Internal ferry services are operated by Orkney Ferries Limited between the Orkney mainland and thirteen of the smaller islands. Details about Orkney Ferries services are available from the Orkney Ferries website or by calling 01856 872044.
Residents are reminded that the draft inter-island air and ferry service timetables are presented to the Community Councils for consideration in advance of the Air and Ferry Consultative Forums, held biannually.
A transport representative is elected from each island Community Council to attend the Forums to outline the requests from the community in respect of the proposed timetables for the following summer or winter. These meetings are generally held in August, to discuss the future summer timetable, and during February to discuss the winter timetable for the following year. The timetables are then finalised, taking into consideration the points raised at the Forum where possible. A report is then presented to the Orkney Ferries Board with the final draft timetables for consideration. Subsequently, a report is presented to the Council’s Development and Infrastructure Committee (September and March of each year), outlining the points raised at the Forum, the Orkney Ferries Board and any significant amendments proposed to the timetable. The Committee are asked to consider and then approve the ferry timetables for the following summer/winter. In respect of the air services timetable, a similar report is presented to the Development and Infrastructure Committee for consideration and approval however the report must be presented to Full Council for final approval.
Any special timetable requests by the community, for example to coincide with island events during the year, must be raised by the transport representative at the forum so that these can be considered before the timetables are finalised. Once the timetables have been presented to Committee/Full Council and have been approved, then the timetables are passed to the operators to upload onto their booking system. Please note that timetable changes cannot be considered by Orkney Ferries or the Transportation Service after the timetables have been officially approved unless in exceptional circumstances.
External ferry services to the Scottish mainland are provided by three operators. Links to the websites are available from the 'Related Sites' section of this page.
NorthLink Ferries operates passenger and vehicle services between Stromness, Orkney and Scrabster, Mainland and between Kirkwall, Orkney and Lerwick, Shetland and Aberdeen on the Mainland. Information on NorthLink Ferries is available from the Northlink Ferries website or by telephone on 0845 6000449.
Pentland Ferries Limited operates a passenger and vehicle service between St Margaret’s Hope in Orkney and Gills Bay on the Mainland. Information on Pentland Ferries is available from the Pentland Ferries website or by phoning the reservation line on 0800 6888998.
John o’ Groats Ferries operates a passenger only service between Burwick in Orkney and John o’ Groats on the Mainland from the 1 May to 30 September. Information on John o’Groats Ferries is available from the John o’Groats Ferries website or by telephone on 01955611353.
There are two rail routes, firstly the North Highland Line from Inverness to Thurso and Wick, and then the East Coast services from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee to Aberdeen. Further details on rail services are available on the ScotRail website or by telephoning National Rail Enquiries on 08457484950.