Sport and Leisure in Orkney
Orkney has some of the best sports and leisure facilities anywhere in the country - perfect to relax and unwind after a day's work. You can also take advantage of fitness classes, gyms and swimming pools - as well as the great outdoors - if you want to get active.
The main venue for leisure in the county is the Pickaquoy Centre in Kirkwall, which offers sports, arts and leisure activities. Known locally as 'the Picky', the centre also hosts major concerts, gigs, performances and sporting competitions. The New Phoenix Cinema shows blockbusters (in 2D and 3D), world films. live theatre performances via satellite link and seats 243 people.
Picky’s Exercise Zone offers many classes including Body Pump, Body Combat and Body Balance, yoga, cardio cycle, Metafit and Zumba. The Fitness Zone is a fully equipped gym with all the equipment you'd expect: treadmills, bikes and steppers etc. You need a short induction to be able to use the gym. For a more relaxing time the Health Zone has a spa pool, sauna, steam room and plunge shower. Beauty therapists offer a range of treatments such as facials, body wraps and manicures whilst health therapists treat using methods such as Reiki, reflexology and podiatry. Children aged ten and under can let off steam in Jungle World indoor play area or have a laser combat game or use the play park outside. Also outside are all-weather and grass sports pitches, used for rugby and football, an artificial cricket wicket and an athletics track. An extension to Picky saw a brand new six lane swimming pool, leisure pool and squash courts open in 2013.
There are plenty of other swimming pools in Orkney too. The Stromness pool was Orkney's first, opening in 1969, and now includes a steam room, sauna, spa and fitness centre. There are also smaller pools in the islands of Hoy, Westray, Sanday and Stronsay.
The new Kirkwall Grammar School also offers a range of fitness classes and a fitness suite and here you can also hire the games hall, gym and dance studio for club activities. There are also floodlit 3G sports pitches at Kirkwall Grammar School and at Stromness Academy.
A number of people offer fitness classes throughout the mainland and the islands and there are seven Healthy Living Centres in Orkney which provide small gyms. Members must be trained to use the equipment and a buddy system operates. They are located at St Margaret’s Hope in South Ronaldsay, in North Walls in Hoy, and in Rousay, Sanday, Shapinsay, Stronsay and Westray.
There are play parks throughout the isles and sports areas at the Market Green in Stromness and the Bignold Park in Kirkwall. There are many sporting activities in Orkney and competitive sports are played against teams and sportsmen and women from outwith Orkney and even internationally, as in the Island Games. Many sports activities and clubs are listed on the Orkney Communities website clubs page. Sports include football, rugby, cricket, golf, triathlon, cycling, martial arts, bowling, bowls, athletics and hockey. Tankerness House Gardens is an attractive and sheltered location for a relaxing stop behind the Orkney Museum. There are also a small number of allotments for hire in Kirkwall and Stromness, through Orkney Islands Council.
Community centres and halls in Orkney also offer many sporting and leisure facilities with club nights such as badminton and five-a-side football, as well as functions and drama groups. Halls may also be hired by individuals and groups.
Other leisure services include Orkney Library and Archive. The main library and archive is in Kirkwall and the other library is in Stromness. Both have reading groups and Stromness has a writing group too. There are story times for children, newspapers and magazines, CDs and DVDs to hire, free wifi access, computers, an online catalogue and even an online reading group. You can study local history through primary sources in the archive, trace your family tree with the Orkney Family History Society, view images in the photographic archive and listening to recordings in the sound archive. The library service also operates mobile vans which take books to all the north and south isles which have ro-ro ferries. Boxes of books are delivered to housebound library members. Orkney also has several museums with permanent displays and special exhibitions and events.
Leisure activities are run by the council and many clubs, groups and organisations across Orkney. For example, the RSPB in Orkney runs events and guided walks on its reserves to catch a glimpse of birds and other wildlife. Historic Scotland’s Ranger Service hosts guided walks around sites such as the Ring of Brodgar. Island rangers take groups on specialist wildlife or history walks. The possibilities for leisure activities in Orkney are many and extend to sailing, rock climbing, diving and cycling or just walking in one of the most beautiful landscapes in Britain.