Northern Isles – Orkney & Shetland

Orkney & Shetland

Return to the Stone, Bronze & Iron Ages

Please don’t hesitate to consider a visit to Orkney; it’s not as far away as you might think !

There are two ferry routes that ply back and forth across the Pentland Firth, the stretch of water between the Scottish mainland and the Islands of Orkney. One takes an hour and the other just a bit longer. I always recommend making a round trip by using one route going north and the other coming back.  

Orkney has some of the most astonishing prehistoric sites to be found anywhere in Northern Europe. 

Visit the ancient village of Skara Brae, the Tomb of the Eagles, the Standing Stones of the Ring of Brodgar, the Stones of Stenness, and Maeshowe, over 5000 years old and considered to be the finest chambered tomb in north-west Europe. Unfortunately, nobody knows who or what was buried there as the Vikings broke in during the 12th century and stole the contents. They did however, leave some genuine Norse graffiti on the walls to let everyone know they had been.  On mid-winter’s day, the low sun shines directly into Maeshowe lighting up the tomb. 

Orkney is also home to many craft workshops like Sheila Fleet Jewellery, and also the Highland Park Distillery.  There is First & Second World War history to be found in and about ‘Scapa Flow’ leaving something for everyone if you go looking for it. A mass of things to do on Orkney but seldom time to do as much as you would like.

Tour Orkney with me to get the most from your visit to some of the most intriguing islands around the North European coast. 

 Orkney’s ‘Italian Chapel ‘ – one of the most incredible places of worship you’ll find anywhere

A visit to Orkney can also be tied in to a visit to the even more northerly Islands of Shetland. For lovers of historic sites, there you’ll find the Broch of Mousa, one of the best preserved Brochs left standing anywhere dating back to 300BC.

The Mousa Broch

Many of our Guests don’t think about travelling north to Shetland as they think it too far north to be included in a short tour. However, taking an overnight ferry from Aberdeen in your own comfortable cabin will see you arriving in Lerwick in time for Breakfast before leaving the ship to explore this most beautiful ‘last outpost’ of Scotland.

The Aurora Borealis or “Northern Lights

To see the Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights as they are often known, remains an ambition of many of our Guests, yet few venture this far north where the best chances of catching a glimpse of them are. 

“Up Helly Aa” 

On the last Tuesday of January each year, Shetlanders celebrate “Up Helly Aa” during which they proudly display their Viking ancestry. The weather can be cold in January but, with flaming torches leading the Viking long boat through the streets of Lerwick, there’s usually enough fire to heat even the coldest visitor from the south. The celebrations take place throughout Shetland albeit on a smaller scale than the Lerwick event.

I would be delighted to take you up to these exceptional Islands with the option of stopping at Orkney on the way south again.

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