About Michael Hartley

(15 March 1938 - 09 February 2019)

  • Founder
  • Qualified Professional Orkney Tourist Guide
  • Naturalist and Historian.

Michael, the founder of Wildabout Orkney, sadly passed away in February 2019. He is deeply missed and the text below was written by Michael during his time running the Wildabout business:

I have been both an educator and explorer for most of my life. Even as a young boy living in Manchester, I longed to experience new adventures. In my teen years, I organised England and Ireland cycling holidays through my local youth hostel association and later, following my national service, I moved to Southampton where I formed and lead the local branch of the World Wildlife Fund’s youth club, the Wildlife Rangers.

Then, a chance meeting afforded me the opportunity to take a position at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in Gloucestershire. After a year with the Trust, I was honoured when Sir Peter Scott himself recognised my youth work and recommended me for a position in the education department where I became assistant to the education officer and was primarily responsible for educating visiting school parties.

Later, as a member of the Gloucestershire Trust for Nature Conservation, I was instrumental in the formation of their youth division, the Watch Trust for Environmental Education. Then, fate took a hand once again when a guest speaker offered me the chance to assist in opening and developing an environmental field study centre in Orkney. Three days later, my family and I agreed to move to Orkney despite never having been there before.

By the time it was decided that the field study centre plans would not be going forward, I had already relocated and fallen in love with Orkney. I had been deeply touched by the spirituality of its ancient past which renewed my inner spirit.

After 25 years of youth environmental education, I decided to combine my two passions, teaching and Orkney, and, in 1990 Wildabout was born. Over the years, I have been fortunate to cross paths with many guests who have enriched my life.

One such meeting happened in April 2005 when I took a Canadian lady on tour. Within the first hour of meeting Christie, I was in love, and by the end of the following day, I was certain she was too. One year later, to the day, we were married at Woodwick House here in Orkney and have been running Wildabout together ever since.
It has been more than two decades since I began touring Orkney and I still venture out each morning, looking forward to introducing new guests to its beauty and wonders. I truly am Wildabout Orkney and always will be. ~ Michael Hartley