If you’re dreaming of wide open spaces and the feeling of being far, far away from the stresses of everyday life then we only have one word – Orkney. This smattering of islands and skerries off Scotland’s north coast sit pretty, surrounded by clear seas, and no matter which one you set foot on there’s an adventure just waiting to make you fall in love with the area.

The largest of the islands is Mainland, and this is where you’ll find the most people, the most going on and the most to keep you entertained. Let’s start with the history…with a UNESCO World Heritage Site to its name thanks to the Heart of Neolithic Orkney, it’s safe to say that there’s nowhere quite like this windswept area with its secrets and its sacred sites. The Ring of Brodgar, the prehistoric village of Skara Brae and the chambered tomb of Maeshowe have made Orkney one of the most important historic sites in the world, and it’s difficult to imagine that they’ve stood for more than 5000 years.

If it’s long walks on beaches you’re after then you can take your pick, the islands boast more than 85 beaches altogether, and one of our favourites has got to be Mill Bay on the island of Stronsay. There’s a rock formation called Mermaid’s Chair on the beach, and if you sit in it it’s rumoured that you’ll be able to peer into your future…let us know if you succeed as we’ve yet to try!

There’s one activity that draws visitors to Orkney in their thousands, and that’s birdwatching. Thanks to its location, the region’s the perfect place to try and catch sight of some of the most significant bird species to Scotland’s name. The best time to visit for birdwatching is between April and July, and the start of summer sees the sea-cliff reserves welcome rare birds in their tens of thousands.