STROMNESS Known as Hamnavoe ("haven bay") in old Norse, it is still a busy harbour thanks to the car ferry which links Orkney to Shetland and mainland Scotland.
Pentland Ferries operate a vehicle ferry from Gill's Bay near John o'Groats to St. There are also local bus connections from Wick railway station to Scrabster or you can get a taxi from Thurso railway station.
Train: The main railway line runs from Inverness up the mainland east coast to Wick and Thurso.
If you are staying on the mainland and have only one day to spend visiting Orkney, why not see all the main historical places of interest on a coach tour with: John O'Groats Ferries. Every day from 1 May to 30 September, the Maxi Day Tour leaves John O'Groats at 9am, takes you over by ferry to the coach on Orkney. Or for a shorter Highlights coach tour, leave on the 10.30am ferry and return to John O'Groats at 6pm. You can also go on the tour as a day-trip from Inverness (as mentioned above). Her web site contains a lot of information about daily life in Orkney over the last 100 years.
The Stagecoach bus company operates a half-day tour from Kirkwall via Stromness to see Skara Brae and Ring of Brodgar. Great Orkney Tours is run by Jean Ross who has lived in Orkney all her life. Scotland Made Easy can plan a customised itinerary for a self-drive tour to suit your interests, budget and time available. They will book you into recommended accommodation where you are assured of quality, comfort and hospitality - usually in 4 star B&Bs in Scottish homes.
The people of Orkney (some 15,000 in total), with their unique accent, do not see themselves as Scottish so much as Orcadian. Passenger ferry: A privately-run ferry operates daily during the summer from John O'Groats to Burwick on the southern tip of Orkney. For full timetable and price details see the John O'Groats Ferries web site.
For a long time the islands were owned by Norway, so they have a very mixed culture. It takes about 45 minutes to cross the Pentland Firth. Air: British Airways and British Airways Express fly to Kirkwall from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness, Wick, Sumburgh (Shetland).
Orkney Adventure tickets are available which enable you to visit 3 of these islands at special rates.
The fares to Papa Westray and North Ronaldsay are good bargains as they are subsidised. Vehicle Hire: Car hire is available in both Kirkwall and Stromness, as well as at the airport.
Fishing in the lochs is free in Orkney, although it's a good idea to join the Orkney Trout Fishing Association to find out where to go.