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Scotland: Exploring the Orkneys & Shetlands

Group Tour

7 Days From C$3,666

Overview

Join us on a journey to the wild frontiers of our home - the United Kingdom. Starting in the capital of the Highlands - Inverness - we venture north on a journey which will make you question how well you know your own country. Our key destinations are the northern island groups of Orkney and Shetland - each closer to Oslo than London - where the locals consider themselves to be Orcadians and Shetlanders, rather than Scottish or British. 

Each island group has its own flag, unique cultures ...
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HIGHLIGHTS

At a glance

MEALS

5 x Breakfasts
7 x Lunches
5 x Dinners

TRANSPORT

On this tour we will use minibuses and ferries.

GROUP SIZE

Maximum: 8

CARBON CONTRIBUTIONS

A carbon-offsetting contribution to Eco Act for all bookings

EXPERT TEAM

The full services of a Wild Frontiers Tour Leader with local guides where appropriate

ACCOMMODATION

All accommodation as outlined in the itinerary

ACCOMMODATION

As an overall ethos, wherever possible we aim to use characterful accommodation that enhances the overall travel experience, not just offers a bed for the night. This can obviously vary dramatically from country to country and from trip to trip. On this particular trip we will be staying in two comfortable hotels. We will also spend one night on an overnight ferry from Orkney to Shetland where we will spend the night in individual ‘sleeping pods’. Please note the sleeping pods are comfortable seats which can recline up to 70 degrees allowing you to lie back. Upgrades to private cabins are available on request – please contact the office if you require this upgrade. Please also note that the accommodation mentioned in the itinerary is intended as a guide only and is always subject to availability.

ENTRANCE FEES

All entrance fees for sights mentioned in the itinerary

FITNESS RATING

High

FITNESS RATING

LOW: You should be comfortable walking around towns and cultural sites. May include some optional walks (typically 1-2hrs).

LOW/MODERATE: May be of a long duration and/or involve numerous border-crossings. May include easy/moderate day walks (up to 2-3hrs/day). You should be relatively fit and lead a generally active lifestyle.

MODERATE/HIGH: May include several easy/moderate day walks (up to 2-4hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You should be relatively fit and lead a generally active lifestyle. Previous experience of similar trips helpful.

HIGH: May involve several days of moderate hiking (up to 3-5 hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You must be a fit and active traveller with appropriate trekking experience.

VERY HIGH: May involve several days of moderate/strenuous trekking (up to 5-7 hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You must be a very fit and active traveller with appropriate trekking experience.

Map & Itinerary

Individual departures may vary so please refer to the information in the tour specific links in the Dates and Prices section below

Scotland: Exploring the Orkneys & Shetlands
EXPAND ALL ITINERARY DAYS
COLLAPSE ALL ITINERARY DAYS

DAY 1: TOUR STARTS IN INVERNESS

DAY 1: TOUR STARTS IN INVERNESS

Meeting in the capital of the Highlands, Inverness, this morning we will transfer north along the spectacular north east coast of the Highlands before travelling over the Pentland Firth to the fabled Orkney Islands.  Rich in history and ancient mythology, this is a fabulous place to start our adventure.  On our way to our accommodation we will stop at the Italian Chapel, two Nissan huts converted into a place of worship by prisoners of war.  A tranquil place with an incredible history makes a great start to our holiday.

Lynnfield Hotel or similar
Lunch, Dinner

DAY 2: ANCIENT VILLAGES AND JAGGED COASTLINES

DAY 2: ANCIENT VILLAGES AND JAGGED COASTLINES

The Stone Age village of Skara Brae was discovered in 1850 after a storm cleared away the sand dunes that were covering it.  Take a walk around Europe’s most complete Neolithic village and imagine what life was like for the residents 5000 years ago on this windswept coastline.  Later on we will head to Brough Head and enjoy a superb walk that follows the coast south to Marwick Head - one of the largest seabird colonies in the Northern Isles.

Approx. 3hrs walking (6kms, 120m ascent)

Lynnfield Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 3: THE OLD MAN OF HOY

DAY 3: THE OLD MAN OF HOY

Today we will enjoy exploring one of the other islands in this wonderful part of the world.  Boarding the ferry at Stromness, we will head across to Hoy where we will enjoy a wonderful hike out to see The Old Man of Hoy - the famous sea stack surrounded by some of Britain’s highest sea cliffs.  If time allows we may also visit the Dwarfie Stane - Orkney’s only chambered tomb cut from stone -  which, if local legends are to be believed, was the work of giants. 

Approx. 4hrs walking (9kms, 220m ascent)

Lynnfield Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 4: THE HEART OF NEOLITHIC ORKNEY

DAY 4: THE HEART OF NEOLITHIC ORKNEY

Our destination for today is to take a step back in time to the Neolithic times.  Here on Orkney there is an epicentre around where many ancient sites have been uncovered, leading to speculation that they are all somehow related.  Our first stop will be at the wonderful Ring of Brodgar.  There are various myths surrounding this ring, one of which was giants dancing through the night until they were turned into stone by the rising of the sun.  From here we get a good view towards our other stops for today, the Stones of Stenness and the ancient chambered cairn of Maes Howe.  Dinner is not included - choose an early dinner in one of the local eateries or dine on the ferry itself. As we travel overnight, bound for Shetland, you’ll be lulled to sleep by the gentle rock of the boat.

Overnight Ferry
Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 5: WELCOME TO SHETLAND

DAY 5: WELCOME TO SHETLAND

After an early breakfast on the ferry, we arrive in Shetland this morning and will head north to explore the little island of Muckle Roe and stretch our legs after a night at sea.  This wonderful walk offers some superb coastal scenery and a great way to see some of the amazing wildlife that Shetland is famous for.  We will arrive at our hotel in the late afternoon and enjoy a delicious dinner of local produce and perhaps a wee dram or two from the extensive collection of whisky!

Approx. 5.5hrs walking (12kms, 285m ascent)

Busta House Hotel or similar
Lunch, Dinner

DAY 6: THE MOST NORTHERLY POINT IN THE UK

DAY 6: THE MOST NORTHERLY POINT IN THE UK

These wonderful islands are made up of around 100 islands but only 16 of these are inhabited.  Today we will head north to the islands of Yell and Unst to explore the most northerly regions and the home to one of the largest breeding colonies of Bonxie in the world, Hema Ness.  From this part of Unst we can gaze out across the sea to the sensationally placed lighthouse on the island of Muckle Flugga and the tiny rock of Out Stack, which is the most northerly point of land in the United Kingdom.  On our return if time allows, we will enjoy a wonderful coastal walk on Yell to see the White Wife of Otterswick, a very unusual memorial to lives lost when a German vessel sank here in a storm.

Approx. 6.5hrs walking (17kms, 215m ascent)

Busta House Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 7: TOUR ENDS IN THE SHETLANDS

DAY 7: TOUR ENDS IN THE SHETLANDS

Our last morning will be spent enjoying time on St Ninian’s Isle.  Walking across the sandy tombolo that connects this island with the mainland we are affording incredible views back to the mainland and out to the island of Foula.  The chapel that was dedicated to Shetland’s patron saint is where the earliest Christian burials took place. Afterwards, there is time to visit the fascinating prehistoric site of Jarlshof, which was home to more than 4,000 years of human settlement in the same location. The site is located just 5 minutes from Sumburgh Airport, where the tour ends early afternoon in time for people to connect onward flights or ferries.

Approx. 4.5hrs walking (11kms, 110m ascent)

Breakfast, Lunch

PRIVATE HOLIDAYS: DATES DON’T FIT?

All group tours can be taken on a private basis.

Additional Details

Responsible Travel

Responsible travel and sustainable tourism are fundamental ideas that Wild Frontiers has been committed to since our birth. It is our strong belief that these words should not be simply ‘tagged on’ to itineraries and websites but should be at the very core of each trip, and our adventures are therefore designed with the local people, culture and eco-system in mind. We believe that a successful trip not only delivers a unique and unsurpassable journey for our clients, but that it also benefits the peoples whose lands we are privileged to visit. For more information, please see our responsible travel page.

Getting There

If you would like us to send you a quote for the suggested tour flights or on any alternative flight that may suit you better, please let us know, noting that for our US clients, we will most likely refer you to one of our preferred partners. For this trip our suggested flights from the UK (subject to change) are shown below. Please note that these flights will require you to overnight in Inverness the night before the trip starts. If you decide to take this option, you will need to book your accommodation directly. A recommended choice is The Kingsmills Hotel from where you can be picked up on the morning of Day 1. Alternatively you may want to take the overnight Caledonian Sleeper train from London. Clients taking this option will be picked up at Inverness Railway station on the morning of Day 1.

If you wish to arrange your own flights you are completely free to do so and in this case we can arrange any transfers or supplementary accommodation that you may require. However please note that if you are planning on making your own flight arrangements, we recommend that you first check with us to see if the trip is guaranteed. We then suggest that you purchase flights that are flexible and ideally refundable as due to the nature of adventure travel, itineraries and destination accessibility can change at any time. For more information, please refer to our booking conditions.
 

Flight Code Departing Arriving
BA 1466 London Heathrow (LHR) 18:50 Inverness (INV) 20:30
BA 4096 Sumburgh (LSI) 15:50 Edinburgh (EDI) 17:15
BA 1459 Edinburgh (EDI) 18:45 London Heathrow (LHR) 20:15

Visas

For this tour UK passport holders do not require a visa for Scotland.

Non-UK passport holders or non-UK residents should contact the relevant embassies for individual requirements.

Further details will be sent out to you on booking, however ensuring that correct and valid visas are obtained remains the sole responsibility of the client.

Extensions

If you fancy exploring more of Northern Scotland, we can send you some ideas although we are not yet currently able to make arrangements for you.

Governmental Travel Advice

Many governments issue advice which highlights potential hazards their citizens might experience when travelling abroad. We strongly suggest you refer to your country’s particular advisory site before booking and contact us if you have any queries or concerns. Click to follow links to the advice of the British Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) or the US State Department.

Non-UK citizens should consult the travel advice of their respective governments.

Key Information

CLIMATE

The northerly location of the Orkney and Shetland Islands means weather can be extremely varied. The most popular time to go is during the summer months as days are longest and temperature warmest, with temperatures between 10-20°C. However, spring and autumn months are also fantastic times to visit these Islands, proving a great time to see wildlife - such as birds and seals - with average day time temperatures ranging from 5-15°C. Please prepare for all eventualities, including rain and wind.

IS THIS TRIP FOR ME?

It may sound obvious but Wild Frontiers tours are not always for everyone and it is important to us that the tour you choose is the most suitable. All our tours have a fitness rating as a guideline but you should check the day-by-day itinerary carefully. In certain instances we may ask you to complete a travel questionnaire before confirming your booking in order to ensure your suitability. Should you have any concerns about your ability to partake in any aspect of the tour then please contact the office.

KEY ASPECTS TO CONSIDER

Anyone in a good state of fitness who walks regularly should be perfectly able to cope with this tour, however, please note we will be spending one night on an overnight ferry from Orkney to Shetland where we will spend the night in individual ‘sleeping pods’. Please see the accommodation section for further information.

THE NATURE OF ADVENTURE TRAVEL

We feel that it’s worth pointing out that while we will always strive to stick as close to the stated itinerary as possible, it may be necessary from time to time to make changes to our itineraries or services (due to weather, political and religious influences etc.) and this can happen with little or no notice. This unpredictability can be one of the most exciting aspects of adventure travel and for many of our clients often leads to unexpected highlights as the tour-leader necessarily adapts the tour to the changing conditions. However we are aware that this lack of assuredness may not suit everyone. As such, with the greatest respect, if you are someone who needs to know that everything will happen exactly as planned, we would kindly suggest that perhaps our tours are not for you. Adventure travel can be infectious and once you’ve caught the bug, it is likely to never leave you, but especially if this is your first such tour we would strongly urge you to give us a call if you have any concerns whatsoever about your suitability for this trip.

TRAVELLING SOLO AND SINGLE SUPPLEMENTS

As a company approximately 70% of our clients are solo travellers, so it’s very unlikely you’ll be alone!

Our prices are typically based on twin-share accommodation but single supplements are not compulsory for any Wild Frontiers tour. If you prefer not to pay a single supplement we’ll pair you with someone else of the same sex for you to share with throughout the trip.

On this trip, if you do opt to pay for a single supplement then please note that it will cover you for all nights of the tour except on the overnight ferry where you will be in a 'sleeping pod'.

Please note that paying a single supplement entitles you to lone occupancy of a single room. In many cases these rooms will be of the same size as a double/twin room, but in some cases they may be smaller.

INSURANCE

Insurance that provides cover for emergency repatriation in case of a medical emergency is compulsory for all tours. You should be aware that due to some of the geographical areas visited and some of the activities included on certain of our trips some standard insurance policies may not always provide adequate cover. As such we strongly recommend that you purchase a policy that adequately covers your trip. If you choose to purchase the Wild Frontiers bespoke policy through Travel & General (currently available to UK residents only) then please note for this trip the minimum required level of cover will be the Standard policy. Please see the Insurance section for more details.

General Information

TOUR PRICE

All our tours are priced on a land-only basis, giving you maximum flexibility when deciding how to get to and from your tour.

DEPOSIT

A £200 (or equivalent) deposit is required to confirm your booking.

PROTECTION FOR YOUR MONEY

For further details please see our travelling with peace of mind page

WILD MILES

This tour will earn you 890 Wild Miles

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

We believe in a completely transparent approach to pricing with no hidden extras. As such, please note that the following are not included in the cost of the tour.

Visas & Travel Insurance: Visas will always be tour/nationality dependent but travel insurance is mandatory
Tips: Always optional but some guidance will be given in the pre-departure information documents
International Flights: Please ask us for an obligation-free quote for flights which originate in the UK
Beverages & any costs of a personal nature: This will include items such as laundry and souvenirs

WILD FRONTIERS COMMUNITY

If you’re still not sure if this trip is right or just want to see get some different perspectives, then why not have a look at the wide variety of resources we have on our website? Browse our community section to read our blogs, watch videos and find out about our events. 

WHY WILD FRONTIERS?

We are frequently asked what makes Wild Frontiers different from other tour operators. Visit our Why Wild Frontiers page to find out.

INSPIRATION

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