Scapa Flow Visitor Centre

The Orkney News is running a series of articles on Orkney’s World War II sites and wartime experiences. 

The Scapa Flow Visitor Centre is situated at Lyness on the island of Hoy.  It houses an amazing collection of artefacts and memorabilia from World War I and World War II. The daily ferry will take you from Houton on Mainland the short distance across water to Lyness and from there it is a very easy walk to the museum which has free admission.

Lyness 6

Scapa Flow Visitor Centre Lyness (F Grahame)

Outside, large military equipment is positioned and the area is fenced using the old submarine netting which was once placed below water to stop U-Boats from getting near ships at anchor waiting to be refueled.

On Hoy can be seen the remains of what was once the main naval base for Britain and the Allied forces, HMS Prosperine (Lyness), during World War II. The visitor centre itself is located within the old pumping station and is simply hotching with exhibits. There is so much information to take in you really have to limit yourself to what you want to see or to make sure you have plenty of time before your return ferry arrives.

railway on Lyness

wide gauge railway tracks at Lyness (F Grahame)

Outside there is yet more to see with an underground shelter and pieces of the wide gauge railway track still in situ. Within what was an oil storage container there are vehicles and other forms of military transport from the era.

Make sure you also have time to visit the Lyness Cemetery where the cost of war in young lives lost is written in stone. It is maintained by the War Graves Commission and is beautifully kept. The names and religions on the gravestones are international. A small part of Orkney that meets the World.


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Reporter: Fiona Grahame

More information including the geocache adventure you can have can be found at Explore World War II Hoy and Walls

Opening Times

  • 1 March 2017 – 30 April 2017   Monday – Saturday, from 10:00 to 16:30.
  • 1 May 2017 – 30 September 2017  Sunday – Saturday, from 10:00 to 16:30.
  • 1 October 2017 – 31 October 2017 Monday – Saturday, from 10:00 to 16:30.
  • 1 November 2017 – 28 February 2018  Closed.

There is also a two hour guided walk at 11:00 every Tuesday from April 4 onwards. It costs £5.00 and follows the route of the Lyness Wartime Trail using 1940s photographs of the area to bring the history of the naval base alive. Booking is advised.

Contact: Telephone: 01856791300.

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