10 May, 2016
The Orkney Islands. An often overlooked set of islands at the northern tip of Scotland, mentioned in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
Still untouched by the likes of large restaurant and shop chains, the 70 mostly uninhabited Orkney islands are a magical place relatively untouched by time. During the harsh winters you'll find force-12 storms, choppy seas, seal pups and the Northern Lights while summer months bring nearly 24-hour daylight, otters and even a glimpse of how the first inhabitants lived with the pre-Viking tomb Maeshowe lighting up on summer solstice.
When to go
Between April and June, the towns come alive with ploughing matches, Scottish dances, music, folk festivals and more. Summer can be a little more crowded with cruise ships making stops. The real magic of Orkney lies with the locals.
Who to take with you
Most likely to bump into...
A curious seal having a peek out of the water, like the friendly local Orcadians they want to know Where Ye Fae? (Where you're from and who you are).
The sublime and melancholic cliffs of Yesnaby. There is nothing but sea from here to Canada. Standing on top of Yesnaby looking out at the fierce ocean is something not to be missed. Although watch out if it's windy, people can barely stand in the harsh Atlantic gales.
An essential you need to bring with you?
A waterproof! No matter the month in Orkney you can experience snow, hail, sun and rain in a matter of hours - it's a four-seasons-in-one-day type of place.
How to get there
You can fly out to Kirkwall, but the best way to get here is to take a bus through the beauty of the highlands to Scrabster where you can catch a ferry that is arguably the most beautiful sea journey in the entire British Isles - you'll get to pass by the famous stone pillar, The Old Man of Hoy.