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Last updated : Nov 2009
Orkney and Shetland Islands
Orkney and Shetland Islands -
These two island groups are situated northeast of the Scottish mainland – see the Travel section for details of air and sea connections. The islands are of particular interest to sea anglers, birdwatchers and rock climbers. Birds are the main attraction on National-Trust-owned Fair Isle, between Orkney and Shetland.


The Pentland Firth separates Orkney from the mainland. The islands are fertile, although with few trees, and enjoy a mild, variable climate. The main town, on Mainland, is Kirkwall, with a cathedral and many other places of interest. Orkney is full of prehistoric sites, including the Stone Age village of Skara Brae, the Maes Howe burial mound, and the standing stones at the Ring of Brogar. For further information contact the Orkney Tourist Board

On the other side of Scapa Flow is Hoy, whose cliffs and windswept sandstone landscape make it one of the most dramatic of the Orkney group. Other islands include South Ronaldsay and Westray.


This group of 100 rugged islands of which 15 are inhabited is the most northerly part of Britain. Their climate is mild considering their northerly latitude (the same as southern Alaska). The chief town of Lerwick, on Mainland, the largest island, relied in former days on fishing but now benefits from North Sea oil. Places of interest include the island of Foula, the Jarlshof Bronze Age settlement, the nature reserve on Noss, Mousa Broch on uninhabited Mousa, and the world’s most northerly castle on Unst. For further information contact the Tourist Board