In Orkney, the ‘outdoors’ isn’t something that exists separately from daily life, compartmentalised as a leisure commodity to be enjoyed only at weekends, or during the holidays.
Even if you don’t work on the land or the sea in Orkney, you’re intertwined with the environment here, noticing the passing of the seasons and the subtle (and not so subtle) changes in weather throughout the days.
Most local folk, and many of our regular visitors too, will have an Orkney place that’s special to them. It might be a particular beach or stretch of coast, a favourite walk, a hill with a grand view, or even an entire island.
Suffice to say, our unique landscape provides the full spectrum of economic, physical and mental sustenance at the best of times, and the worst too.
The global Coronavirus pandemic, with its necessary restrictions on movement, made all of us in Orkney acutely aware of how fortunate we are to exist within this remarkable corner of the world.
Our special outdoors places – at least those we could reach during lockdown - became all the more significant during lockdown, providing familiarity, comfort, and physical and mental release at an uncertain time.
For some who had perhaps forgotten the world closer to home, it was also a chance to discover, or rediscover, what they had on their doorstep.
And the significant spaces that lay beyond the limits of lockdown - places we would return to and relish all the more intensely when we were free to roam - shone like beacons of optimism through the darkness of the crisis.
As lockdown restrictions continue to ease in Orkney, we’re once again immersing ourselves in our landscape and fully appreciating its healing power.
We’re now in a period of reconnection in Orkney, both in terms of our human relationships and our link to the land, sea and skies of our homeland.
Never selfish with what we have, we also appreciate what Orkney means to those who live beyond our shores. We know how many folk have missed the islands during the pandemic and it’s good to see them now returning.
Equally, if you’ve never been to Orkney before, this could well be the year it becomes your very own special place.
Whether you’re local or a guest in our islands, there’s no better time to head out the door, with your eyes, ears and heart open, and truly experience all that Orkney has to offer.
If you're planning to reconnect with Orkney this year, take a look at our special COVID-19 section for all the information you need to travelling to the islands during the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Promoting Orkney project has been part financed by the Scottish Government and the European Community Orkney LEADER 2014-2020 Programme.