|Kirkwall is one of my favourite destinations in the UK. I'm based at Biggin Hill where I rent PA28's from Cabair and I usually find time to get up to Scotland at least once a year. This year we spent a week on Orkney and enjoyed some great summer weather.
The airfield is friendly and professional, there's lots of scheduled traffic in and out. There's a friendly flying club The Orkney Flying Club that operates a C172 and will happily rent it to visiting pilots if you find yourself there without a plane to hand. They are also happy to let you squeeze your plane into their hangar if you ask nicely, which is a good idea given the kind of storms that often blow across the islands.
The weather is the main thing to watch out for as it changes so quickly. I've gone up for a quick spin round the Old Man of Hoy and the tallest sea cliffs in the UK in glorious sunshine only to be presented with FEW003 SCT004 BKN006 on return half an hour later. With the new ILS installed things are easier in such circumstances and sometimes it blows across in a short time but a close eye on conditions is vital, especially the notorious crosswinds. I've arrived before now from Inverness to be faced with G45 luckily straight down the runway but knowing your alternates is important for trips to Kirkwall and plenty of reserve fuel is a good idea as ever.
There are strips on most of the islands around Orkney although some can get a bit short but it's ideal for island hopping. A nice day trip from Kirkwall is Shetland, about 90 miles across the sea to the North East and you really start to feel like a ferry pilot losing the KWL VOR behind and not yet picking up Sumburgh, a GPS is a welcome comfort, as is the sight of Fair Isle through the clouds.
All in all Kirkwall is a wonderful, exciting place to visit, and Orkney itself is full of pre-historic sites such as the amazing 5,500 year old houses at Skara Brae complete with underfloor central heating. Give yourself a day or two spare either side of planned arrival and departure dates to cope with inclement weather and if you get stuck there for a week there are some great pubs to hole up in till the rain clears. Enjoy.