The beautiful island of Hoy stands out, literally, from its Orkney neighbours due to its rugged and dramatic sheer cliffs. The famous sea stack of the Old Man of Hoy is an impressive chimney of rock sitting alongside the cliffs, conquered only by the most accomplished climbers.
The northern part of the island has the best of this wonderful coastal character, with cliffs, high hills for walking and some fantastic beaches, such as at Rackwick Bay. Much of this area is a RSPB nature reserve, home to species such as Great Skua and Puffin.
The eastern side of Hoy is gentler and more populated, with its own attractions.
Overlooking the Scapa Flow, the main settlement of Lyness is home to a visitor centre and museum telling the fascinating story of the area in times of war. The Scapa Flow is a natural harbour between the islands, and as such has a long maritime and naval history. The wrecks of the German fleet still lie beneath, scuppered to prevent the ships falling into British hands, as well as the ill fated HMS Royal Oak, torpedoed by a U-boat in 1939.
Take the island walks and perhap the boat across to the small islands of Flotta or South Walls