Grand Tour Of Scotland: Exploring Orkney #213

Day 7: 17 August 2019 ~ Kirkwall Fire Station

Fire Station, Kirkwall, Orkney, Scotland
  • Location: Kirkwall Fire Station, Kirkwall, Orkney, Scotland
  • Date Taken: 2019-08-17
  • Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II
  • Lens: Canon Zoom Lens EF-S 18-200 mm F/3-5.6 IS
  • Exposure Program: Manual
  • F-Stop: f/5
  • Exposure Time: 1/640 sec
  • ISO Speed: ISO-400
  • Focal Length: 28 mm
  • Metering Mode: Center Weighted Average
  • Handheld


Kirkwall is the largest town in Orkney, an archipelago to the north of mainland Scotland. The name Kirkwall comes from the Norse name Kirkjuvágr, which later changed to Kirkvoe, Kirkwaa and Kirkwall. Kirkwall was formerly the site of an ancient Norse town founded approximately 1000 years ago.

By 1046 Kirkwall was a farming and market center, and in 1137 the Norse Earl Rognvald commenced the building of St Magnus Cathedral here. Work began a little later on the construction of the nearby Bishop’s Palace.

The Orkney Library and Archive is in Kirkwall. Kirkwall also has the most northerly of the world’s Carnegie libraries, which was opened by Andrew Carnegie and his wife in 1909. The building survives, although the library has since moved to a larger building on Junction Road.

The town has two museums, the larger being The Orkney Museum in Tankerness House, which contains items of local historical interest within one of Scotland’s best-preserved 16th-century town-houses. It is a Category A listed building Scotland. The prehistoric, Pictish and Viking collections are of international importance. The other museum is the Orkney Wireless Museum, dealing with the history of radio and recorded sound.

There is a Royal National Lifeboat Institution lifeboat station.

One of the major annual events in the town is the Ba Game, held each Christmas Day and New Year’s Day between the Uppies and the Doonies, each team representing one half of the town.

Kirkwall’s geography takes a little working out, but is in reality pretty straightforward. Harbour Street runs east to west along the waterfront, with the port facilities extending to its north. It is connected to the south by the medieval dog-leg pattern of Bridge Street and Albert Street to Kirkwall’s other main point of focus, Broad Street. This in turn is fronted by St Magnus Cathedral, the Town Hall, and the Orkney Museum. And just around the corner are the Bishop’s and Earl’s Palaces.

Most of Kirkwall’s excellent shopping is to be found in Bridge and Albert Streets, whose narrowness and architectural value would do considerably credit to somewhere better know for its medieval street pattern like York. A word of warning. These streets are paved, but only “semi-pedestrianized”. As a result pedestrians have to dodge a steady stream of vehicles making their way from the harbour to the Cathedral. This is a shame: this traffic is all that prevents shopping in Kirkwall being a truly idyllic experience.

Thank you very much for taking the time to join me on my travels through Scotland one Photo at a time. I hope you enjoyed it just as much as I did.

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Till next time, safe travels and keep dreaming.

Have a fabulous day.