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Travels to Orkney

I was 17 the first time I visited Orkney. I have happy memories of Hoy and Skara Brae; Tomb of the Sea Eagles and the Italian Chapel; ferries and youth hostels, wildlife and folk songs – indeed there is one I still sing to this day! I have been many times since, one memorable experience was driving over the Churchill Barriers on my way back from the Craigie’s in the dead of night in a gale – when waves crashed over the car out of the velvet black and I remember turning heavy rock up extra loud on the radio to make me brave!!

More recently, Sheila Fleet designed our wedding rings and Orkney is still as wonderful as ever with its heady mix of art and ancient history, produce and landscape, flora and fauna…not to mention its wonderful people.

For excellent food and warm hospitality in the heart of

Kirkwall right beside Highland Park Distillery, look no further than the Lynnfield Hotel . This has a real character of the past with beautiful Orcadian furniture, fine antiques in the bedrooms and restful parlours in which to savour the local malt. There may be gracious design from the past but when it comes to the en suite bathrooms they are cutting edge in modern design. Menus are full of local produce and delicious with a good range from seafood platters to North Ronaldsay mutton and a creative dessert menu to follow.

Orkney is blessed with its own ice cream too, The Orkney Creamery at Crantit Dairy where local milk is still delivered in their own fleet of vans and cream made into delicious artisan ice cream – now onto 4th generation at Crantit, the Bichan family are huge supporters of all things Orkney and can often be seen at the Royal Highland Show on the Orkney Stand. With a great range of flavours there are delicious tastes for every gourmet.

As an Orkney chair fan and owner I couldn’t resist seeing them being made and dropped in on Jackie & Marlene Miller of Scapa Crafts Orkney Chairs and had a lovely chat. It is such a fabulous skill to have and their island chairs are so distinctive and beautiful. A must when you visit Orkney. We visited a great many eating places and producers whilst on Orkney, and even though we didn’t make it out to the smaller isles we still tasted their produce so look out for more new additions on Scottish Food Guide soon.

We spent our last night at The Foveran Restaurant with Rooms where the Doull family have transformed and extended the original building creating a modern stylish venue with stunning views across Scapa Flow, on the outskirts of Kirkwall. Paul Doull is recognised as one of Orkney’s top chefs and has consistently won awards for his creative use of the island produce. A typical menu will include beremeal bannock, Kirkwall Bay Shellfish’ scallops, lobsters; Jollys of Orkney excellent smoked fish from their own kiln and prime Orkney steaks. Their amazing seascape tapestries are designed locally and make for a memorable dining experience with sea views to match. The bedrooms are also impeccable and a pleasure to stay in.

A visit to Orkney would not be complete without finding the home of Slow Food Ark of Taste Beremeal, currently only available from Barony Mills where Rae Phillips has milling in his blood! His forefathers were millers here and Rae returned to be Miller for the Birsay Heritage Trust. Built in 1837 it has remained relatively unchanged and Rae prides himself in using the original machinery and techniques to make high quality Beremeal. Beremeal is flour made from Bere, an old variety of six-row barley described as having an earthy, slightly astringent, nutty flavour. Traditionally used to make a bannock, a specialty of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.

On the subject of grain, the inaugural Scottish Bread Championships will be held at this year’s Royal Highland Show by RHASS in June – very exciting indeed! The awards mark the first time real bread has been highlighted at the Highland Show and were created and convened by Scotland the Bread and Scottish Food Guide. Open to both professional and amateur bakers, all exhibits in each of the seven categories must be made without the use of processing aids or any other artificial additives.

The seven Championship classes are: sourdough bread; bread from Scottish-grown flour; a traditional or ancient Scottish recipe; a bread excelling in nutritional quality; a Scottish plain loaf; a gluten-free bread; and certified organic bread.


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