About Orkney
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  About the Orkney Islands

Orcadian Facts and Figures


  • Orkney is separated from Caithness, on the Scottish mainland, by the Pentland Firth, 6.5 miles wide at the narrowest.
  • The distance from the most northerly of the Orkney islands, North Ronaldsay, to Shetland is 50 miles.
  • The area of the Orkney Mainland is 202 square miles.
  • The highest point in the Orkney Islands is Ward Hill on Hoy - rising 1,565 feet above sea level.
  • The highest point on the Orkney Mainland is Ward Hill in Orphir - 881 feet.
  • The highest point in the North Isles is the hill known as "Blotchiefiold" on the island of Rousay - 821 feet.
  • The cliffs on Hoy are 1,140 feet high and are therefore the highest perpendicular sea cliffs in the United Kingdom.
  • The Old Man of Hoy stands at a height of 450 feet - the height of St Paul's Cathedral in London.


  • The latitude of Kirkwall is approximately 59 degrees north and its longitude 3 degrees west.
  • At the Midsummer solstice, the sun rises around 3.58 am, setting again at around 10.29 pm and is therefore above the horizon for 18 hours
  • Orkney's only natural woodland can be found on the island of Hoy
  • Harray is the only Orkney parish without a seaboard.


  • Orkney's earliest lighthouse was established in 1789.
  • The first issue of Orkney's local newspaper, The Orcadian, rolled off the presses in November 1854.
  • The first motor bus service between Kirkwall and Stromness began in 1905.
  • Orkney has the world's shortest scheduled air flight in the world. The flight between the islands of Westray and Papay takes less than two minutes
  • Lord Kitchener was drowned close to Marwick Head in Birsay on June 5, 1916. The staff and seven hundred officers and men on board the HMS Hampshire also perished.
  • The first British civilian casualty of the World War II died near the Brig o' Waithe in the Mainland parish of Stenness.
  • Television came to the island on 22 December 1958 - about 15 years before some of the islands had mains electricity.
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