An explorer's guide to the islands of Britain

58.827129, -3.118450
Distance: 18.9 km
Difficulty: 1/5
Method: Walking
Wow Factor: 8 out of 10

Key Facts

  • Location: Orkney
  • Size: 876 hectares
  • Terrain: Grass paths, tracks or quiet island roads
  • Access: Ferry
  • Height gain: 270 metres
  • Map: OS Explorer 462
  • Starting point: Flotta ferry terminal. Lat/Long 58.837879, -3.128490;
  • Accommodation/food:

    Toilets at the ferry terminal and community centre along with hot and cold refreshments (seasonal opening times tel. 01856 701219). General store next to the museum. Self catering cottage, B&B and hostel on the island.

  • Island Summary:

    Flotta sits at the southern entrance of Scapa Flow and completes the circle of islands that protect this centre of calm and stunning natural beauty from the wilds of the North Sea. Its profile is dominated by a glowing flare stack and huge wind turbine which both tower above any other structure in Orkney. The rest of the island is made up of the wild Golta and Stanger Heads and West Hill or is quietly farmed with lush grass meadows that gently slope to the sea.

  • Look out for:
    • Spot whales and dolphins
    • Some of the best wartime relics
    • Geos and stacks at Stanger Head
    • Puffins at Stanger Head
    • Great views across Scapa Flow
  • Route description:

    This coastal circuit follows the easy Flotta Trail on a generally unmarked path that takes in the impressive and beautiful coastal formations and seascapes. The route also visits the vast array of atmospheric wartime ruins and artifacts from when it was the UK’s chief naval base during both world wars. If ferry times permit there is an extension to spot the wildlife on the remote and wild Golta Head after passing the fascinating works of one of the countries most important oil terminals.

  • Getting there:

    Ferry from Lyoness, Hoy or Houton, mainland Orkney by Orkney Ferries. (Tel. 01856 872044, http://www.orkneyferries.co.uk ).

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