Catch the morning ferry over to St Margaret’s Hope as the group begins its exploration of this unique place. Orkney consists of around 70 islands in an archipelago whose central core is linked by the unique Churchill Barriers. These causeways were hastily built in 1940 not so much to join islands together but as impassable naval defences, after the night in October 1939 when German U-boat U-47 navigated through tiny island channels into the vast Royal Navy anchorage at Scapa Flow to wreak deadly havoc. Ask your guide too about the incredible events involving the German war fleet at Scapa Flow in 1919.
On the island of Lamb Holm, meanwhile, the Italian Chapel is a poignant leftover from WW2 when thousands of Italian POWs were held on Orkney. Wishing for their own place of worship, they threw together this wonderful structure from corrugated Nissen huts and cast-off timbers, before decorating its interior with lasting panache.
A short road transfer will bring you to Kirkwall in the afternoon. You’ll have time to explore this attractive harbour town in your own time. St Magnus Cathedral provides a breath-taking landmark – a soaring red sandstone edifice founded by Vikings as Britain’s most northerly cathedral.
Alternatively, you could choose to visit the renowned Highland Park Distillery, next door to your accommodation. Orkney’s most famous whisky maker has plied its spiritual trade for over 220 years in historic buildings on a rise above Kirkwall. Its 18-year-old is a former winner of the ‘Best Spirit in the World’ accolade, uniting distilling skill with Orcadian heather peat, pristine spring water and cool sea salt air. Do advise if you wish to visit Highland Park at the time of reserving your place on the tour so that we can secure this well in advance for you.
Dinner this evening is at leisure – you could choose to stay in the hotel or try one of Kirkwall’s local restaurants. Your tour leader will assist with options and recommendations.
Your accommodation on Orkney
Located on the outskirts of Kirkwall, the hotel is traditionally furnished creating a genuine feel throughout. All rooms are individually styled to great effect. With an excellent reputation as a destination for locals, the restaurant features menus packed with local produce. The hotel has ample lounge areas and a whisky snug, where you will be tempted to try a dram or two from a very large range.