Here are a few reasons why Orkney won the Most Romantic Destination in the Mills & Boon #TheRomantics Awards 2015!
The Italian job
One of the most remarkable wartime symbols of peace, faith and love, this astonishing little chapel was created from two army Nissen huts by Italian prisoners of war, held on the tiny Orkney island of Lamb Holm during the 1940s. Inside you’ll discover exquisite religious artwork and the story of a passionate and enduring connection between Italy and Orkney.
Life’s a beach
Orkney has an abundance of breathtakingly beautiful, pristine and secluded beaches perfect for romantic walks. There’s a good chance you’ll see a selkie (seal) too, though with many local folklore legends about selkies shedding their skin and taking human form to woo shore-bound lovers, who knows where your wildlife spotting might end up. Newark Bay in Orkney’s east mainland is often associated with selkie tales, but Rackwick on the island of Hoy and the Bay of Skaill in Orkney’s west mainland are equally spectacular scenically.
Named Library of the Year in the 2015 Bookseller Industry Awards, the Orkney Library has rightly earned a massive social media following thanks to its hugely entertaining Tweets and passion for interacting with its local community. Well stocked with Mills & Boon novels and always delighted to welcome visitors, it’s the place to head on a rainy day – they’re open on sunny ones too – to get your holiday fix of romantic fiction.
Orkney has the highest proportion of craft jewellers in the UK, so you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to seeking a unique handmade gift for a loved one. From traditional designs inspired by Orkney’s rich history and culture, to more contemporary creations, quality is the thread that connects it all. The Orkney Crafts Association website is a good starting point when seeking gold and silver island treasures.
Let’s scallop(e) together
It’s not for us to say whether shellfish really is an aphrodisiac or not, but if you like it fresh, locally sourced and expertly cooked, Orkney’s skilled chefs certainly know their way around a plate of scallops. They’ll also cook you up sustainably hand-caught clams, razorfish (referred to locally as ‘spoots’), lobster and crab too. And, if shellfish isn’t your thing, there’s Orkney beef, cheese, ice cream, whisky, beer, oatcakes, fudge and all manner of other sensual, mouth-watering (and waistline altering) goodies available in the islands. Check out the Orkney Food and Drink website for more information.
The food of love
If music is the food of love, Orkney’s sure to satisfy the healthiest of appetites. This is a community that’s likes a good tune, with writing, performing and listening to music a big part of island life. The Orkney Folk Festival and St Magnus Festival are the highest profile musical and cultural events, but throughout the year you’ll hear traditional music, blues, jazz, rock and classical played in pubs and venues all over the islands. There’s a music centre and shop in Kirkwall too, so if you need a guitar (or ukulele) for a romantic song on the beach, you’re sorted.
Orkney weddings are the stuff of legend, with many traditions unique to the islands followed before, during and after the ceremony. One of these is the cog – a double-handled wooden vessel, filled with a heated mix of home brew, spices and spirits – which is passed around eager guests by the bride and groom at the evening dance. Pace yourself though, it’s powerful stuff, with a sip rather than a pint being the recommended intake. If you aren’t lucky enough to be invited to an Orkney wedding you can find a traditional cog recipe here, or even buy your own authentic cog from an island craftsman.
Better still, come to Orkney, get married and enjoy a honeymoon you’ll never, ever forget. Helen and Mark, the official Pagan celebrants at Spiritual Orkney, carry out fully legal weddings, blessings, handfastings and personalised rituals at the Ring of Brodgar stone circle, amongst other spectacular and enchanting island locations.