IT is one of Scotland's furthest-flung outposts, renowned for the beauty of its landscape and its links to the deep past.

Now Orkney has been deemed the best place to live in the country in a survey that measures the quality of life of each local authority region in the UK.

People on the isles rated their home highly when it came to their happiness and overall satisfaction with their lives, while the area also boasts high employment and relatively generous wages.

This is the second year that Orkney has been at the top of the Scottish section of the Halifax Quality of Life survey, after it took the crown from Aberdeenshire in 2013.

The region is the only Scottish council area to make it into the top fifty in the UK, scraping in at 47th place. The survey draws on a wide range of data to analyse each of the countries regions and place them in order.

Life expectancy on Orkney was said to be a higher-than-average 78.8 years, while nine out of 10 people reported they were fit and well.

Employment in the area was estimated at 83.8 per cent, while the poll also praised Orkney's low crime rate, high level of education, small class sizes and easily manageable "traffic flow".

Orcadian Jim Hewitson, who moved to the Papa Westray 35 years ago after growing up in Clydebank, said that it offered a way of life which is hard to find on the mainland.

He said: "What you have up here is the fantastic landscape and the wide-open spaces all around you. There is also a sense of community where you look out for your neighbours.

"We have around 70 people living here and its quite a mix. There are not too many Scots from the mainland but there are people from England who have sold up and moved north because they buy a substantially bigger house here.

"The schools are good and the class sizes are small, and children learn a sense of independence which maybe stands them in good stead later in life."

Steven Heddle, who is the Convener at Orkney Islands' Council, added: "It's very pleasing that Orkney has retained its crown for the best quality of life in Scotland.

"It's down not only to our environment but also to the people who live here, who combine a strong and traditional sense of community with a forward-thinking, can-do attitude that makes this a very special place to live and work."

The district of Hart in north east Hampshire was said to be the most desirable place to live, the fourth year in succession it has taken the top spot.

The area remained in the number one slot based on its high performance in a wide range of measures, including: residents' health and life expectancy, overall well-being, employment, a low crime rate, relatively good weather, and good broadband internet access.

Nowhere in Wales, Northern Ireland or the South West of England made the top 50.

However, Dr John Boyle, Director of Research & Strategy at estate agents Rettie & Co took issue with some of the findings and the absence of much of Scotland from the survey's top 50.

He said: "All hugely questionable. I could put another ten indicators in and give you completely different results. I have also been to Rutland - it is not the 4th best place to live in the UK, believe me."

A spokesman for VisitScotland said: "The outstanding natural beauty and rich heritage of Orkney make the islands very popular among visitors. It is great to see Orkney included on this list."

Orkney comprises approximately 70 islands, with 20 inhabited.

Mainland Orkney is 202 square miles and the sixth largest Scottish island.