A GUIDE to a whistle-stop weekend tour of the islands.
Friday, 2pm Check into the Lynnfield Hotel (doubles start from £115, www.lynnfieldhotel.co.uk), which sits next to the Highland Park distillery on Orkney’s mainland. Some rooms at this four-star bolthole boast extras like four-poster beds and spa baths.
3pm Check out Britain’s most northerly cathedral and also one of the finest medieval buildings in Scotland, St Magnus Cathedral (www.stmagnus.org). This vaulting red sandstone edifice was built by the Vikings in the 12th century.
8pm Savour dinner back at the Lynnfield Hotel, with an aperitif of sweet Scapa whisky from Orkney’s other distillery a few miles south. Then enjoy a seafood platter to start followed by a fillet of Orkney beef. The cheeseboard is also excellent.
Saturday, 10:30am The Orkney Museum (Tankerness House, tel: 01856 873535) is set dramatically in a deeply historic house. It tells the story of the 70-island archipelago from the Stone Age right through to modern times.
1pm The Orkney Real Food Café at Judith Glue (www.judithglue.com) serves up local delights such as Westray crab claws, smoked salmon and a variety of Orkney cheeses.
4pm Savour the world’s shortest scheduled flight, first flying Kirkwall to Papa Westray on the eight-seater Islander plane (www.loganair.com), before the strikingly short hop (flight time can be under a minute) to Westray and a third flight back to Kirkwall. You will be back in half an hour.
6pm Head south from the airport to the wee Isle of Burray where the Sands Hotel (www.thesandshotel.co.uk) awaits. Take a window seat and gaze out over Scapa Flow, watching the seabirds as you tuck into fresh seafood, steak and lamb.
Sunday, 9am Discover the ghosts of our ancestors at the Heart of Neolithic Orkney UNESCO World Heritage site (www.historic-scotland.gov.uk), with its stone circles, standing stones and ancient burial mounds. The highlight is Skara Brae, a perfectly preserved 5,000-year-old village.
• Return flights to Kirkwall from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness with Flybe franchise partner Loganair (www.flybe.com) start from £109.98. For tourist information see www.visitscotland.com