Veterans of roads less travelled will not mind the one hour ferry crossing of the Pentland Firth to the Royal Burgh of Kirkwall, capital of the Orkney Archipelago. Those in a hurry can take the flight from Glasgow, Edinburgh or Aberdeen (connections to London). The city’s architecture tells of a grand Norse past. The formidable red and yellow stone St Magnus Cathedral dates from the C11th and is one of Scotland’s finest. Those favouring earlier times will find tours from Kirkwall of Orkney’s ancient Neolithic sites, the greatest concentration in all Europe. Autumn is the time to visit in particular for nature lovers when the whole archipelago thrives with migratory birdlife, which can be seen on walks along wild and sometimes stormy headlands, or on organised boat tours. In the evening the harbour is the place to be with a good mix of bars and friendly island locals. Whiskey lovers will be interested in Kirkwall’s Highland Park Distillery, the northernmost distillery in the world.
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"Brush with the devil in the 'other' Frankfurt."
On the easternmost frontier of Germany and separated from Poland by the Oder river is the other Frankfurt. An hour by train from Berlin this is the birthplace of Heinrich von Kleist, the C18th playwright and author of Prinz Friedrich von Homburg. Magnificent, red brick Gothic buildings dominate this old Hanseatic outpost. The Marienkirche church includes unique and incredible C14th stained glass windows depicting the life of the very normal looking antichrist and his pack of demons. Wander over the river to Slubice, part of Frankfurt until 1945, for lunch in Poland.
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For those whose appetites don't stretch to a full meal, there can be no finer pub in Lakeland than the Golden Rule. Beautifully unchanged in decades, it is a haven for locals, walkers, tourists and anyone lucky enough to stumble across this hidden gem off the main street. Food is limited to excellent pork pies and scotch eggs and the ale is all from local breweries. Evening guests may find themselves participants in an impromptu singsong. A national treasure.
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