We all know that Orkney is the perfect place for a holiday, but did you also know that the islands are the favourite destination of much-loved TV presenter, Lorraine Kelly?
Lorraine can often be spotted out and about during her regular visits here, soaking up the sites and scenery, and sampling our fabulous local larder.
We've asked her to share her top tips for visiting Orkney and she's created an itinerary full of locations you don't want to miss.
My favourites Orkney walks include the cliff path to Yesnaby Castle, a sea stack with a natural arch that is absolutely breathtaking. No matter how many times I’ve done this route, the way the 'castle' slowly reveals itself as you get closer and closer is always magical.
Another one I love is the walk to the Old Man of Hoy. You get a brilliant view of Orkney’s most famous landmark from the ferry to Stromness, but the spectacular sight at the end of this yomp is very special.
We often get the ferry from Houton to Lyness on Hoy and then drive up to Rackwick and the start of the walk. The views across to Rackwick Bay are glorious no matter what the weather is like and seeing the Old Man so close is very special. Grab homemade soup and a sandwich or something heartier at the Beneth’ill Cafe - if the weather is good you can sit outside and enjoy the fresh air.
I also really enjoyed the walk around the coastline on North Ronaldsay to see the seaweed-eating sheep, big fat seals and seabirds. It’s a gorgeous wee island and we were so lucky with the weather. The flight across gave us beautiful views of Sanday which could have been the Seychelles with those white beaches and the vivid turquoise water.
The Brough of Birsay is worth the walk across (just check the tides so you don’t get stuck) and we saw loads of puffins the last time we visited. The Broch of Gurness is a fascinating place too, and it’s also worth getting the nearby ferry to Rousay to see the Midhowe Chambered Cairn and some of the island's other incredible cairns and tombs.
Created out of two Nissen huts by Italian prisoners of war who were put to work building the Churchill Barriers during WW2, the Italian Chapel is simply a beautiful work of art. The inside was hand-painted, the light holders were made out of old corned beef tins, and the stunning painting above the altar was created from a small prayer card of the Madonna and Child.
I loved this quick hop between Westray and Papa Westray which I first filmed for TVam back in the late 1980s. The tiny Loganair Islander aircraft operates between Kirkwall Airport and six of Orkney's north isles. It's a really special way to travel!
Last year we went over to Westray on the ferry and had a wonderful day there walking, bird watching and enjoying a lovely lunch at the Pierowall Hotel.
St Magnus Cathedral is an oasis of peace and quiet and a truly awesome building that you need time to explore properly. It shows the Vikings were not just all about invading and pillaging, they could create beauty too. Don't miss a guided tour of the cathedral's upper levels for more history and stunning views of Kirkwall.
We always stay at The Foveran just outside Kirkwall. It’s some of the best food I’ve ever eaten and the view across Scapa Flow is glorious. Another favourite is lunch at the Sheila Fleet Kirk Gallery & Cafe in the East Mainland. Leave room for the homemade cakes, and you can buy yourself a present there too. You can also get all the ingredients you need for an Orcadian picnic at Jollys of Orkney in Kirkwall.
These two guys are gorgeous and can be found on the road out past Highland Park Distillery leading towards the Churchill Barriers, just hanging out in their field. Bring them a wee snack and you will have friends for life! The Pig Sty has a little honesty cabin where you can buy souvenirs and homebakes too. I bought fridge magnets and tiny little piggy toys.
On a rainy day head for the Stromness Museum. You can spend hours there looking at an eclectic collection of interesting exhibits. I also love the Orkney Wireless Museum in Kirkwall. And the Westray Heritage Centre is also well worth a look to see the tiny teeny Westray Wife, a hand-carved sandstone figurine thought to be five thousand years old.
There are some great shops in Orkney's capital, including The Orcadian Bookshop, and there are gorgeous souvenirs to be had in The Longship, Starlings and Judith Glue Knitwear. I also got some handmade knits from Hume Sweet Hume (who also have a shop in Westray) and Aurora Jewellery is just gorgeous.
There is a fabulous selection of breweries and distilleries in Orkney. Both Highland Park Distillery and Scapa Distillery offer tours and whisky to taste, buy and take home. Highland Park also has a shop in Kirkwall that sells merchandise like hats and jumpers. Orkney beers and gins are first rate too - you can take a tour of the Orkney Brewery, the Orkney Distillery and the Deerness Distillery, with Swannay Brewery's shop well worth a stop. There is even a rum distillery and a wine company in Orkney!
Your Orkney adventure starts when you begin planning your trip to the islands. Visit our Plan Your Trip page to get your journey underway.