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  • View over Marwick Head, Orkney

Autumn in the islands

Local photographer Rachel Eunson has been experiencing autumn in Orkney.

One of the best things about living in Orkney is the connection we inevitably forge with our wild landscape.

Living in a place so exposed to the elements, we are encouraged to move with the natural flow of the seasons and pay attention to how our surroundings transform throughout the year.

Autumn is a time of dramatic change - the nights quickly draw in; the ocean swell begins to rise and gales return with an unforgiving abruptness. All of a sudden summer seems a distant memory as vivid colours give way to more muted tones and our coastlines which were once filled with the chatter of seabird colonies, fall quiet.

Continuing to get out and explore during this period of transformation can be so rewarding, and although you are almost certainly destined to get caught in a passing rain shower, it’s always worth it to get outdoors and experience all this season has to offer. Dig out the hats and scarfs, wrap up warm and enjoy the invigorating fresh air – autumn is here for us all to embrace!

Autumn is a fantastic time to get out for a ramble along the coast, and at this time of year you are likely to find that you’ll have an entire stretch of coastline all to yourself.

Still days like this are always greeted with sigh of relief during a season that is often characterised by wild weather.

I love walking the length of this beach on a wild day and watching the waves roll in, you’ll almost always spot grey seals bobbing about in the surf too.

Yesnaby is an astonishing place to visit on a rough day, if you can put up with the wind and salt spray. The west coast of the mainland bears the full force of storms rolling in off the Atlantic Ocean, and the churning waters with waves smashing into the rugged coastline make for an exciting coastal walk! Across the Churchill Barriers in South Ronaldsay, it can be a more sedate scene, but the coastline here is just as beautiful.

With the vibrant summer colours departed for another year, the landscape begins to take on a more forlorn atmosphere, which I think can be just as compelling. This was taken on a gloomy day looking back at the stunning cliffs of Noup Head, with its lighthouse perched on top.

While the transition into autumnal colours is certainly more subtle here than in other parts of Scotland, there are still a few places in Orkney you can marvel at the change to rich reds, browns and oranges. Taking a stroll along the Old Post Road to Rackwick in Hoy, you’ll be immersed in a pallete of autumn tones as the shrubs, ferns and heather begin to turn.

The local landscape is dotted with these derelict old homes, a reminder of generations past. Many are marooned in the middle of moorland, surrounded by autumnal browns, yellows and greens.


Rachel Eunson is a photographer and CAA certified drone pilot, based in Orkney. Visit her website to see more of her work, and follow her Instagram.

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