Stromness and Orphir

Plaque in Stromness
Plaque in Stromness

Stromness is Orkney’s second largest town – its narrow main street hugs the shore with even narrower alleys running off it. It’s an important fishing port, and has been for centuries – though hopefully today’s sailors won’t need the ministrations of Mrs Humphrey as described in the plaque above!

We stayed in Stromness 19 years ago – on this visit, we just popped in a couple of times for lunch and a wander.

It’s a short drive inland back to Kirkwall – but it’s much prettier to follow the south coast and stop off at a few picturesque spots.

Earl's Bu, Orphir
Earl’s Bu, Orphir

Orphir is home to a small museum about the Orkneyinga Saga , a bloodthirsty Viking tale from around 1200 AD. Next to it, you can see the remains of the Earl’s Bu (drinking hall) and the round church which both feature in the stories.

From here, we did a circular walk along the coast and back through farmland, then stopped off at Waukmill Bay and RSPB Hobbister on or way home to Kirkwall. Plenty of opportunities for John to practice his bird-in-flight photography!

We’ve not seen John’s head popping out of a tomb for a while. I’ll rectify that next time.


  1. At first reading of the plaque, I thought the men were individually trapped in ice and wondered how on earth they survived. Then I came to my senses and realized that they were on a boat trapped by ice and got scurvy from lack of fresh food! Looks like a wonderful place to visit!