Orkney's rich past is evident all around, it is quite simply an epicentre for archaeologists, worthy of a mention by cinema's most famous archaeologist, Indiana Jones!
There are numerous sites open all year around to visit, often unsupervised, such as the Cuween Hill Chambered Cairn in Finstown.
Whilst a short boat trip to Rousay is a worthwhile trip with several cairns open all year around to visitors.
Or perhaps Maeshowe Chambered Cairn where you will even find evidence of Viking runes (or graffiti)- some 'later' visitors to the site.
But possibly best well-known is the 5,000 BC Skara Brae neolithic village and the iconic Standing Stones at the Ring of Brodgar.
Both sites are in stunning, atmospheric locations that will leave a lasting impression.
More 'recent' historical sites include the Churchill Barriers, scuttled German Fleet and very many other remnants that serve as a reminder of the strategic significance Orkney played in the First and Second World Wars.
Stunning views of seas and skies are plentiful and breathtaking in all seasons. Reaching for your camera, phone or binoculars will happen- a lot. There are countless sites where the power of nature will, quite literally, take your breath away.
Favourites include the clifftop walks at Yesnaby, the collapsed sea cave at the Gloup in Deerness, or just the endless sands given at low tide (often to be enjoyed alone) at Waulkmill Bay, or the even lesser discovered Swanbister.
Taking an inter-island ferry to Hoy for the day it is possible to walk or cycle routes to the beautiful Rackwick Bay and further on the clifftop walk to see the infamous seastack known as the 'Old Man of Hoy'.
The historic town of Stromness with it's winding main street has been a destination for seafarers for centuries. It's stories can be discovered through it's museum and guided walks and once experienced it becomes easy to understand how it has inspired numerous artists, poets and writers over the years.
Orkney is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Sea-kayaking, surfing, diving, fishing, sailing, sea swimming, paddle-boarding and snorkelling are all on offer.
On land there's golf, hiking, quiet cycle-friendly roads and numerous museums, art-galleries, visitor centres and historic sites to visit.
Orkney excels in many sporting activities- local football, rugby, hockey and netball teams regularly compete and spectator turnouts are impressive for such a small population.
There are several 10K runs at various locations held annually and open to all who register, plus the occasional half marathon and even a Backyard Ultra Run.
There are also places such as Stromness 'Slip' where outdoor swimmers meet pretty much daily for a dip at ALL times of the year!
The St Magnus Way is a 58 mile route through various Orkney landscapes, described as a pilgrimage and inspired by the life and death of St Magnus, Orkney's patron saint.
There are very many beautiful sandy and often deserted beaches to explore in Orkney. Getting back to basics and away from devices, hunting for cowrie shells (or known locally as 'groatie buckies') is a past time to truly treasure. Any you find will serve as a small, sweet reminder of the quality time you spent together.
There is a Wildlife Visitor Centre and the 'magical' woodland spaces at Happy Valley and St Olav's wood to explore for small adventurers.
But if you are looking for indoor activities then the Pickaquoy Centre in Kirkwall has a wide range of activities on offer including a leisure pool with Health suite, gym, cinema, soft play area and climbing wall and bouldering cave.
There are also a number of museums, children parks, a skate/board cycle park and coming soon a ten pin bowling alley.
Orkney is rich in cultural experiences and holds several festivals throughout the year such as the Orkney Blues Festival, Orkney Folk Festival, Orkney Nature Festival, Orkney International Science Festival, Stromness Shopping Week and the St Magnus Festival. Unique to Orkney there is also the the Boys' Ploughing Match and Festival of the Horse. Whilst other Orcadian traditions include the Boys and Mens Ba games held on both Christmas Day and New Years Day. A truly exciting and memorable experience to watch.
During August there are two large Agricultural Shows held in Kirkwall and in Dounby with many displays and even a visiting fairground.
In 2025 Orkney will be the host for the International Islands Games competition.
Experiencing something for the first time is what makes a holiday memorable. Due to the lack of light pollution it is possible to see the Northern Lights, (the image above was taken from outside The Hen Hoose).
Or you could fly the worlds shortest scheduled passenger flight from Westray to Papa Westray (all 1.7 miles).
Or play golf on the UK's longest golf hole, also in Westray.
There are jewellery making and pottery classes to try, or perhaps, just having your own chef come and cook dinner for an evening.
Island hopping for a day can be extremely rewarding with Hoy, Shapinsay and Rousay just a small selection of the destinations easily accessible by short boat trips and all offering something unique.
If you need inspiration please just ask!
Orkney food and drink is of a very high quality and exported globally.
There are several breweries and distilleries with visitor experiences available.
Plus, a great selection of restaurants and bars and independent retailers from which to buy locally sourced exceptional, award-winning dairy produce, confectionery, seafood, beef and lamb.
Walks along Orkney's quiet beaches rarely disappoint. You will often find you're being curiously observed by grey or common seals. If you're really lucky you may even, see a porpoise or Orca.
Over land special finds to watch out for include otters, the native Orkney vole and the great yellow bumble bee.
Orkney is a birdwatcher's utopia and why we have put together a page purely for this given the ideal location of the Hen Hoose.
Orkney has a vibrant, entrepreneurial community and there are very many independent retailers providing a range of high quality products.
Jewellery, art, knitwear, pottery or perhaps an investment in an Orkney Chair or aged whisky there is bound to be a special memento of your stay waiting to be discovered.
Photo by Peter Lopeman