This guide is designed to help visitors to our islands, as well as residents, find their way around and enjoy the many sites and places of interest which can be visited. As well as the main sites, many of the less-frequented places and islands are described. It is hoped that folk will find the same pleasure as the author in discovering Orkney - we have some of the best archaeological sites and bird-watching opportunities in Europe and so much else to see and do that you will certainly want to come back for longer next time!Scapa Flow aerial from east. After the rugged Highland scenery of the North of Scotland, first impressions of Orkney are of greenness and fertility, combined with a feeling of space where undulating, soft countryside merges with sky and sea into a soft confluence of nature. There is an overall feeling of the immensity of time, perhaps due to the proximity of so much history. Indeed the Orkney Islands have been described by our local author, George Mackay Brown, as "like sleeping whales ...beside an ocean of time". Although people first came to these islands well over 6,000 years ago, leaving a wealth of archaeological sites and remains, which allows much insight into the past, Orkney is far from being a museum. Within our islands there is a huge range of things to see and do in all seasons. With its diverse economy it is a busy place, and yet at the same time unspoilt, quiet and relaxing. The old and the new, the natural environment and the geographical location all merge to give the islands their uniquely attractive atmosphere. Sunset at Ring of Brodgar As the Orcadian writer Edwin Muir said in his Scottish Journey (1935), Orkney...has managed, as far as that is humanly possible, to have its cake and eat it. It has been saved by being just outside the circumference of the industrial world, near enough to know about it, but too far off to be drawn into it. Now it seems to me that this is the only way in which any community can achieve a partial salvation today and live a desirable life, surrounded by an industrial world. This is even more true over half a century later. Orkney today benefits from many of the good things of the late 20th century, whilst at the same time missing out on most of the less desirable aspects. However it is much more affected by the outside world than ever before, and Orcadians are going to have to work hard in future to maintain all that is special about Orkney.