Autumn is a brilliant time to explore Orkney. It’s a season full of dramatic and beautiful light, stunning sunsets, wild weather and so much more.
And best of all, you could have some of our most popular sites all to yourself. Here are five of our favourite things to do in Orkney this autumn.
The shorter days bring longer nights, and with that the chance of catching a glimpse of the beautiful Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights. If conditions are right, Orkney is one of the best places in the UK to see the phenomenon, which can bring displays of green, red and purple light, dancing across the night sky. Find out how you can join Orkney’s growing band of aurora watchers from our special blog, with more information on how you can try and time it right to catch a display yourself.
Let me tell you a story
Orkney is rich in folklore, with tales of mystical selkie folk, mischievous trows and malevolent stoor worms captivating generations of islanders. The annual Orkney Storytelling Festival brings some of those legends to life for visitors from around the world. Join storytellers from Orkney and further afield for a celebration of the oral tradition in venues across the islands in October. There’s nothing better than stepping inside, wrapping up warm and listening to good stories told well. Be part of it between the 26th and 29th of October – find out more from our blog and the official website.
The islands are a haven for wildlife watchers during the autumn. Orkney is on the flight path for migrating birds, with some spectacular sightings over the years. Visit the North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory or one of the 13 RSPB reserves and you might see something special, including redwings, bramblings and waders. Late September brings the grey seal pupping season, when hundreds of new born seals can be seen on beaches and shorelines throughout the islands. Places like Sanday, Stronsay and South Ronaldsay have perfect spots to watch them – but remember to keep your distance.
On the wartime trail
Orkney is well known for its Neolithic attractions, but why not get off the beaten path and explore some of our more recent history? The islands played an important role during two World Wars and remains of that military heritage can be seen across the landscape. Get a guided tour of Ness Battery, a former gun battery just outside Stromness, and HMS Tern, a WWII airfield. See the remains of an old German destroyer in the shallow surf in Sanday, or you can see stunning wartime structures, including a fascinating rocket battery, in Flotta too.
Discover the secrets of Orkney
We’ve been highlighting some of Orkney’s lesser known sites in our monthly newsletter throughout the year and the list is continuing to grow! From ancient farmhouses to fishermen’s huts, castles to museums, there are so many stunning locations to visit that don’t get the publicity they deserve. We’re trying to change that, so take a look at our Explore Uncovered Orkney map and see some of these sites yourself!