The Orkney Islands draw travelers touring Scotland from around the world for a variety of reasons. Home to a considerable number of habitats in a small area, the 70+ island chain is home to a unique number of plants, birds and other wildlife. We spent a day on Shapinsay that was much like a step back in time.
Regular flights bring visitors to the city of Kirkwall in Orkney. A five-minute drive takes them to the Kirkwall or Ayre hotels, both good bases to enjoy Orkney ales or whiskys before visiting Shapinsay. It did not take long to learn that spirits are consumed here as part of many activities including a breakfast of porridge and scotch.
A short 25-minute ferry ride brings visitors to the shore of Shapinsay where tours can be arranged or visitors can do what we did – just walk the island.
Once ashore, visitors are greeted by abundant plant life in Balfour Village, built in the late 18th century. Originally the home for carpenters and masons employed on the estate of Balfour castle, the island of Shapinsay now has a few shops, a restaurant and a whole bunch of marvelous gardens.
As we see in this photo gallery, beautiful flowers, shrubs and grasses magically flourish in what one might otherwise think was a climate that would not support them.
[Photos- Chris Owen]