Flotta | Seonaid Swanney

Island intro

Flotta is a small island which forms part of the Orcadian archipelago. Explore the Second World War sites which are scattered across the island, and learn more about the island’s history, both recent and long-passed, at the local heritage centre.

Ask an Islander

We asked locals on Flotta to tell us why their island is special. Here’s what they said:

Sitting at the entrance to Scapa Flow, this small island has a big wartime history, and played an important role as a base for the Royal Navy. Flotta played an important role during both World Wars as a strategic naval base. Thousands of servicemen and women were stationed on the island and reminders of the conflict can be found across the landscape.

During the Second World War, the Neb Battery looked over towards the Hackness Martello Tower in Hoy. The remains of the many huts and buildings can be explored including the pump house, the lower dam, higher dam as well as the battery and ammunition stores. Again during the Second World War, the island hosted a boxing match with an audience of around 10,000 troops. A photograph of the event can be found in the Imperial War Museum in London.

These days, the remains of military buildings and structures can still be found across the island and often provide excellent places to observe the local wildlife or admire views across Scapa Flow.

From the island’s highest point, The Witter, you can enjoy panoramic views across to the Hoy hills, Mainland Orkney, Burray and South Ronaldsay. Here, it is even possible to see the towns of Kirkwall and Stromness at the same time.

The oil terminal, which opened in 1976, can be found on the north side of the island. The 223-foot flare is now a much-recognised landmark.

A sculptured slab found at the site of a ruin of what is thought to be an ancient church is now part of the National Museum of Scotland’s collections in Edinburgh. Named the Flotta Stone, it is thought to date back to the 8th century.

Visitors are often surprised by the ‘forest’ created in the Second World War when the Royal Navy planted 1,000 trees. Only around 10 per cent survived the Orkney climate, but the oil terminal operators have since added a further 40,000 trees and shrubs.

Getting Here

Orkney Ferries  operates multiple daily sailings between Flotta and Houton on Mainland Orkney.

Find out more about getting to Mainland Orkney.

Explore More

Want to find out more about Flotta and explore more of our amazing islands?

Download the free Scottish Islands Passport app to:

  • discover your perfect island match,
  • find out about the experiences each island has to offer,
  • collect passport stamps for the islands you visit,
  • find information on accommodation, travel and island amenities.

Get Your Passport

You can find lots more information about things to see and do on the island, see some amazing island photography and collect your island stamp by downloading our app.

Download the app

App in phone

Download the Scottish Island Passport app to collect your island stamps! The app also provides lots more information on each island including recommendations from locals about things to see and do, info on how to get around, more stunning photos and useful offline maps.

  • Unlock Stamps - Collect them all! Stamp your passport when you visit each island - with an individual stamp designed to represent a unique aspect of island heritage.
  • Experiences - Discover the best experiences each island has to offer – from local boat trips to exciting traditional festivals, there is something for everyone.
  • Maps - Navigate the islands with useful offline maps, handy for areas where internet connectivity is weak.
  • Travel Jounals - Create an in-location travel journal with pictures from your island adventures, to look back on your trip.
  • Favourites - keep track of your most loved islands with the favourites feature. Available to access from your account on both the app and web.