Walking and Painting in Orkney & Shetland 2018

8 Days

From £1895pp

For painterly perfection and winning walks, look no further than Orkney and Shetland. The Northern Isles boast a double whammy of style and substance, with no end of intriguing subjects and scenic routes on offer.

There are few places in the British Isles that so endear themselves to artists and amblers as Orkney and Shetland. Here in Scotland’s Northern Isles, an abundance of awe-inspiring sites and breathtaking walks — in both senses of the word — ensure this new tour will become a firm favourites.

You’ll pass cliff-top cairns on the Sumburgh coast — built, legend has it, by a tourist waiting patiently for his wife to finish painting the scenery — and shipwreck sites near Scapa Flow; great ancient stone circles in the shadow of the Orphir Hills, wide-open beaches and bustling harbours. But whether you’re a walker or a painter, there are some things we can all agree on — the quaint charms of Lerwick as we explore at our leisure, and the pleasure of putting our feet up after dinner!

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Day 1

We depart from our designated departure points and travel to Aberdeen where we board the Serco Northlink Ferry overnight to Lerwick. 

Once on board we shall check-in to our comfortable, twin-berth cabins which all have en-suite facilities. The ship has a delightful restaurant, where dinner is served this evening, together with a bar and lounge where you can relax.

Day 2

After breakfast we leave the ship and commence our tour of Shetland. We depart for North Mainland where we visit the spectacular cliffs of Eshaness. After walking along these spectacular cliffs there’s time to capture them and their dramatic forms as we briefly stop to sketch. After a hearty pub lunch, we’re ready for our main walk today the Hamnavoe Circular - 4.6km.

This walk explores part of West Burra, one of Shetland's smaller islands. Starting at the car park at Meal, on the outskirts of Hamnavoe, we cross the road and follow the fenced walk-way down to Meal Sands, one of Shetland's most picturesque bays. In summer, the marshy ground to either side of the walkway is ablaze with wild flowers. The route descends from the kissing gate to the beach, via a winding path with large stone steps.

The scenery invites the painters in the group to prop-up their easels as we spend some time on the beach. Alternatively, we have some free time to soak up the Atlantic sea breezes.

We continue to the hotel in Lerwick this evening for dinner.

Day 3

We start with a visit to the outstanding Prehistoric and Norse Settlement of Jarlshof, with over 3 acres of remains, spanning 3000 years. We set off on our walk, a circular route of 6km over moderate to challenging ground. From Jarlshof the walk takes us through a coastal field, along the shore to the south of the Sumburgh Hotel garden. There has been some coastal protection work done here. We follow the coast eastwards but watch your feet if the grass is long, as it may conceal large sea-thrown boulders. The cliffs are fairly low to begin with, but they gradually rise and grow more dramatic. You will pass a number of well built cairns at intervals, said to have been built by a tourist while waiting for his wife to finish painting the scenery! Good stiles and access aids have been constructed along the route. We reach Sumburgh Head, where we have painting opportunities. This afternoon we travel through the small communities of Gulberwick and Cunningsburgh before spending some free time in Lerwick, we will also have the opportunity to visit Shetland Museum.

We continue to the ferry terminal for the evening Northlink ferry sailing from Lerwick to Kirkwall. Upon arrival in Kirkwall (expected 23.00hrs) transfer the short distance to the hotel.


Day 4

We have an all day excursion of mainland Orkney visiting the many archaeological sites including the great stone circles of Brodgar and Stenness, where there will be painting opportunities. Lying to the north side of the Orphir Hills. This morning’s walk is 8.5 km on easy to moderate ground, before lunch, we arrive at Maeshowe, the finest chambered tomb in Western Europe. It houses the largest collection of runic inscriptions to be found in any one place in the world. A visit to Skara Brae is also included with a pause here for some artwork, while others can have a look at the new visitors centre depicting the history of this world famous monument. Our walk continues across the cliff tops of Marwick Head for about 5 km.

Dinner will be served at the hotel in the evening.

Day 5

This morning our walk starts in the historic heart of Kirkwall, where we have a bit of free time to explore the impressive St Magnus Cathedral and the narrow streets where the notorious ball-game the Ba is played, before heading out to the Peedie Sea and the busy harbour. This route is 3.25km. In the afternoon we depart for the south end of mainland Orkney, crossing the Churchill Barriers and stopping off at the Italian Chapel along the way. We begin a circular walk along the shores of Scapa Flow, passing Howequoy Head near where HMS Royal Oak was sunk in 1939, and continuing inland to return to St Mary's past the Loch Of Ayre - 3.25km.

We enjoy a well-earned dinner in a local restaurant tonight, before boarding the overnight Northlink ferry from Kirkwall to Aberdeen.

Day 6

This morning we wake in Aberdeen and disembark, where we continue to our original pick-up points late afternoon.

What’s Included

  • Five nights’ dinners (with wine), bed and breakfast: one night at the Busta House Hotel, two nights at the Kirkwall hotel, two nights on the Northlink Ferry
  • Three lunches included
  • All coach transfers
  • Visits to Eshaness, Jarlshof and Skara Brae  
  • Services of a professional tour manager
  • Porterage at the hotels
  • Gratuities
  • Bottle of mineral water each day

Supplements per person

Single room: £350

Travel and overnight accommodation before and after the tour are available on request.

2018 Insurance Prices

As part of our booking conditions, our travellers must have adequate insurance protection for any holidays overseas but we strongly recommend that you are covered for any of our tours. Our travellers are welcome to take out their own insurance policy, providing that we have the details of this before departure. Alternatively, we can provide our own recommended single-trip travel insurance for all holidays, please see the most upto date prices below: 

UK Tours:
Under 65, from £18.00 | 65-74, from £35.00 | 75 and over, from £52.00

EU Tours:
Under 65, from £32.00 | 65-74, from £64.00 | 75 and over, from £96.00

Worldwide Tours:
Prices on application

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Depart Return
(Millennium Hotel, George Square)
9:45 13:00
(Marriott Hotel, Glasgow Road)
11:00 11:45
(Outside Fife College)
11:30 11:15
(Moto Services, M90)
11:45 11:00
(Canal Street)
12:00 10:30
(Discovery Point)
12:30 10:00
(Ferry Terminal)
14:45 08:30