With some of the finest sports and leisure facilities to be found anywhere in the country, Orkney is the perfect place to get active, keep fit and have fun.
We might be a small community but we definitely punch above our weight when it comes to what’s on offer locally. Orkney clubs compete to a high level at a range of sports in Scotland, but that doesn’t mean you have to be an elite athlete to take part activities here. There are leagues to join, training to enjoy and a space for everyone, from beginners to veterans.
The Pickaquoy Centre
The main venue for sports, arts and leisure in the county is the Pickaquoy Centre in Kirkwall, known locally as 'Picky'. The centre, which boasts two swimming pools and a health suite, a well-equipped gym, squash courts, climbing wall and indoor courts in addition to a range of other facilities, hosts major concerts, gigs, performances and sporting competitions. The 243-seater New Phoenix Cinema shows blockbusters (in 2D and 3D), world films and even live theatre performances via satellite link. There’s a modern athletic track outdoors and Orkney’s premier football and rugby pitch too.
Other sports facilities
You’ll also find a swimming pool in Stromness, with a steam room, sauna, spa and fitness centre, and smaller pools in the islands of Hoy, Westray, Sanday and Stronsay. Stromness also boasts squash courts and sports facilities at the local secondary school, and the Dounby Centre in the west mainland is available for hire by sports clubs.
Kirkwall Grammar School has a public fitness suite with a games hall, gym and dance studio that’s available for club activities. There are floodlit 3G sports pitches at Kirkwall Grammar School and at Stromness Academy, with a further astroturf pitch at the Pickaquoy Centre. Grass pitches are available for hire throughout the islands, and many clubs maintain their own pitches too.
Qualified trainers offer an excellent range of fitness classes throughout the mainland and the islands, and there are seven Healthy Living Centres in Orkney which incorporate small gyms. Community centres and halls in Orkney offer many sporting and leisure facilities, with club nights such as badminton and five-a-side football, as well as functions and drama groups.
Golfers in Orkney are spoilt for choice. There are 18-hole courses in Kirkwall and Stromness and an excellent 9-hole course in South Ronaldsay. The islands of Westray and Sanday boast their own 9-hole courses, adding an island-hopping adventure to your game.
Not matter what your skillset is, you should be able to find a sport to take part in here. Orkney has three football leagues and a hockey league during the summer months. Orkney FC competes in the North Caledonian League during the winter, with Orkney Rugby Club well established in Scottish Rugby’s national leagues, travelling to games across Scotland during the winter months. There are also regular netball, squash, darts and pool leagues.
On top of that there are athletics, archery, badminton, bowls, clay pigeon, climbing, dancing, gymnastics, kayaking, kickboxing, karate, small-bore shooting, snooker and sailing clubs – plus many more!
If you’re just starting out on your sporting journey then you’ll be well catered for. Most sports offer beginner and junior training, with activities available for toddlers to teenagers.
Other leisure activities and services
It’s not all about sporting endeavours though. Other leisure services in Orkney include the Orkney Library and Archive in Kirkwall and Stromness Library. You can study local history in the Orkney Archive, trace your family tree with the Orkney Family History Society, view images in the photographic archive and listen to recordings in the sound archive.
The Orkney Theatre - part of the Kirkwall Grammar School complex - is a state-of-the-art venue for all manner of concerts, performances and events, with seating for 384 people. The Sound Archive in Kirkwall is Orkney’s newest venue hosting exciting new musicians and more established acts on a regular basis, and many of Orkney’s pub’s host gigs on a regular basis too.
The Voluntary Action Orkney community directory is an excellent resource for finding out about the activities offered by local sports, community and voluntary groups.