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Ferries-Airport-Car Hire-News-General-Archaeology

Orcadian Links Page

Ferries are the most used method of getting here. During the Winter and even occasionally in the summer months these sailing’s can be badly disrupted by weather. Book your passage in advance as soon as possible. If you are flying then you have to arrive at Kirkwall through BA. You can now fly into both Aberdeen and Inverness using a selection of budget airlines but the last leg will have to be booked direct through BA.

Unless camping and backpacking, then to fully enjoy Orkney you must have access to a car while here, public transport is patchy at best and using taxis would soon become very expensive. Driving in Orkney is a pleasure but the the mileage rises rapidly without notice. Even super-fit cyclists would benefit from car access to get about. The main Tourism portal can be found at the official VisitOrkney site.

Northlink Ferries Took the Scottish Executive subsidised lifeline Orkney and Shetland vehicle ferry contract from P&O in 2002. For complex reasons the contract is being re-tendered at present, so some changes may occur in 2006. The Ships used by Northlink are brand new and fitted out to very high modern standards. The Hamnavoe sails from Scrabster to Stromness 3 times daily. The journey time is 90 minutes. The Hrossey sails from Aberdeen to Kirkwall four times weekly as part of the Shetland-Kirkwall-Aberdeen service, and the journey time is around six-seven hours. The Hrossey usually arrives in Kirkwall around Midnight. You can travel to the departure ports by Citylink bus if you are not using a vehicle.

Pentland Ferries Are a private enterprise ferry company started in 2000 by local businessman Andrew Banks. The Pentalina B sails from Gills Bay to St. Margaret’s hope three times daily and is known as the short sea crossing. The prices are competitive and journey time is around 60 minutes. The Pentalina B is a well serviced, if well used, boat and has been very successful in taking significant market share from their larger subsidised competitor.

John O’Groats Ferry A privately run passenger ferry operates daily during the summer from John O'Groats to Burwick on the southern tip of Orkney. It takes about 45 minutes to cross the Pentland Firth. No vehicles taken, but cycles allowed. Buses to Kirkwall connect with the ferry. They also manage the Orkney Bus service from Inverness-Kirkwall.

Orkney Ferries Run the inter-island Ro-Ro vehilcle ferry service linking the Mainland to thirteen of the smaller islands. Certain sailing’s are very popular in the Summer (Hoy) so should be booked well in advance.

Kirkwall Airport  HIAL Kirkwall airport was rebuilt in 2001 and is now a very comfortable and modern place to be. Real time flight information is available. It is effectively a BA terminal as only BA fly into Kirkwall from the Mainland. Loganair are now subcontracted by BA to manage both the main National Scottish flights and the inter-island service which flies to most of the smaller inhabited islands. They offer an Orkney Adventure package which is good value and good fun to do when you are here.

Local Car Hire

In Orkney is easy and convenient but you are advised to book as early as you can to guarantee the type of vehicle you want and availability. These are the main operators. 

News and Festivals

Orkney supports two local papers the Orcadian and Orkney Today. Both have very well designed and content rich web sites well worth spending some time at to find out what is going on. You can also listen to the on-line streamed BBC Radio Orkney’s daily 30 minute News program which requires RealPlayer to be installed on your machine.

Festivals are big time in Orkney. The internationally acclaimed St.Magnus Festival (16 to 21 June 2006) has become one of Britain 's most highly regarded and adventurous arts events, hosted by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. 

The Orkney International Science Festival (31st August -6th September 2006) is an intelligent and eclectic look at ancient and modern technologies, metaphysics, and science.

The Festival season starts with 24th Folk Festival (25th-28th May 2006) - A fantastic multi venue folk music festival, top rated bands, superb music and very friendly people.


There are many sites dedicated to Orkney which can be found through Google. These are the main portals or top sites.

For the History and Culture of the Islands, Orkneyjar sets high class standards. For images of Orkney visit Charles Taits site. A comprehensive if slightly badly designed digest site can be found at Undiscovered Scotland. Joanne Winters guide site is very well respected. A useful general Orkney Link collection has been put together. A very well designed Orcadian directory of local business information is available together with the first class Orkney Communities web site which is worth investigating.

At a personal level I recommend Malcolm and Rachel’s very interesting fivesenses web site and my good friend Andrew’s Applepot site for luverly pot stuff.


You are best advised to follow your fingers as far as web surfing is concerned as a great deal of information is out there; these sites should get you started. 

  • Ornkneyjar. Famous and award winning site dedicated to Orkney Culture, History and Heritage.
  • The Orkney WHS Research Agenda. Published 2005. Current position of the Orkney WHS. This is a must read for any one more than casually interested in Archaeology, PDF documentation on-line or hard copy by request.
  • Stonepages. Paola Arosio & Diego Meozzi show just how a web site based on personal interest can grow into something megalithic.
  • Ancient Scotland Martin McCarthy likewise shows what obsession can lead to.
  • The Modern ANTIQUARIAN is a huge people resource well worth detailed study.


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