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Your holiday begins as you fly from Glasgow or Edinburgh Airport on the 90 or so minute flight to Orkney. On arrival on Orkney you will pick up your hire car and drive to your centrally located hotel on the outskirts of Kirkwall – your base for three nights.
The owners have put tremendous effort into transforming this hotel, located on the outskirts of Kirkwall. A genuine feel pervades the hotel, which is traditionally furnished, offering you the chance to find out just how comfortable Orkney chairs really are. Fast building a reputation as a destination for locals, the restaurant boasts menus packed with local produce. Savour the chance to try lamb with its distinctive flavour due to the seaweed diet of North Ronaldsay sheep, or sample local seafood including mouth-watering prawns, succulent salmon and delicious stir-fried squid. And you just must pop round to see the neighbours – the world famous Highland Park distillery is right next door.
Orkney offers world class archaeology as well as some superb land and seascapes. There’s simply so much to see it’s difficult to choose. Our suggested itinerary would be to start at Orphir, with its beautifully proportioned round church and “Orkneyinga” Viking history interpretation centre. From here head to the West coast and Skara Brae, one of the most impressive stone age monuments in the western world.
Drive north to the Earl’s Palace at Birsay; should time allow, travel round the coast to Evie and the broch of Gurness. Then, return south to Maes Howe, and finally the through the Ring of Brodgar and standing stones of Stenness. Another day you might head south to South Ronaldsay – now connected by the famous Churchill Barriers to the mainland. Don’t miss the incredible example of human dedication – the Italian Chapel and the Tomb of the Eagles – one of the most impressive, privately owned historic monuments in the country.
If you prefer, travel by ferry to one of the smaller islands such as Hoy, Papa Westray, Westray, Rousay, Stronsay, Sanday or Shapinsay. Hoy, Orkney’s second largest island, is mountainous and is worth visiting for its famous sea stack, the Old Man of Hoy. At Westray, visit the ruined Noltland Castle and the Knowe o’ Burristae Broch. If you’re interested in the archaeology of Orkney, Rousay boasts one of the finest sites with its Midhowe Broch and Cairn. Here you can see evidence of many different eras dating as far back as Neolithic times.
Today you leave Orkney and travel to Shetland by the way of a short flight between these two northern archipelagos. Upon arrival you collect your second hire car and drive to your next base in the central mainland of these isles.
The original, historic building dates from the 1500’s and has benefited from many tasteful additions throughout the centuries. Low ceilings, winding corridors, steep steps and sloping floors all add to the characterful ambiance of the place which, rumour has it, includes its very own ghost. Guests comment on the friendly welcome and traditional service they have received here. The hotel even has royal connections: the Queen Elizabeth 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.
During your time on Shetland, you will enjoy a unique and spectacular wildlife experience. Thousands of birds nest and feed in 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 which is equipped with colour viewing screens and a submersible ROV mounted camera that shows the stunning variety of life beneath the waves.
You will have plenty of time to explore these islands, which boast rugged coastal scenery, with an option to travel on to the islands of Unst and Yell. Another day’s plan could include the famous historic site at Jarlshof, to the stunning beaches at St Ninian’s Isle, and via a short ferry journey to Britain’s tallest Broch at Mousa. Enjoy the serenity of the birds and seals, Mousa’s only inhabitants!
Return your hire car at Sumburgh airport and catch your return flight to Glasgow or Edinburgh for onward connections.
Orkney and Shetland, off the north coast of Scotland. The holiday described is based flying to and between the islands and hiring cars on both islands.
£1080 per person for March, April & October and £1155 per person for May to September.
Prices are based on 2 adults sharing a double/twin room ensuite for 6 nights on a bed and breakfast basis. Prices include direct flights from Glasgow or Edinburgh to Orkney, from Orkney to Shetland and back from Shetland to Edinburgh or Glasgow, as well as a boat trip around Noss whilst you are on Shetland. The hire of a small manual car on each island, as well as a Historic Scotland Explorer Pass covering entrance to their managed sites on Orkney (including Skara Brae and Maes Howe) and to Jarlshof on Shetland, is also included.
All our touring holidays include a map with recommended routes from your specified starting point, suggestions on places to see and visit depending on your personal interests and our expertise to help you get the most from your holiday.
All itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.
There is the option to upgrade to a suite at the hotel on Orkney for an additional £45 per person subject to availability. Please do not hesitate to ask for more details.
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.
Everything ran like clockwork so a big thank you. A really lovely holiday.Judy & David, Derby, England
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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