~ RECREATION ~

pic The Standing Stones Hotel is the ideal base for exploring all of Orkney.
 
Orkney Tourist Board will be delighted to provide comprehensive tourist information before and during your visit.

Many of Orkney's monuments are in the care of Historic Scotland, which works in collaboration with the Orkney Archaeological Society.

We hope you enjoy exploring Orkney. Here are some ideas of places to visit and things to do.

The monuments of Orkney, dating back to 3000 - 2000 BC, are outstanding testimony to the cultural achievements of the Neolithic peoples of northern Europe.
Let the Standing Stones Hotel be your gateway to an exploration of the heart of Neolithic Orkney.









WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE

pic Maeshowe - This ancient burial mound is recognised as one of the finest achievements of prehistoric Europe. It is awe-inspiring, inside and out. Inside the 7 metre high, 35 metre diameter mound is a square, finely constructed chamber big enough for several people to stand in comfortably. The stonework is corbelled, giving the structure great strength and grace, and off the chamber there are three cells within the walls, each sealed in the past by stone blocks. Maeshowe dates from about 2750 BC, making it contemporary with the Standing Stones and the settlement at Skara Brae some distance away. Although distant, Skara Brae is part of the World Heritage Site and is a "must see" for anyone interested in Orkney's prehistoric riches. At the midwinter solstice the setting sun shines down the entrance passageway at Maeshowe, illuminating the interior. To see it is to come as close as we probably ever will to understanding our ancestors. Their world was very different from ours. The landscape we see around the Standing Stones Hotel is the product of thousands of years of human settlement but it has retained its character. There is a quiet magic to it. A sense of place. We hope that you take the time to enjoy it, and share our appreciation of it. Website...



pic Tormiston Mill - An excellent late example of a Scottish water wheel that was probably built in the 1880's, and the mechanisms have been preserved as a museum. Because of the buildings close proximity to Maeshowe, the building is used as the ticket office and gift shop of Maeshowe. While visitors wait for Maeshowe, via the timed ticket tours, they can explore and look at the museum at Tormiston Mill. The mill also has some exhibits about the mill and the area.  Website...









pic Standing Stones of Stenness - Near the Ring of Brodgar, just a short walk along what may have been a ceremonial route, lies a smaller ring, originally of 12 stones surrounded by a rock-cut ditch. In its way it is just as impressive a monument as its larger neighbour, though its true purpose remains a mystery. Website...











pic Barnhouse - In recent years, detailed archaeological exploration in a field adjacent to the Stenness stones revealed a settlement, very likely occupied by people who built or worshiped at the ceremonial rings. The orientation of the hall-like structure at Barnhouse is the same as the ring's, and other similarities have led to speculation that the hall may also have served a ritual or ceremonial purpose. Was it, perhaps, a religious settlement, home to the priests or shamen who led the rituals at Stenness and Brodgar. We do not know, so can only imagine. As we see it today, Barnhouse is a partial reconstruction carried out by Orkney Islands Council. Visitors have been known to wonder aloud about the skill of our Neolithic ancestors in cutting the stones so cleanly, but the truth is that the cuts were made by modern machinery and not by ancient hands. Website...






pic Ring of Brodgar - We will never know what was in the hearts and minds of the builders who worked together to create the spectacular henge monument known as the Ring of Brodgar. 125 megalithic yards in diameter, the ring of 60 stones, only 27 of which remain standing today, is set out in a perfect circle with the stones some 6 degrees or so apart. It may have an astronomical purpose, a temple to the moon or the sun perhaps. Whatever its purpose it represents a huge achievement for a community of people using the simplest of technologies. In the third millennium BC they excavated 4,700 cubic metres of rock to create a ditch more than 10 metres across and 3 metres deep, surrounding the stone ring. But the only way to truly appreciate the monument is to be there. Not for a five minute photo stop but a longer visit, taking time to get a real sense of the drama of the landscape and the vision of the builders.
Fishing in Lochs of Harray and Stenness. Website...





pic Watch Stone - Towering over the isthmus between the twin lochs of Harray and Stenness, the 5.5 metre high monolith known as the Watch Stone probably helped mark the ceremonial pathway between Brodgar and Stenness. Other stones have been lost in the millennia since they were erected but the Watch Stone remains. Website...















WITHIN 5 MILES

pic Unstan Tomb - is a Neolithic chambered cairn located on Mainland, Orkney. The tomb was built on a promontory that extends into the Loch of Stenness near the settlement of Howe and the town of Stromness.  Unstan is notable as an atypical hybrid of the two main types of chambered cairn found on Orkney, and as the location of the first discovery of a type of pottery that now bears the name of the tomb. The site is in the care of Historic Scotland. Website...










pic Corrigall Farm Museum - Opened to the public in 1980, Corrigall Farm Museum is a traditional ‘but and ben’ house. It portrays a typical Orkney farmhouse and steading in Victorian times (late 19th Century).  The working barn and grain kiln, horse-drawn machinery and livestock make for an interesting visit for children and adults. Website...











pic Skara Brae - is a large stone-built Neolithic settlement, located on the Bay of Skaill on the west coast of Mainland, Orkney. It consists of ten clustered houses, and was occupied from roughly 3180 BC–2500 BC. It is Europe's most complete Neolithic village and because of its age (older than Stonehenge or the Great Pyramids) and the high level of preservation, it has gained UNESCO World Heritage Site status, and has been called the "Scottish Pompeii". Website...










pic Skaill House - Skaill House is the finest mansion in Orkney steeped in 5000 years of history. It stands imposingly on the Atlantic coast of Orkney and just 200m from the world famous Neolithic village of Skara Brae. The house is surrounded by spacious lawned gardens in a beautiful secluded spot between the sea and the Loch of Skaill. Website...








pic Stromness Golf Course - It was probably around 1870 that golf began to be played in Stromness on a nine hole course at Wharbeth. It was a natural links course.  There were no fairways, as we know them today.  The grass over the whole course was cropped short by rabbits.  The game became very popular with both men and women, in spite of the long walk they had to take to get there, before they could start to play  Website...










WITHIN 10 MILES

pic St Magnus Cathedral - Britain’s most northerly Cathedral. St Magnus Cathedral known as the ‘Light in the North’ was founded in 1137 by the Viking, Earl Rognvald, in order of his uncle St Magnus. The Cathedral belongs to the people of Orkney and its doors are open to all. The Cathedral, set in the heart of Kirkwall, the capital city of the Orkney Islands, off the north coast of Scotland, is a place of stillness, of serenity, of warmth, of the presence of God. Website...
















pic Kirkwall Golf Course - Orkney Golf Club, also known as Kirkwall, is the archetypal friendly Scottish golf club - very welcoming, not too expensive and boasting a course that you wish you could play every day for the rest of your life. Indeed, if ever a golf course were designed for visitors then this is surely it. There are wonderful views of the North Isles and the village of Kirkwall can be seen from all parts of the course. Although the course is fairly flat and easy on the legs it still poses a distinct challenge at all times to players of all abilities. Website...









Orkney Craft Trail - Visit craft shops - there are many individual craft industries nearby. Visit Orkney Designer Crafts for more details.

Rousay (by ferry) - Visit Rousay...     Orkney Ferries - Rousay...

Hoy (by ferry) - Visit Hoy...     Orkney Ferries - Hoy...

The North Isles (by ferry) - Download the The Islands of Orkney brochure.



BIRDS AND FLOWERS
Mid-May to mid-July is the best time to see birds in Orkney. Over 300 species of birds have been recorded here. Visits to outer island bird reserves can be arranged.
Wild flowers are at their best between May and June. You may be fortunate and find the tiny rare Primula Scotica.


OUTDOOR AND SPORTING PURSUITS
Sea Angling
Rock climbing
Squash Sub aqua.
The wrecks of Scapa Flow offer challenging diving in sheltered waters and attract divers from all over the world.


GUIDED TOURS
If your time is limited or this is your first visit to Orkney, a guided tour may be the best way to explore.

Patricia Long of About Orkney specialise in personalised guided Orkney tours. A private tour of Orkney can be designed around whatever you are interested in: archaeology, war-time Orkney, crafts, food and drink or scenery and wildlife, or you can just say you want to be shown Orkney.

Frank Gaertner of Odin Tours of Orkney specialise in personalised guided Orkney tours.

Michael Hartley of Wildabout Orkney offers relaxed, informative tours daily. Pickup can be arranged from the hotel.

Orkney Map