Orkney has featured in the Guardian this week as a possible relocation destination for those seeking an escape from city life. Obviously you would want to visit first before making such a move. Why not combine your fact-finding trip with a holiday and see what Orkney has to offer. To get the most realistic experience, it would be best to visit early or late in the year when there are fewer visitors and the weather is more likely to be showing its teeth (although Spring is Orkney is actually very beautiful).
Highand Park House is open from 1st April until mid October.
St. Magnus has been given a make over. Our local hero/Icon/poster boy is looking remarkably good for someone who was violently killed in the `12th Century. Using modern techniques, his face has been reconstructed from photographs taken of his remains. The bones were found during renovation work on the cathedral in the 1920s and have long since been reinterred in the building.
HIs monument is the magnificent cathedral in Kirkwall. This astonishing building never fails to impress our visitors and is a must for anyone coming to Orkney. A display in the cathedral explains who Magnus was and how he came to meet his grisly end, as well as why he was made a saint.
Orkney’s major international Arts festival in June is also named after St Magnus.
This exciting three part documentary featuring Orkney shows how much these islands have to offer in terms of ancient history. The programme focuses on the Ness of Brodgar, where exciting discoveries are rewriting the theories about Ancient Britain.
Orkney is rich in archaeology and most of the associated sites mentioned in the programmes, including the Ness of Brodgar, Skara Brae and the Tomb of the Eagles are an easy drive from Highland Park House. Many of our guests are keen visitors to these sites and we also have archaeologists and volunteer helpers staying with us. This leads to many a lively discussion around the breakfast table.
We look forward to welcoming all visitors, experts and enthusiasts this year. The Summer of 2017 promises to yield exciting new discoveries as the dig progresses.
These dark winter days make us think of Summer. As we get to mid December, the sun barely rises more than a few degrees above the horizon and the light is gone well before four in the afternoon. Despite this, the maritime climate keeps us warmer than many places in the UK. However, these short days remind us that we we have next Summer to look forward to. By the time we get to the St Magnus Festival which falls on the Summer solstice, we will be enjoying days that never seem to end. Weather permitting, it will once again be possible to read by the light of the midnight sun which barely dips below the horizon. The long drawn out evenings bring us spectacular sunsets that change every minute, but seem to last for hours. It’s not hard to imagine how important these turning points must have been to our ancestors and it’s no wonder that they have left so many monuments behind that are designed to mark the passage of the sun and the seasons. We can’t wait!
We were honoured to have Gnoss play at Highland Park House a year or two back and it is great to see that they are doing so well. Currently Glasgow based, local boys Aidan Moodie and Graham Rorie play a mean guitar and fiddle, romping through traditional tunes and self written tunes with astonishing confidence and ability. They put a CD out a while back and it looks like they have been regrouping and recording new material. You can catch up with them here:
or search for @gnossmusic
Orkney is a fantastic place for wildlife at any time of year, however, the talk of the moment is the arrival of unusual numbers of Waxwings. This year has also been very good for goldcrests.
Things are quieter in Orkney now although we do still have rooms open for visitors until mid December. Our dedicated crew of chickens haven’t realised this yet and we are snowed under with fresh eggs.
We are taking advantage of this relative down time to make some exciting changes and alterations. The old theatre/rehearsal space will reopen in the Spring as a Music Room/ Sitting Room. Guests will be able to gather in the evening, sinking into sumptious Chesterfield furniture. There will be table space to work during the day too. The room will be decorated with musical instruments as well as a working wind-up gramaphone. However, these are not just for show. Along with the Challen piano, they are properly set up working instruments and the room will still host occasional intimate concerts and recitals.
We have also acquired more land around the building. This will give us opportunities to develop and expand the business in due course.
Needless to say, this magnificent, but old building requires plenty of upkeep and through the WInter we have a team of excellent tradesmen improving and developing the ground floor accommodation in the West wing.
On Saturday 9th. We have a Storytelling Event in the theatre at Highland Park House.
On Sunday 10th. also in the theatre we have the fabulous Jo Philby. As well as listening to her lovely music, you can book a vintage tea – Strawberries and cream and a range of teas served in authentic vintage china. What a great way to round off the weekend. Booking is essential.
The concert starts at 7.30 pm £8 pay on the door
Cream teas available between 6 and 7pm. £4.50 (please book in advance)
Booking is advised- call 01856 876077 or message Highland Park House