Orkney is a group of over 70 islands lying just to the north of Scotland, of which about 20 are inhabited. The first settlers to this fertile archepelago arrived over 6,000 years ago and there are many spectacular archaeological sites to visit from then to the present. The islands are green and fertile, with agreta feeling of space. Soft countryside merges with sky and sea into a confluence of nature and there is a great feeling of the immensity of time. Orkney has been described by local author George Mackay Brown as "like sleeping whales... beside an ocean in time".