I bring a professional background to guiding: an Oxford graduate, I was a secondary head in Shropshire for 25 years before ‘retiring’ to Orkney ten years ago; now, as a trained and qualified ‘green badge’ guide since 2008, I have the knowledge and skills to bring Orkney alive for our visitors. While there is memorable history and archaeology (5,000 sites!) here, the islands are thriving today too, with a lively arts scene and strong cultural traditions: the present – and the future – of 21st-century Orkney also have much of interest!
Coming to Orkney is a special event. I do believe that a carefully planned tour with a professional guide can make a real difference, bringing out much that you would otherwise miss. A vital part of the process is for me to give you time in advance, working together so that we build an Orkney tour that is absolutely “tailor-made” for you, reflecting your interests and making the most of the time you will have here. I’m delighted to do “step-on” guiding (ie in your own vehicle) or walking tours; you’d be most welcome to contact me to discuss the possibilities.
While there is memorable history and archaeology (5,000 sites!) here, the islands are thriving today too, with a lively arts scene and strong cultural traditions: the present – and the future – of 21st-century Orkney also have much of interest!
For most newcomers to Orkney, the great Stone Age sites are a natural place to begin an Orkney tour - the heart of our “West Mainland” has UNESCO World Heritage status because of the combination of a 5,000-year-old stone village, a magnificent burial chamber and two impressive stone circles. Each is a remarkable place to step backwards in time, and it is a privilege to share them with visitors; and important archaeological discoveries such as those at the Ness of Brodgar constantly reshape the story.
There is of course much more to Orkney history than the Neolithic, with a strong Norse tradition and rewarding sites to visit from almost all time periods – Iron Age brochs, our 12th-century Cathedral dedicated to local martyr St Magnus, medieval palaces, towns deeply evocative of history, an important manor house, farm museums giving insight into the life of ordinary folk, and much from the World Wars – the Chapel built by Italian prisoners of war is an extraordinary triumph of the human spirit, perhaps my favourite in all of Orkney. For a little more depth, all this can be explored through excellent museums: general ones in the larger towns as well as a number with special focus.
However the richness of life here extends very firmly into the present:
• There is excellent coastal walking and the wildlife you would expect – with luck including a Puffin or the rare Primula scotica! As a past Chairman of Orkney Field Club I have a particular interest in this area (not least in Orkney’s wonderful range of lichens!).
• There is a strong tradition of craftsmanship, and many fascinating workshops can be visited on the absorbing Orkney Craft Trail.
• Fine local foods are widely available through a number of good restaurants.
• Orkney is at the centre of the development of renewable energy, with projects here leading the world in harnessing the power of wind, wave and tide.
• A visit to one or more of Orkney’s outer isles can be most rewarding, illuminating anything from the Second World War to our remotest wildlife.
I look forward to welcoming you to Orkney and should be delighted to hear from you.