• Yesnaby, Orkney

2021 - a year in images

As the year draws to an end, we’ve been looking back through some of our favourite images of the past 12 months.

For most of us, 2021 has brought a little more freedom; the chance to move around and explore, whether that’s on our own doorsteps or a bit further afield. Here in Orkney we’ve been soaking up all that our landscapes and seascapes have to offer.

And as always at 59 degrees north, every season brings its own challenges, its own charms.

January brought an unusually prolonged cold snap to Orkney. In this image, a dusting of snow coats the stones at the ancient Ring of Brodgar in the soft morning light.

Snowdrops nestled among the soft mosses of Binscarth Woods, near Finstown. Binscarth is one of a number of small woodlands in Orkney.

An adult grey seal and her pups on the Loch of Stenness in Orkney's West Mainland, making the most of a little extra afternoon light as the days gradually begin to ease out.

Spring often arrives late in Orkney, and April brought the return of cold northerly winds. A dusting of snow lies on Ward Hill, crouched over the waters of Hoy Sound and the seafaring haven of Stromness.

May as always brought an explosion of colour to the clifftops of Orkney. Huge cushions of seapinks at RSPB Marwick Head are as visually raucous as the squabbling seabirds fighting over nesting spaces on the cliffs far below.

As summer finally arrives, it’s time to catch a ferry to explore our islands. St Magnus Kirk in Egilsay is a place of pilgrimage for many, regardless of faith. For the more adventurous, it marks the start of the multi-day walking route, the St Magnus Way.

July featured all the contrasts of an Orkney summer – big skies, hazy sunshine, wildflowers and long walks in a rolling green landscape. From familiar stomping grounds in the hills above Stenness, to exploring new routes in the island of Shapinsay.

The sea temperature in Orkney always lags a bit behind the change of seasons. But by August it’s finally, officially, beach weather. Waulkmill Bay in Orphir is one of our favourites. And that crystal-clear water? Well, it was probably around a balmy 12.5 Celcius!

September saw Orkney’s harvest well underway, with work beginning on taking in the barley at the Mill of Eyrland in Stenness. It also marks a softening of the light, from the harsh glare of summer to a more autumnal feel.

October is often a month of contrasting weather in Orkney. One day you’re hunkered down on a stormy coastline, the next you’re walking miles over the hills of Hoy for a visit to the famous Old Man.

The harbour town of Stromness was quiet in the month of November. A peaceful walk though its winding streets was a fine way to spend an afternoon.

With the days at their shortest, it’s important to make the most of the light. After a big southeasterly gale earlier this month, the shore at Dingieshowe in East Mainland came alive, with the low winter sun hazed by seaspray. Meanwhile...

If you want to visit Orkney and experience these scenes and seasons for yourself, take a look at our Inspiration page for more ideas on things to see and do across the islands.

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