Hello, my name is Mark Woodsford-Dean and I would love to show you around Orkney, my home since 2009. I qualified as an Orkney guide in 2017 and my particular interests are the folklore of Orkney, as well as prehistoric and Norse/Viking archaeology. I have excavated at the world famous Ness of Brodgar site and I continue to volunteer for various archaeological projects. I am also a semi-professional photographer, specialising in landscapes; some of my photographs have been published internationally.
I am in partnership with my wife, Helen (also an Orkney guide); we are available to hire as guides either together, or separately, depending on your needs or the size of your group.
Our approach to guiding is to try to offer our guests the time and the space to really sense, feel, and connect with the sites and the land here in Orkney. Plus we always try to include a visit to at least a few of the quieter and more secret sacred sites which tend to be away from the main tourist trails. Our specialism is looking after visitors who describe themselves as ‘pilgrims’, but you certainly don’t have to think of yourself as a pilgrim to tour with us.
Generally, we think our approach to guiding in Orkney is more ‘spiritual’, hence our partnership name: ‘Spiritual Orkney’.
Our tours can include as many sites as you choose, at your choice of pace – we plan every tour in advance and on a bespoke basis, tailoring the day to your exact requirements, taking into consideration any timing restraints and offering full flexibility on the day if needed. We never forget that how you spend your time in Orkney is YOUR choice, but our philosophy is: you are on holiday, island life is relaxed, why not relax into our pace too and get a real sense of the ‘true’ Orkney.
My own guiding style is calm and helpful – and I always try to include some stories – I am professional, courteous and informative. I am an accredited STGA Green Badge Guide, authorised and insured to provide tours around Orkney. I have a degree from Southampton University, another degree in History with the Open University (awarded 2019), and in 2023 I was awarded MLitt with Distinction in Archaeological Studies by Orkney College / University of the Highlands and Islands.
‘Spiritual Orkney’ is available to guide you around Orkney whichever time of the year you are visiting. Depending on your interests, we can focus on the must-sees of Orkney, have a themed tour, or you can tell us the sorts of things you are most interested in seeing and we will make appropriate suggestions and plan a route. We cannot guarantee that you will have a site to yourself, but we can advise when the quieter times will be and we are flexible enough to be able to guide you at those times.
I look forward to meeting you and to sharing these gorgeously beautiful islands with you.
Ceremonies such as handfastings, renewal of vows, and legal weddings