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Day 1 – Journey to Kirkwall
Your holiday begins in either Glasgow or Edinburgh as you board your flight to Kirkwall airport, a stone’s throw away from Orkney’s most populous settlement. From here, pick up your hire car and then the rest of the day is yours to settle in to island life however you wish. We’ll provide plenty of recommendations to help you along the way.
Your Hotel in Kirkwall
Located on the outskirts of Kirkwall, the owners have put tremendous effort into creating a genuine feel throughout this most charming hotel. All rooms are individually styled with Orcadian names and the hospitality is renowned. With a strong reputation as a destination for locals, the restaurant boasts menus packed with island produce, including seaweed-reared lamb or mutton and the finest seafood.
Day 2 – An Expert Day Tour
Today you will be collected from your hotel and taken on a full-day tour of the main cultural and historical highlights of the island in the company of one of our hand-selected local guides. Highlights could include Skara Brae, the Ring of Brodgar, the Italian Chapel and the Churchill barriers.
Day 3 – Free time on Orkney
Perhaps today is the perfect opportunity to go back and visit any of the sites that didn’t make it to on your guided tour. Orkney has more to offer than millennia of contrasting history – there are also a number of wonderful coastal walks to embark on and sea stacks to admire. Wildlife is a key part of life on Orkney – keep your eyes peeled for a glimpse of minke whales, seals and dolphins among the crashing waves around the coast.
Day 4 – Over the sea to Rousay
Today you’ll make the short jump to the island of Rousay – fondly nicknamed ‘The Egypt of the North’ due to the sheer number of historical sites that call it home. The small population (less than 200 people) strike the perfect balance of charming hospitality while allowing you to feel like you have the island to yourself. Make sure you take the time to meander along the golden strands of one of the isolated beaches along the shoreline.
Your Accommodation in Rousay
Located close to the ferry terminal, this four-roomed hotel is family run and provides an intimate environment to enjoy a locally brewed beer or Orkney dram, with panoramic views across to Evie and Rendall on the Orkney mainland. The restaurant serves a simple menu with a keen focus on local produce – the perfect place to round off a day’s exploring.
Day 5 – A Tour of Rousay
Today you will set off on a leisurely small group tour of Rousay, accompanied by one of our favourite and charming local guides. You will have the opportunity to visit and learn about the island’s most celebrated archaeological sites, along with plenty of stops to enjoy the breath-taking island views and spot some wildlife. Refreshments – but not lunch – will be provided
Day 6 – Go wild on Westray!
Wake up bright and early today to return to Kirkwall airport to catch a short flight to your next destination – the wild island of Westray. Your flight will be in an eight-seater plane, and so is a memorable experience during which you can admire more of the Orkney archipelago from above.
On arrival in Westray you will embark on another small group tour with a gregarious local guide. As home to rich island culture, historical sites spanning every era – from Neolithic ruins to a 16th Century castle – and some of the UK’s most interesting wildlife, Westray is a fascinating place to discover. The tour is personalised to each group’s interests; the only problem will be deciding what to see first!
Your Accommodation on Westray
Your accommodation on Westray is a unique B&B within a 150-year-old kirk community hall. The comfortable en-suite rooms are tucked away for complete privacy, while the rest of the house is an appealing open-plan space of modern kitchen, dining area and comfortable lounge featuring every modern convenience. The friendly owners live in the adjacent manse, and will cook and serve you a delicious breakfast each morning.
Day 7 – Take the World’s Shortest Scheduled Flight
This morning you will fly to Papa Westray, one of the most unusual of the Orkney islands. The flight from field to field takes around two minutes – in fact, it is in the record books as the shortest scheduled flight in the world! You will be collected on arrival by a local tour guide who will help you explore this fascinating landscape. On a small group bus and walking tour you will visit the well-preserved Neolithic stone houses at the Knap of Howar, reputedly the oldest houses in Europe, traditional Holland Farm and the lovingly restored old kirk at St Boniface. You will also view wildlife such as seal colonies and other scenic and cultural attractions. After a delicious lunch, you’ll enjoy a guided walk on the North Hill Nature Reserve with the RSPB Warden to see the sea cliffs with a wide range of sea birds in season and the maritime heathland including rare “Primula Scotica” colonies.
Your day is rounded off with afternoon tea and home bakes before returning to the airport in good time for your return flight – or should that be hop – before spending a final night on Westray.
Day 8 – Head back to Kirkwall
Enjoy a quick flight back to mainland Orkney for another night’s stay in Kirkwall. The rest of the day is yours at leisure – perhaps follow Orkney’s Viking trail, delve into recently-discovered archaeological sites or visit some of the specialist craft businesses around the Mainland.
Day 9 – Travel to Shetland
Today you say a fond farewell to Orkney as you board your flight to Sumburgh, watching the distinctive islands of Shetland come into view from the skies. On arrival you will collect your rental car and head to your lodgings for the next three nights.
Your accommodation in the South Mainland
Set in the tranquil village of Bigton on the picturesque west side of the island, your guest house is perfectly placed for touring the South Mainland of Shetland. Five minutes’ walk from St Ninian’s Sands, with many more empty sandy beaches close by, you will be spoilt for choice.
Day 10– Guided Tour of Shetland
Today you will enjoy a full-day tour of the South Mainland with our expert local guide. You will spend the day visiting some of the main attractions – both natural and man-made – in the South of Shetland. The exact itinerary will depend on your interests and the weather, with options including beautiful St Ninian’s Isle and its unusual “tombola” sandy beach, the ancient settlement of Jarlshof and the new Lighthouse Visitor Centre at Sumburgh Head.
Day 11 – Leisure time in Shetland
Today is yours to dive deeper into the fascinating beauty of Shetland. Head to the dramatic sea-carved cliffs and stacks at Eshaness -particularly enthralling on a stormy day. Spot otters and seals playing in quiet coves or simply breathe in the salty sea air on a rambling walk.
Day 12 – Boat trip to Noss and Move North
This afternoon you will enjoy a unique and spectacular wildlife experience. Thousands of birds nest and feed on the Noss Nature Reserve, and seals laze on rocks beneath the cliffs or nose around the boat. Your guides on-board will share their in-depth knowledge aboard the vessel while you tour the spectacular cliffs of the world-famous bird reserve.
Your accommodation in North Mainland
Your final lodging has an altogether elegant feel, and even has royal connections – the Queen once took afternoon tea in the library. Less regal guests can enjoy meals in the hotel bar or restaurant, both of which offer high-quality, locally-sourced produce. All the bedrooms are individually decorated and named after the surrounding isles, with views of the bay or the gardens, complete with trees – a rare and welcome occurrence in Shetland!
Day 13 – All Aboard to Unst
Today you will travel even further north to the mystical island of Unst. Home to the most northerly point of Britain – the Muckle Flugga lighthouse – you feel instantly as though you have discovered somewhere special from the second you set foot on this small island. There’s plenty to explore on Unst – from a reconstructed Viking longhouse to the Shetland Ales craft brewery and Foords’ Chocolates, where you can sample the delights made on the premises. Don’t forget to stop and admire/photograph the famous Unst Bus Shelter – complete with carpet, comfy seats, TV and themed decorations – one of Britain’s most quirky attractions – it even has its own website and visitors’ book!
Day 14 – Final day on Shetland
Time for some final explorations of this totally different part of the British Isles.
Day 15 – Return home
Your northerly Scottish island adventures come to a close today, as you fly from Sumburgh back to either Edinburgh or Glasgow. Do let us know if we can assist with any onward travel.
This multi-centre holiday is based around Orkney and Shetland, and the various islands within each archipelago.
£2495 per person in March & April, £2520 per person in October, £2620 per person in May and £2675 per person from June to September.
Prices are based on two people sharing a room for this 14-night holiday on a bed and breakfast basis. Also included in the price is small manual car hire throughout, return flights from Edinburgh or Glasgow, flights to Westray/ Papa Westray and a flight from Orkney to Shetland, ferry travel to Rousay, an Orkney Explorer Pass, small group tours of Orkney, Rousay, Westray, Papa Westray, Shetland and a boat trip to Noss.
Before your departure, you will receive personalised holiday information including full directions, recommended routes, and suggestions on places to visit depending on your interests and our local knowledge to help you get the most from your holiday.
All itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.
All our holiday prices include a service charge of £9 per person per night towards the costs we incur in researching, planning and designing your holiday.
We guarantee to refund this service charge if you believe that arranging your holiday through McKinlay Kidd has not met your expectations for value. All we ask is that you write to us within 7 days of your return and explain your reason for claiming the refund. This will ensure that we can improve the experience for all our future guests.
This holiday can be arranged from March to October.
To check the latest availability for this holiday complete the form below or call us. We will respond to your availability check within one working day if at all possible. Please bear with us on this - we work with a hand-picked selection of smaller hotels, guest houses, and other independent businesses, ensuring that you have the chance to explore off the beaten track and really get under the skin of the destination.
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