• View towards Stromness, Orkney

Autumn images from Orkney

As the nights draw in and the light begins to soften, we’ve been looking through some of our favourite autumnal images from across the islands.

Seasons move quickly in Orkney. The shift from seemingly endless daylight to late-afternoon darkness always surprises, no matter how long you’ve lived with it.

But, before winter fully takes hold there’s something of a sweet-spot, where you might face equinoctial gales one day, followed by intense stillness and a diffuseness of light the next.

Whether you’re passing on the ferry or trekking across the island specially to see it, the Old Man of Hoy is best seen in autumn. Alongside the enormous cliffs of St John’s Head, its red sandstone ledges seem to glow in the soft light.

St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall also takes on an ethereal glow at this time of year. Built in honour of Orkney’s Viking saint, rooks gather around its spire in autumn, riding the updrafts and providing an atmospheric soundscape to the town.

There’s always a bit of excitement here when the first big gale of the season blows in, stripping away the last remnants of clifftop wildflowers and coating landscapes – and faces – in a fine layer of salt. Yesnaby is one of the best places to experience the Orkney elements at their wildest.

But when the gale subsides the big seas continue to rumble in for a day or two, piling great mounds of seaweed on the shore, to the delight of local seabirds. Autumn is a fabulous time of year for seeing a wealth of our local wildlife.

Orkney may not have the level of tree cover seen in other parts of the UK, but the woodlands we do have come into their own. Happy Valley is a local nature reserve where the sylvan canopy further softens the autumn sunshine.

It’s a great time of year to visit our World Heritage Site. The Heart of Neolithic Orkney beats a little slower after the summer visitors depart the islands.

On the Stromness waterfront the houses, built on the traditional small piers, capture the light, warming their stone walls before the cold winds of winter move in.

On a still day the high ground gives a great vantage point across our autumn land and seascapes. This ruined cottage in Orphir overlooks the sea with the hills of Hoy behind.

As evening draws in the light slowly fades over the village of St Margaret’s Hope in South Ronaldsay. Fires are lit to ward away the chill air.

But shorter days needn’t mean shorter days out. With darkness comes our fabulous night skies. You may catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis, or just a wonderful view of the stars, seen here over the Italian Chapel.

Find out more about autumn in Orkney. If you're thinking about a last-minute trip to the islands, check out late availability accommodation offers.

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