Scapa Flow Visitor Centre and Museum, Lyness, Hoy
This is a fascinating museum for those keen on military history and the role Orkney played during the two world wars.
For visitors from mainland Orkney there is a ferry to Lyness from the Houton terminal in Orphir. It is a 40-minute journey and then an easy five-minute walk from the pier to the gates of the museum. Entry is free and most of the site is suitable for wheelchair users.
During the summer months The Pumpwell Café supplies soup, sandwiches, hot food and home-made cakes and biscuits. There are also picnic sites around the museum.
The museum is housed in the oil-pumping station of the former naval base at Lyness. The base was originally built to supply fuel to the British Fleet, which was based in Scapa Flow.
Outside the museum are some of the guns salvaged from the scuttled World War I German Fleet; the propeller from HMS Hampshire, which was sunk during the same war; and remains of some of the boom defence nets, designed to prevent enemy ships entering Scapa Flow.
Also outside are the remains of the railway tracks, once used to transport goods from the pier to the base.
At the far end of the site it is possible to walk through one of the remaining air-raid shelters and visit the Romany Hut, which houses more military vehicles as well as boats.
A vast photographic collection tells the story of the base during the two world wars.
During World War II, Hoy was home to more than 20,000 servicemen and women. As well as accommodation huts, there were supply stores, a post office, recreation rooms and even a cinema. Their arrival had a huge impact on the island and this is shown in many of the displays.
Other exhibits include the flag from the Hindenburgh and a name plate from HMS Royal Oak.
Although oil tanks were removed from the site, along with many of the other buildings, one of the oil tanks was retained and this is now an interpretation centre, which houses some of the larger artefacts such as a bren-gun carrier, a searchlight, military vehicles, a lighthouse lens and a boat that sailed to Orkney from occupied Norway.
Near the museum is a memorial, unveiled in 2009, to those who served with the Arctic Convoys during World War II. These convoys transported four million tonnes of crucial supplies and munitions to the Soviet Union between 1941 and 1945. During this dangerous mission over 3,000 men died during their duty and over 100 ships were lost.
Museum opening hours
1 March to 30 April: Monday to Friday, 9am-4.30pm
1 May to 30 September: Monday to Saturday, 9am-4.30pm; Sunday, from arrival of first ferry to 4pm
1 to 31 October: Monday to Saturday, 9am-4.30pm
1 November to end of February: museum is closed.
The Naval Cemetery
The Lyness Royal Naval Cemetery is not far from the museum. The walk there will take around 10 to 15 minutes. This is the last resting place of some of the men who were lost on the Vanguard, Hampshire, Opal, Narborough and the Royal Oak. Also interred are 14 sailors of the German Navy.
The cemetery is beautifully kept, the memorials are touching and the site is humbling.
Ferry terminal building
While waiting for a return ferry at Lyness visitors may take a minute to look at the memorial plaque on the side of the ferry terminal building. It commemorates the work of Ernest Cox, of Cox & Danks. His company salvaged many of the scuttled German fleet ships between the two world wars. Many of the salvaged ships were brought to Lyness, where the company had a base, before being towed south.