In Amy Liptrot’s 2016 memoirThe Outrun, about her recovery from alcoholism, Orkney became a place to hide out. She had grown up among the purple heather and the wind-beaten plains, and they were to prove a backdrop to her healing. Now, her book may make Orkney a place that grabs the rest of the world’s attention: later this year, a film adaptation, starring and co-produced by Saoirse Ronan, will put those purple-heather filled fields on the big screen.
But there are other reasons why Orkney is becoming a favoured destination for a younger crowd, bringing a different flavour to the Scottish island than the travellers who arrive in Kirkwall each week from fleets of cruise ships. The recently redeveloped Scapa Flow Museum, telling the story of Orkney’s involvement in World War One and Two, was on this year’s prestigious Museum of the Year shortlist (the award eventually went to another Scottish attraction, The Burrell Collection in Glasgow). The mischievous Twitter account for Orkney Library frequently goes viral; it recently shared the news that a book about tomatoes had finally been returned after being on loan since January 1974. Conversations about the island becoming a self-governing territory of Norway have also hit headlines this year (although, on the ground, locals seem nonplussed by the proposal).
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And there are simpler, more stripped-back reasons, too; in our “always on” age of overwhelm, a retreat like Liptrot’s grows ever more appealing to burnt-out millennials. This is a place of rugged beauty, where it’s hard for the rest of the world to reach you – phone signal is non-existent. In Orkney, you can stop to catch your breath. It’s a good place to go and think, or not think at all.
It’s also a very good place to eat and drink. As Orkney’s stock continues to rise, it is steadily becoming a must-visit destination for discerning foodies. Not just thanks to the rising restaurant scene, but the sheer number of quality local suppliers, making everything from gin to whisky, cheese to fudge.
A look at the menu at The Storehouse, a handsome eatery visited by the Prince and Princess of Wales in 2021 and given the royal seal of approval, boasts the use of local produce…