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To book this tour please go to www.explore.co.uk and use the tour code AOR!

 

Trip Highlights

BREATHTAKING LANDSCAPES Exploring some of Britain’s most pristine regions and largest bird colonies on foot.
ANCIENT HISTORY Discovering Iron Age villages and Neolithic sites including Skara Brae.
ORCADIAN  AND NORSE TRADITIONS Unearthing the history, heritage and local traditions of these islands.

Trip Summary

Orkney also known as the Orkney Islands (and sometimes incorrectly as “The Orkneys”), is an archipelago off the north coast of Scotland. Orkney comprises approximately 70 islands of which 20 are inhabited. We enjoy the breathtaking landscapes, world famous archeological sites and birdlife of the mainland and the islands of Hoy, Westray and Papay. The name “Orkney” dates back to the 1st century BC or earlier, and the islands have been inhabited for at least 8,500 years. Originally occupied by Mesolithic and Neolithic tribes and then by the Picts, Orkney was invaded and then annexed by Norway in 875 and settled by the Norse. Orkney contains some of the oldest and best-preserved Neolithic sites in Europe, and is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
For the first four nights we are based in the town of Stromness, closely located to the major archaeological sites and also the departure point for the ferry to the island of Hoy where we enjoy a day walk to see the Old Man of Hoy. After two days exploring the mainland and the largest town of Kirkwall we sail to the island of Westray for the last two nights, famous for the bird colonies at Noop head and Castle O’Burrian. From our base in the town of Pierowall we take a day trip to the magical island of Papa Westray – Papay for short.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Join Stromness Hotel

Overnight Standard Hotel (H+)

Day 2: Island of Hoy

Today we sail from Stromness to the island of Hoy where we’ll enjoy a day walk through Berriedale Wood with cascading burns. It’s a rare habitat on Orkney that holds many plant species otherwise extinct on the Orkney Isles. As we drop down to Rackwick Bay, we’ll walk to see the epic Old Man of Hoy, a sea stack towering out of the Atlantic Ocean for 450ft. We’ll sail back to the mainland in the early evening. (Approx. 15 miles walking).

Overnight Standard Hotel (H+) Included meals: Breakfast

Day 3: Exploring Stenness and Kirkwall

We begin our day visiting Maes Howe, a Neolithic building, most probably a tomb, with the most amazing Viking graffiti! After, we’ll walk out to explore the Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar, two fantastic stone circles that are older than Stonehenge! Later today we’ll take a bus to Kirkwall to discover St Magnus’s Cathedral, the Museum of Orkney, the Bishop and Earls Palaces and Highland Park Distillery (entries not included). (Approx. 6 miles walking).

Overnight Standard Hotel (H+) Included meals: Breakfast

Day 4: Exploring Scara Brae and Birsay

We spend today exploring west mainland. After beginning to understand how the people celebrated life and death, we’ll visit Skara Brae, two stone age villages one built upon the other that go back over 5000yrs. We’ll discover how people used to live back then by exploring the old houses overlooking Skail Bay. We’ll also get a chance to go into Skail House, a Laird’s manor. This afternoon we’ll walk up to the towering cliffs of Marwick head  for stunning views and fantastic bird watching. From here, as long as the tide is the right, we’ll enjoy a short walk over the causeway to the Brough of Birsay. Once an island that held a pictish settlement, followed by a Viking settlement, the Brough was the old centre for education on the Orkney Islands. Later today we  take the bus back to Kirkwall. (Approx. 11 miles walking)

Overnight Standard Hotel (H+) Included meals: Breakfast

Day 5: Sailing to Westray

This morning we take a ferry to Pierowall on the island of Westray. We’ll visit a local fish and crab processors, take a walk on the north side of the island and sepnd some time in the town. A varied day from discovering a medieval church and Noltland Castle to exploring beaches backed by dazzling dunes. We may see the oyster plant, Faroes sunset shells, parnassuss grass and heartsies among varied fauna. We’ll also walk up to Skail and visit the Wheeling Steen Gallery to see remains of ship wrecks and recent excavations at Noltland and Quoigrew.

Overnight Basic Hotel (H) Included meals: Breakfast

Day 6: Exploring Papa Westray

We take the Papa Westray ferry this morning for a guided walking tour taking in various scenic and cultural attractions including the well-preserved Neolithic stone houses at the Knap of Howar, Holland Farm and the lovingly restored old kirk at St Boniface, as well as wildlife highlights including seal colonies. In the afternoon we’ll take a further guided walk on the North Hill Nature Reserve with the RSPB Warden to see the sea cliffs with a wide range of sea birds and the maritime heathland including the rare primrose Primula scotica colonies. We’ll take a ferry back to Westray later this afternoon.

Overnight Basic Hotel (H) Included meals: Breakfast

Day 7: Explore Westray; ferry to Kirkwall where tours ends

Back on Westray, today’s highlight is a walk out to Noup Head to see one of the largest seabird colonies in the British Isles, second only to St Kilda. Here we’ll find puffin, guillemot, kittiwake,  razerbill, shag and fulmar as well as wild flowers, caves and lighthouses, Finally we’ll return to Pierowall and take the ferry back to Kirkwall on Orkney where our tour ends. (Approx. 6miles walking).

Included meals: Breakfast