• Mill Bay, Stronsay

2022 - a year in images

With another year coming to a close, we’ve been looking back through our Orkney image library at some of our favourite shots of the past 12 months.

As far as endless days of exquisite light go, 2022 may not be remembered as a ‘vintage’ year.

But while the weather may have been best forgotten at times, the moments of clarity are possibly all the more memorable for their fleeting nature.

The cliffs at Yesnaby can feel exposed at any time of year. In January, in a biting westerly gale, the wind gets right to the bone. Blues and the subtlest or orange hues are the colours cast in a mid-afternoon sunset.

February is a month for hunkering down. This tiny cottage in the township of Rackwick in Hoy turns its back to the winter gales as it sits dwarfed by the great sandstone cliffs behind.

‘In like a lion…’, a March gale shakes the ‘mane’ of marram grass at Dingieshowe beach in Deerness.

Spring comes late to Orkney. April is a time of hard light and an even harder looking landscape. But the sparseness allows an appreciation of the shape and form of our many Neolithic monoliths, like here at the Standing Stones of Stenness.

Then in May the light and landscape explode with colour. It’s such a joy to be out on the shoreline watching the profusion of wildlife on land, sea and sky. With expert guides on hand, the Orkney Nature Festival is the perfect excuse to dust off your binoculars or rummage in the rockpools.

Early June and the thrift is in full bloom around our coasts. An evening coastal walk north from Burwick in South Ronaldsay is the perfect way to appreciate our most iconic coastal species.

July is a great month for getting off the beaten track with a trip to one of Orkney’s many smaller islands. In Rousay, the verges are a riot of wildflowers as the thin ribbon of tarmac rises and falls around its twelve mile circumference.

If you appreciate the shape and form of Orkney’s traditional cottages then North Ronaldsay is the place to go. In August it hosts its annual Sheep Festival, when the population doubles with volunteers coming from around the world to help rebuild the iconic North Ronaldsay Sheep Dyke.

In September our gently rolling fields are a patchwork of green and gold. Another harvest safely gathered in to tide our farmers through the harsh months.

Don’t expect much sylvan autumn colour in Orkney. The first big gales in October tend to strip the trees bare, creating a suitably spooky effect in time for Halloween here at St Magnus Cathedral.

November often brings a short spell of settled weather. Perhaps just a day or two when the colour seems to inexplicably return to the landscape. A fine chance to get out and explore Faraclett Head in Rousay, with its views across to St Magnus Church in Egilsay.

December, our darkest month. But also the time in which we look ahead to the returning of the light as the winter solstice passes. This mist-softened dawn sunshine gave the Stromness waterfront a cinematic feel a couple of weeks ago. A reminder that the light is never far away.

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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