Orkney Islands

Reports, advice, maps, it all goes here for the intrepid.
Post Reply
User avatar
Black Countryman
Posts: 30
Joined: December 21st, 2015, 5:10 pm
Location: Kingswinford

Orkney Islands

Post: # 16949Post Black Countryman
February 20th, 2017, 8:57 pm

I'm thinking of ticking another item off my bucket list by going over to the Orkney Isles in May.

We will be travelling up from the Midlands and, beyond having the first and last nights at the excellent C&CC site site just over the border in Moffat, we have a blank sheet of paper.

Has anyone got any experience of going up there with a camper as I am looking for advice on the following
  • Ferries
    Camp sites
    Things to see & do (i definitely want to get to Scapa Flow (Dad was there after the war in the Navy), Hoy and the prehistoric villages)
    anything to watch out for/avoid
Any hints, tips, comments, etc would be welcome.

User avatar
Posts: 510
Joined: August 23rd, 2014, 9:13 pm
Location: Bolton, Lancashire

Re: Orkney Islands

Post: # 16950Post Peaky
February 20th, 2017, 9:12 pm

We haven't yet made it to the Orkney's as the West coast & Outer Heb's just keep dragging us back.
A couple of my tips would be to pre-book your main ferries.
Try some wild camping, it's fantastic!!! We only book a campsite every 2/3 nights so we can re-fill the water, grab a shower & dispose of our waste. If you are going to wild camp then fresh water is the priority, we found wet wipes to be our God send!
As I said, I don't know Orkney & I'm sure you've already visited http://www.visitorkney.com/

Peaky ;-)
2013 Nissan Navara Tekna

2008 Skarosser Nordstar Polar 4.0

User avatar
Posts: 8
Joined: December 5th, 2016, 4:17 pm
Location: Wiltshire

Re: Orkney Islands

Post: # 17690Post whisht
May 3rd, 2017, 9:15 am

Sorry for slow response - I'd not noticed the thread. We were there last years, not with demountable but with previous panelvtn conversion. Some thoughts:
Don't underestimate the the it takes to get from Inverness to Scrabster - A99 long slow road but with lots of good places to see. Particularly recommend the harbour and wee cafe at Lybster. A gem.
As you are up there - Duncansby Head (John o' Groats) a disappointment. Dunnet Head, stunning and wild camp spot.
Scrabster camp site is great base for the west side and foot ferry to Hoy and Scapa RN Museum. I'd think about staying a few days, demounting and 'free running' with truck from there.
I prefer Stromness - Scrabster traditional ferry to the fast cat to St Margarets Hope. Great views of Hoy. Not sure if height restriction on fast cat anyway?
Go to excellent Tourist Info in Kirkwall early on and find out when the cruise ships are in. These can double the population of Kirkwall and fill the popular sites with tourists in nylon and slingbacks. Plan around the quiet times. Maes Howe needs to be booked - and has 20m long by 1.5m high tunnel entrance so beware if claustrophobic or have bad back. Fascinating, but my Mrs (who has both) was very disappointed that she couldn't get in. :(
Get the multi-site pass - Heritage Scotland I think. But if English Heritage member for 2 years or more check your free entry allowance.
Wild camping possible but not as good as Hebrides or Shetland - as there are far more camper vans around. Excellent spot just west of St Margarets Hope on beach with public loo - near Hoxa (go to the Hoxa Tapestry Gallery near there too - amazing). Generally look for beaches or often small jetties and quays (though beware early morning fishing boat activity).
Probably best to visit the islands without the vehicle (bikes?) as expensive.
We liked Orkney but absolutely loved Shetland! Longer trip but so empty, beautiful and welcoming.
Whisht. PM for more? Enjoy!

User avatar
Black Countryman
Posts: 30
Joined: December 21st, 2015, 5:10 pm
Location: Kingswinford

Re: Orkney Islands

Post: # 17737Post Black Countryman
May 8th, 2017, 8:32 am

Thanks for all this, especially the warning about the tunnels. I had a panic attack when I was in an MRI scanner but the tube was about 2 inches from my nose and the lead mat used to cover my crown jewels was pushing down on me adding to the sense of being squashed. A 4ft tunnel out to be OK as long as my back isn't playing up.

The warning about the distance of John O'Groats has been noted, I might stick in another overnight stop between there and Moffatt - the beauty of having our holiday home on out back.

I've finally pinned my wife down to dates and it looks like we will be setting out on 21st, take 2 or 3 days to get there, have week on the islands and then another couple of days to get her back in time for work. I'm going to book the boats today before she changes her mind (again).

Post Reply