too.

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