The ‘great outdoors’

Winter sunset over Hoy Sound. (Sigurd Towrie)

In Orkney, the “great outdoors” and all it has to offer is never far away.

Summer sunset at the Ring of Brodgar. (Sigurd Towrie)

With miles of stunning beaches, coastal cliffs or heathery hills and moorland, there’s ample opportunity to get back to nature. So, whether you’re an avid birdwatcher, whale spotter or just enjoy watching seals basking in the sun, Orkney’s the place to be.

Orkney summers are long, with almost continual daylight. In June, for example, the sun is above the horizon for over 18 hours. When the sun finally sets, it remains just below the horizon so there is no true darkness – simply a period of extended twilight, known locally as the “simmer dim”.

But there is a price to pay for the long hours of summer light.

By the time of the winter solstice, in December, the sun is rising in the south-east after 9am, setting around six hours later in the south-west. But the dark winters have their benefits! On clear days, the light is incredible and a delight for photographers. During the long nights, the sky comes alive with stars and, particularly in rural areas, shimmering displays of the Northern Lights – the aurora borealis – are relatively commonplace.

Sand dunes at Catasand, Sanday.