Tour Only from £215
Tour with accommodation from £265
8th, 22nd May; 5th, 19th June; 3rd, 17th, 31st July; 14th, 28th August; 11th, 25th September
This wonderful island adventure passed through the spectacular coastal scenery of Moray and Cromarty followed by a memorable trip to the mysterious and magical Orkney Isles.
Firths breathtaking beauty
The Italian Chapel and Churchill Barriers
On your first day, you head north from Inverness, passing the spectacular coastal scenery of the Moray and Cromarty Firths. Then you board the ferry for a memorable trip to the mysterious and magical Orkney Isles. Keep an eye out for dolphins, seals and other marine wildlife on this hour-long crossing to St Margaret’s Hope – your gateway to Orkney. Orkney is so far north that in the summer the sun does not set until 10:30pm, meaning that you’ll have plenty of time to explore the island. There are over 90 islands in this group, of which only 20 are inhabited. You will be staying on the largest: the Mainland.
Once you arrive you can take in the stunning scenery and start exploring. Orkney has many native wildlife species, including the rare tiny purple primula scotica flower, and puffins! Orkney also has many species which are unique to the islands, due to its geographical isolation. It is also home to the UK’s oldest natural woodland! Its unusual geography is due to the island being fashioned by glacial erosion. This year, Orkney has been voted the best place to live in the UK!
From your base in Kirkwall, you’ll spend the whole of day two exploring the islands. Kirkwall is the island’s largest town: picturesque with narrow main streets, it is home to several fine old houses, and the ruins of the Bishop’s Palace and the Earl’s Palace. Despite being so far north, this town has a population of 6500 people. This is an excellent opportunity to independently explore Kirkwall and see an authentic Scottish Island town. Kirkwall is also home to Highland Park Distillery, which is the most northerly distillery in the UK!
This is a land full of ancient history and you’ll be able to take in prehistoric marvels such as the Maeshowe chambered cairn from the Neolithic era. You can also visit the world-famous Neolithic village of Skara Brae. It is composed of 8 houses and is Europe’s most complete Neolithic village. It is also one of the best-preserved monuments in western Europe, despite being discovered after a storm in 1850! You will go on to see the brooding stone circles of Stenness and the Ring o’Brodgar, a UNESCO world heritage site also from the Neolithic era.
The day will finish with a visit to beautiful Britain’s most northerly cathedral, St Magnus Cathedral, which boasts stunning Romanesque architecture. It was founded as the final resting place for the relics of St Magnus, known as Magnus the Martyr, was the Earl of Orkney in the 12th Century. He was related to the kings of Norway, which is understandable given the Cathedral’s location! In fact, at the time he died, the Orkney islands were part of Norway!
Your final day begins with a leisurely morning in Kirkwall, which boasts many craft and gift shops to enjoy. Take time to explore the beautiful working harbour and ancient streets. In the late morning, we will say goodbye to Orkney and join the ferry ride back to the mainland. Your expert guide will ensure you get the best out of your journey back to Inverness, exploring the dramatic coastline.
Your first stop of the day will be John O Groats, the only place where you can view both the east and west coasts of the UK simultaneously. It’s an excellent opportunity for a photo stop as well!
We will then be able to visit Dunrobin Castle, the most northernly of Scotland’s great houses and the largest in the Northern Highlands. It is also Britain’s oldest continuously inhabited stately home, more recently owned by the Dukes of Sutherland. Explore the vibrant formal gardens and discover why this Scottish Castle looks like a French chateau. You will then head back towards your departure city, Inverness, where you say goodbye to your tour group.
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