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KIRKWALL Kirkwall is a beautiful old town with lovely architecture and many interesting historical sights (see below).Its name comes from the Old Norse word Kirkjuvagr meaning "church bay" relating to a long since disappeared church.

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Kirkwall has many shops and businesses including: hotels, post office, banks, travel agents, pharmacies, grocers, computer supplies, supermarket, numerous cafés, fish and chip shops, Chinese and Indian restaurants, etc.

The Kirkwall BID (Business Improvement District) web site includes a town directory and events list.

Bird watching is another popular activity, as is diving around the wrecks.

Orkney was an important strategic site for the British navy during both World Wars and the Germans scuttled their fleet here in 1919.

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).

There is an excellent public library dating from 1683 (the oldest in Scotland) which has Internet access. There are lots of free information leaflets and videos to watch about the history and wildlife of the islands. Open all year, it has tours and visitor centre with a shop.

By the harbour you will find the Wireless Museum which moved here from St. It is a huge unique collection of wartime communications equipment, wireless sets, headphones, old magazines, ancient valves and lots of other displays.

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.

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