There's just a few days to go until the start of the fifth annual Orkney Nature Festival.
The popular event, which aims to celebrate the county's spectacular wildlife and wild places, runs from 15-21 May 2017.
Business, community groups, organisations and individuals from around Orkney have again come together, coordinated by the local RSPB Scotland team, to offer a packed programme.
This year's highlights include bike riding on Shapinsay, snorkelling and scuba diving, poetry and songwriting workshops, as well as the wildlife watching which is synonymous with the Festival. In keeping with tradition, the final event will be a grand wildlife cruise with NorthLink Ferries. There are also family-friendly events to give everyone a chance to explore the nature and wildlife of Orkney.
Alison Nimmo, coordinator for the Nature Festival partners and RSPB Scotland's Community Engagement Officer, said: "I almost can't believe that the Nature Festival is about to turn five. I hope we can make this year a celebration for those who worked so hard to get the Festival off the ground and for everyone who has run events and supported it along the way - and, as always, it's a chance to celebrate the wonderful wildlife and wild places that Orkney is famous for. I'd really encourage folk to come along to an event and explore Orkney's amazing wildlife in a new way."
This year, festival events take place throughout mainland Orkney as well as on Westray, Shapinsay, Egilsay and Sanday. They range from a 12km hike on Westray with spectacular cliff top scenery to a family walk along Stromness' west shore with fun activities along the way. In between there is the chance to try snorkelling and scuba diving or a tour of Shapinsay by bike. Folk wanting more gentle activities can explore the St Magnus Way around Birsay and be inspired to create a renga, which is a form of poetry that's over 1,000 years old. Or, for music lovers, there is a unique opportunity to discover or develop songwriting skills surrounded by the dramatic scenery at Mull Head.
Family events include a children's creative writing workshop and an exciting trail around Stromness inspired by the boyhood of Dr John Rae, the famous Arctic explorer. The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland's mobile classroom - a double-decker bus! - is the venue for some fun activities for all ages, organised by the Wild about Scotland team.
Then in a fitting finale to the week, NorthLink Ferries' MV Hamnavoe will travel along the West Mainland coast in support of both the Nature Festival and Stromness' Per Mare celebrations. Stuart Garrett, Managing Director at NorthLink Ferries, said: "We are looking forward to celebrating the Orkney Nature Festival once again this year. The wildlife cruise is a unique chance to enjoy the spectacular West Mainland coast from a different perspective. Passengers will be able to enjoy seeing caves and stacks along the rugged Yesnaby cliffs, the seabird colony at Marwick Head and much more whilst listening to live commentary and sampling local produce."
The full programme is available online at orkneynaturefestival.org and hard copies are available on request from the RSPB Scotland Orkney office (01856 850176).
Last Updated: Tuesday 28 August 2018