Orkney Guide Book:
Getting About in Orkney

A trip to Orkney is not complete without a visit to one or more of the islands, as well as visiting all the interesting places on the Mainland. Since each island is different, with its own charm and the inter-island transport system is good, it is both easy and interesting to visit all of the islands as well as the Mainland parishes.

Due to the number of routes and operators the system is rather complex, and intending users are strongly advised to procure the latest timetables from the Tourist Office, or direct from the operators.

Orkney Ferries operates ro-ro services to most of the islands, while British Airways Express operate flights to most of the North Isles. Bus services meet ferries at Stromness, Houton and Burwick, and there are services from Kirkwall to Stromness, Dounby, Tingwall, Houton, Deerness, and St Margaret's Hope. Minibus services are available on some of the islands, and taxis, hire cars and bicycles are available on the Mainland and on many of the Islands.


The main internal sea transport operator is Orkney Ferries, which operates to most inhabited Islands from Kirkwall, Tingwall, Houton and Stromness. Orkney Ferries publishes a detailed timetable annually with full details of all services. Further information can be had by calling their head office at the Pierhead, Kirkwall, Tel (01856) 872044, Fax (01856) 872921.

All services are ro-ro except those to Papay, North Ronaldsay and Graemsay, where vehicles are handled by crane. The modern fleet of ships runs frequent daily services to all islands except North Ronaldsay, which is once or twice weekly. The services run as follows:

from Kirkwall for Westray, Papa Westray, Eday, Sanday, Stronsay and North Ronaldsay.

to book telephone (01856) 872044

from Tingwall in Evie for Rousay, Egilsay & Wyre.

to book telephone (01856) 751360

from Houton in Orphir for Hoy and Flotta.

to book telephone (01856) 811397

from Stromness for Graemsay and North Hoy

to book telephone (01856) 850624

Fares. There are two levels of fares to the islands. Tickets for the inner islands of Hoy, Flotta, Rousay, Egilsay, Wyre and Shapinsay are cheaper than those to the Outer Isles of Westray, Eday, Sanday, Stronsay and North Ronaldsay. All fares are very reasonable, and a reduction of 25% is available for 10 journey tickets. Since these apply to all islands in the same price band it is quite easy to use up 10 tickets in a holiday!

See also Orkney Ferries advertisements and posters for further information.

Independent operators also have boats available for hire. Please ask at the Tourist Office or locally for the latest information.


British Airways Express, (operated by) Loganair run daily services (except Sunday) to most of the Outer North Isles - Westray, Papay, North Ronaldsay, Sanday and Stronsay and to Eday on Wednesdays only with 8-seat Islander aircraft. Flying from Kirkwall airport, this service is very popular, and booking is generally required.

Special deals exist for visitors, including the Orkney Adventure ticket which allows visits to up to three islands at a very special price. Also available is the Sightseer Fare, bookable 30 minutes before departure, which allows a discount of 50% and is an excellent way to have an aerial tour of the North Isles.

Bookings and Inquiries Telephone numbers Loganair Tel (01856) 872494, Fax (01856) 872420 or the local travel agent, Ridgway Travel, Tel (01856) 873359, Fax (01856) 872680 for further details. Details of all internal flights can also be had on British Airways central inquiries and reservation number Tel 0345 222111.


Scheduled Services Several operators run scheduled bus services on the Mainland, including the main operator, JD Peace tel (01856) 872866, as well as Shalder Coaches tel (01856) 850809, Rosie Coaches tel (01856) 751227, Stove Coaches tel (01856) 741215 and Causeway Coaches tel (01856) 831444. Details of all these services are published weekly in the "Orcadian" on Thursdays, and may also be found at the Tourist office, or direct from the operators.

Information on transport operators in the islands is available from the Tourist Board, and is listed under each island in the gazetteer. See advertisements for details.

Tours of Orkney Mainland Both general and special-interest tours are available. Sinclair Dunnet of "GO ORKNEY" runs a series of tours of the Mainland and also goes across to Hoy and Rousay. There is no better introduction to Orkney than his "Grand Tour".

"Wildabout" offers an entirely different type of experience. Historical, Wildlife, Folklore and Environmental excursions are available as advertised in the Wildabout brochure. Michael Hartley also does visits to Hoy and runs the "Dusk/Puffin patrol" with his new 15-seat mincoach. Details from the Tourist Office, or on Tel (01856) 851011.

Shalder Coaches operate daily tours of the Mainland in conjunction with John O'Groats Ferries including Maxi Day Tours and the shorter Highlights Tours.

Other operators

Car Hire Orkney is very much a car-orientated society, and independent transport makes it much easier to see the areas not served by public transport. Several firms have cars for hire, including those advertising here. It is also possible to hire cars in many of the islands. Details about services are available from the Tourist Board. In particular a car is essential to reach many of the most interesting places on the Mainland as public transport only serves the main population centres.

Taxis Taxis are available throughout Orkney, either for normal hires, or tours. See advertisements for telephone numbers. Please check in "The Orcadian" or ask at the Tourist office for further information. There are taxi ranks at the Pier Head, and Broad Street in Kirkwall and in Stromness at the Pier Head.

Bicycle Hire Orkney, being relatively flat, is good country for cycling - but note the wind direction before setting off - it could be much harder getting back! While the main Kirkwall-Stromness road can be rather busy, there are many secondary roads which are very quiet. On a nice day there is no better way to absorb the rhythm of the countryside than from a bike.

Bicycles can be hired on the Mainland in Kirkwall at Two-Wheeled Orkney, Tel (01856) 873097 and in Stromness at Orkney Cycle Hire, Tel (01856) 850255. They may also be hired on many of the other islands. Please check under the particular island, or ask at the Tourist Office or locally for further information.

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