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When British travellers who have a passion for exploring natural and historic sites like Fiyaz Mughal – founder of Tell MAMA – think of taking a vacation, a trip to a location within the United Kingdom is usually on their mind. One such location is the Orkney Islands, which are a group of about 70 islands located off the north coast of Scotland. These islands have existed for more than 5,000 years, providing an ideal environment for wildlife, birds, flora and fauna.

The largest island is called the Mainland, and on its east coast lies Kirkwall, which was regarded the ancient capital of the islands. The other main port within the Mainland is Stromness, located in the south and featuring winding streets and art galleries. The main industry on the islands is lobster and crab fishing, so you can imagine there are some good seafood restaurants. Tourism is the other significant income generating activity, with visitors encouraged to tour and explore on a regular basis.


Orkney’s coastline is a blend of many unique attractions, from red sandstone cliffs to rugged shores and sheltered beaches. There are sea stacks like Westray, Castle o’Burrian and Old Man of Hoy that are popular with climbers. Long narrow slots by the sea called geos are also plentiful and in the cliffs, visitors can see ancient fossils. Westray is also home to natural flagstone and there’s an exhibition here that has been established. During low tide, visitors can visit the tidal island of the Brough of Birsay to view crabs, rock pools and anemones.


Among the rare wildlife visitors can hope to see is the Orkney vole, which traces its roots to the European vole. There are short-eared owls and brown hare found across the coastal grassland, and even deer and foxes can be seen roaming. One of Britain’s rarely seen animals, the Eurasian otter, can also be found in Orkney. Insects such as moths, butterflies and the great yellow bumblebee call the islands home as well.


It’s said that all four seasons can be experienced in a single day at these islands. However, each of the seasons has its effects on the climate. Spring is when wildflowers across the island bloom, summer brings with it festivals, grey seals give birth to their young in autumn, and winter brings communities together for celebrations.