Sail away to lands steeped in history, wildlife and stunning scenery, far from the jostling crowds to the haunting beauty of the Orkney and Shetland Isles. Many people have landed there before you – some as early as 3000 BC. Most famous of all were the Vikings, but they were not alone and all around you will find historical treasures.
Both islands, but particularly Shetland, in summer have virtually no darkness and the beauty of this ‘Simmer Dim’, as it is called locally, has to be seen to be realised. Both Orkney and Shetland have their own identity, Orkney being very green and fertile while Shetland has a more rugged cliff and sea loch scenery. Both however share a colourful history of Picts, Norsemen, ancient antiquities, buried treasure and seafaring legends, bound up with an independent spirit that makes them quite different from the rest of Scotland.
We sail with Serco Northlink Ferries and their modern, purpose-built vessels, the Hrossey and the Hjaltland, from Aberdeen overnight to Lerwick. We then have two full days to tour Shetland. After rejoining the ship for an evening sailing to Kirkwall, we have a further two full days touring Orkney, based at the comfortable Kirkwall Hotel, before our final overnight sailing back to Aberdeen.
- Spectacular sea cliffs at Eshaness
- Multitudes of seabirds at Sumburgh Head (May-July)
- The multi-period settlement of Jarlshof
- Neolithic Orkney – a UNESCO World Heritage Centre
- The Churchill Barriers and Italian Chapel, poignant reminders of more recent history
- Return coach travel from your local area – with pick-ups in Aberdeen, Perth, Kinross, Dunfermline, Edinburgh & Glasgow
- 1 night dinner, bed and full breakfast at the Queens Hotel, Lerwick and 2 nights’ bed and breakfast (plus one dinner) at the Kirkwall Hotel, Orkney (or similar). All rooms have private facilities
- 2 nights’ accommodation in 2-berth cabins on Serco Northlink Ferries MV Hrossey/Hjaltland. Outside cabins are available for a small supplement
- Two breakfasts and two dinners on board ship; one dinner in an Orkney restaurant
- Two full day coach tours of mainland Orkney including entrance to Italian Chapel, Skara Brae and Maeshowe
- Two full day coach tours of mainland Shetland including entrance to Jarlshof
- Comfortable coaching throughout
- Services of a tour representative
The same 5-night package including flights from London (and other regional airports on request) to Aberdeen is available from £1095.00 per person in a twin/double (single supplement – £225.00). Other connecting air/rail transfers can be packaged on request, for those outwith the pick-ups points. Please call us on 01224 338004 to discuss.
Single supplements apply. Subject to availability. Some pick-up points are subject to minimum numbers being achieved.
We depart from our designated departure points and travel to Aberdeen where we board the Serco Northlink Ferry (Hrossey or Hjaltland) overnight to Lerwick.
Once on board we shall check-in to our comfortable, twin-berth cabins which all have en-suite facilities. The ship has a delightful restaurant, where dinner is served this evening, together with a bar and lounges where you can relax. There is also a well-stocked gift shop for souvenir shopping or essential items.
After breakfast on board we will leave the ship and commence our tour of Shetland. We depart for North Mainland where we will visit the spectacular cliffs of Eshaness. We travel through Tingwall Valley, the site of the old Norse parliament (Ting) and through the picturesque areas of Whiteness and Weisdale. Look out for the ‘Otters Crossing’ sign at the narrow isthmus known as Mavis Grind, where it is said to be possible to throw a stone from the North Sea to the Atlantic. We also stop at Scalloway, the former capital of Shetland where we visit the ruined castle built in 1600 by the infamous Earl Patrick Stewart.
Following our visit here we transfer to our comfortable accommodation at the Queens Hotel, Lerwick (or similar). All rooms have en-suite facilities. Dinner will be served in the evening.
Today we will start with a visit to the outstanding Prehistoric and Norse Settlement of Jarlshof, with over 3 acres of remains, spanning 3000 years since the days of the Stone Age, including oval shaped bronze age houses, iron age broch and wheel houses, Viking long houses and medieval farmhouses. From there we travel to the southern tip of mainland Shetland, Sumburgh Head, where the North Sea on the east meets the Atlantic Ocean on the west. Here we visit the RSPB Reserve, which is home to thousands of seabirds, including puffins, guillemots and razorbills.
In the afternoon we travel through small communities such as Gulberwick and Cunningsburgh before we explore the island’s capital town of Lerwick, where we have some free time and an opportunity to visit the state of the art Shetland Museum for more detail on this special set of islands. We will re-join our ship, which sails at 1730 hours for Orkney. Dinner is served on board.
On arrival in Orkney (expected 2300hrs) we will transfer the short distance to Kirkwall where accommodation has been arranged at the comfortable Kirkwall Hotel. All rooms are en-suite with colour television, telephone and tea/coffee making facilities.
After breakfast today we have an all day excursion of mainland Orkney visiting the many archaeological sites including the Standing Stones of Stenness, lying to the north side of the Orphir Hills. Later we visit the great stone circles of Brodgar and Stenness. To this day the monument’s age remains uncertain, however it is generally thought to have been erected between 2500BC & 2000BC. We continue to Maeshowe, the finest chambered tomb in Western Europe. Built before 2700 B.C. Maeshowe was raided by Vikings in the 12th Century. It houses the largest collection of runic inscriptions to be found in any one place in the world. A visit to Skara Brae is also included, with its new visitors centre depicting the history of this world famous monument.
Dinner will be served at the hotel in the evening.
Today we will have some free time to explore Kirkwall and its environs at leisure. Places of interest include St. Magnus Cathedral, one of Europe’s greatest architectural masterpieces, its red and yellow sandstone still vibrant after 861 years, and the Bishop’s Palace. Spend some time shopping and enjoy lunch (not included).
In the afternoon we will depart on a tour of the south end of mainland Orkney, crossing the Churchill Barriers which were built after the sinking of the HMS Royal Oak in October 1939. The causeways are built of 5 and 10 ton concrete blocks and have good roads on the top connecting Burray and South Ronaldsay to the Orkney mainland. We also stop off at the beautiful Italian Chapel, built on the site of a former prisoner of war camp. Several hundred Italians, captured during the North African campaign of World War II were sent here to work on the Causeways and converted two huts into a chapel. The marvellous paintings in the interior were done by Domenico Chiocchetti, one of the prisoners who returned several times to restore and repaint parts of the building.
Dinner shall be served this evening in a local restaurant.
Later this evening we will board the Northlink vessel ‘Hrossey’ where you will be able to enjoy a drink in the bar, settle in to your cabin or simply watch the quayside activity of the ship as we prepare for our sailing at 23.45hrs for Aberdeen.
After our breakfast on board we will disembark in Aberdeen at 08.30hrs approximately. We will then return you to your original pick up points by late morning/early afternoon.