Stromness is similar to Kirkwall in that it follows one long winding road - simply known as "the street" - also flagstoned, and also shared by pedestrian and motorist. This main street goes under at least five different names as it makes its was through Stromness. It is intersected by streets that on one side climb steeply up Brinkles Brae, the 300ft granite ridge that lies behind the town. On the seaward side they make their way between close-packed building to the private wharves that seem to lie behind every house and shop.
From this street a great number of narrow lanes and closes branch off. This gives the town a labyrinthine quality with steep narrow paths climbing the hillside on the north side of the street, while on the south, the houses and shops back onto the shore.
Life in the Orkney islands is, and always has been, steeped in tradition. These days, some of these customs remain strong while others have become mere shadows of their former selves - if not forgotten altogether. Stromness is today a bustling and charming town. It retains its remarkable main street in which pedestrians have to dodge cars, and cars one another. And there are few places that so amply reward exploration. The narrow passages and roads and the private wharves on the shore side are fascinating, as is the network of steep streets and paths lead up the hillside. One of the streets climbing Brinkles Brae between high walls rejoices in the name of the Khyber Pass. This is either a descriptive joke that stuck, or a celebration of Empire: take your pick.
The main harbour and its quays are now found towards the northern end of the centre of the town, and benefit from access via a new road along the shore that keeps traffic out of the north end of Stromness. This is a busy and interesting place, as well as one that gives the best views of Stromness itself. The harbour is also the terminal for the passenger-only ferry that connects Stromness with Graemsay and the north end of Hoy.
Stromness's prosperity is closely linked with the sea. Much of the locally caught crabs and lobsters are marketed through the Orkney Fishermen's Society and locally processed. There are still two boatyards in the town with firms manufacturing fudge, oatcakes and lemonade. Tourism has grown in importance and now includes sea angling and sub-aqua diving. The Stromness Shopping Week is held in July and the town is the centre of Orkney's famous Folk Festival.
Stromness Ferry Terminal
A little north from the harbour is the terminal for the main ferry linking Orkney with Scotland, to Scrabster, near Thurso. Since late 2002 this has been operated by NorthLink from a rebuilt terminal. Visitors to Orkney can now choose between the Scrabster service or the Pentland Ferries service linking Gills Bay near John o' Groats and St Margaret's Hope on South Ronaldsay. Orkney Ferries also operate a regular passenger ferry service from Stromness to Graemsay and Hoy and also operate all other inter-island services.
Stromness Ferry Terminal can be found at Orkney's main gateway - the busy port of Stromness.
The address is:
NorthLink Ferries, Ferry Road, Stromness, Orkney, KW16 3BH, United Kingdom.
Stromness ferry terminal facilities include:-
•Ticket Sales and Enquiries
•Tourist Information Centre
•Luggage area with lockers
•Hot and Cold Drinks Vending Machines
Parking at Stromness Terminal
There is short term parking available at the terminal, with long-stay parking available on Ferry Road, a short distance from the terminal.
Checking in at Stromness
Check-in for the 0630 sailing will open 60 minutes prior to departure. During mid and peak season passengers who have reserved an overnight cabin should check in and board for the 0630 sailing from Stromness between 2130 – 2330 the previous evening. Please note that overnight accommodation is not available on MV Hamnavoe in the winter months. For all other sailings check-in will open 90 minutes prior to departure. Car drivers are recommended to check in at least one hour prior to departure.