Guests ask advice on the best way to travel to Orkney and how to find Annie's Place once they arrive. So if you are wondering the same thing, here is a quick guide to both questions.
Travel to Orkney
Most people come by ferry but you can fly with Loganair to Kirkwall Airport via Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen or Inverness airports. It is possible to ‘do’ Orkney without a car, but if you’re flying you’ll probably want to hire a car. As Orkney is becoming more popular as a holiday destination, it is advisable to pre-book your hire car for collection at the airport.
There are three possible ferry routes. Two are run by Northlink-Serco; The Hamnavoe from Scrabster (near Thurso on the north coast) to Stromness, which is the closest destination for Annie’s Place, and The Hjatland from Aberdeen to Kirkwall. The third route is from Gills Bay, near Wick to St Margarets Hope and is operated by Pentland Ferries.
Both Northlink-Serco ferries provide a comfortable crossing with a range of services and activities provided on board, including comfortable seating, a restaurant with a wide menu, a small shop selling Orkney gifts, magazines, sweets etc and a bar selling drinks and snacks. There are also cabins available for the overnight crossing to Aberdeen or for sleeping overnight on the Hamnavoe if you are booked on an early morning sailing. Sailing times vary throughout the year with more ferries available during holiday periods.
The Aberdeen/Kirkwall route leaves at 17.00 and arrives in Kirkwall at 23.00 pm. The return journey involves overnight travel with various sleeping arrangement options, leaving Kirkwall at 23.00 and arriving at 07.00 in Aberdeen. These crossings are not every day and are on the Aberdeen to Shetland route..
For further information about the times and cost for both ferries contact Northlink ferries, see details below. If you have friends or family on Orkney then you may be able to arrange for a discount on the ferry crossings.
The Pentland ferry is a catamaran with basic catering and seating arrangements. The company have recently purchased a larger and more modern boat. This ferry journey is a slightly shorter crossing to Orkney than the ferry to Stromness, but as its passengers disembark at St Margaret's Hope, about 20 minutes south of Kirkwall, there is a longer travel time and distance from there to Annie's Place. Off season this ferry service runs more frequently than the Hamnavoe. For timetable and costs contact :
I hope this information and the links assist your decision making on how to travel to Orkney, but I’m always happy to give further advice if required.
Instructions for driving to Annie's Place;
From Kirkwall you take A965 (main road to Stromness) and travel along it, beyond Finstown, when shortly after the A986 turns off on right. Turn into A986 and continue on this road through Dounby (with local Coop, butcher and fuel). A few miles on the A967 (going to Stromness) turns into the A986 but you just keep going straight ahead through Twatt. For the final directions to Annie's Place from here, you should pick up on the relevant directions I have given below for travellers coming from Stromness.
From Stromness you take the A967 until it reaches the crossroads with A986 just before Twatt. You turn left onto the A986 and follow that road through Twatt with Loch of Boardhouse on your right handside.
You finally come to a final crossroad and turn left there, driving a short distance down towards the sea until you have reached the ruined Earl's Palace on your left. Then turn left into the road which takes you along the side of the Palace; take care as this road into the village turns left round the end of the Palace on a sharp narrow bend, and there may be a car coming in the opposite direction towards you. A few more metres driving takes you past the entrance to St Magnus Church on the right, and the entrance to Parking Area on the left. You will then be in centre of Palace Village. Palace Stores (now sadly closed) is on your right hand side. The lane leading up the right hand side of the shop is the lane for Annie's Place leading to the sea shore. You will see a blue door (and nameplate on the yellow lime - washed building) which is the entrance to Annie's Place.