The Old Man of Hoy
The Old Man of Hoy

Undiscovered Orkney

5 days From £995

29 June 2019

Orkney is an archipelago of 70 islands, each with their own distinctive charm, history and natural beauty. Over the years Brightwater Holidays has explored almost every nook and cranny of Orkney, yet these beautiful islands contain many more secrets and hidden gems that need to be discovered. Based on Mainland, we will have an opportunity to visit previously unexplored areas as we discover the historic landmarks and captivating landscapes of the North and South Isles.

On the island of Westray we will relive Orkney’s Viking past as we sail the Old Norse sea routes. We will also sail across Scapa Flow to Hoy – an island of dramatic mountain scenery and seascapes that inspired the Orcadian symphonies of former resident Sir Peter Maxwell-Davies. Finally, we will explore Mainland and the sites that are collectively known as the ‘Heart of Neolithic Orkney’ – Maeshowe, the Stones of Stenness and Skara Brae.

What's included?

  •  Accommodation
  •  Services of a professional tour manager
  •  Comfortable coach travel throughout
  •  Meals - as per the itinerary
  •  Ferry crossings
Book Now £1,095 Deposit: £100 Single supplement: £300

Tour highlights:

  • Views of the Old Man of Hoy as we sail to Scrabster
  • Orkney’s Naval history in Scapa Flow and the Lyness Naval Base
  • The UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Maeshowe, Stones of Stenness and Skara Brae
  • A dram of the finest whisky at Highland Park Distillery

Tour details

Dates 29 June 2019 - 3 July 2019
Duration 5 days
Cost £1,095 Deposit: £100 Single supplement: £300 Balance due by 6 April 2019
Activity Level Moderate
Tour code BWUOR19A

Departure Points

Location Depart Return
Glasgow 0715 2045
Edinburgh 0830 1930
Dunfermline 0900 1900
Kinross 0915 1845
Perth 0930 1830
Inverness 1430 1530

Subject to minimum numbers, the following pick-up will be served by feeder coach or taxi to/from Perth:

Dundee (Depart) 0845 (Return) 1915

Subject to minimum numbers, the following pick-up will be served by feeder coach or taxi to/from Inverness:

Aberdeen (Depart) 1130 (Return) 1830

Please note all timings are approximate and may be changed. They will be confirmed when the joining instructions are sent out, approximately ten days prior to departure.

Book Now or call 01334 657155 if you have any questions

29 June 2019: Itinerary

We depart by coach from our local departure points and travel north, stopping en route for refreshments (not included). We will continue to Scrabster in time to catch the evening Serco Northlink ferry to Stromness where dinner will be served in the restaurant on board the ‘Hamnavoe’. On arrival in Orkney we will transfer the short distance to Kirkwall where accommodation has been arranged at the comfortable Kirkwall Hotel, overlooking the harbour.

Meals include: Dinner

Hotel: Kirkwall Hotel, Orkney

Following breakfast this morning we depart for the island of Westray, the ‘Queen of the Orkney Isles’, which is reached by ferry from the pier directly opposite the hotel, sailing along the old Viking sea route to the north, past the islands of Egilsay and Eday.

On Westray, we firstly visit The Scaun Natural Arch at Westray’s northmost point, where we should see sea birds such as the Shag, Black Guillemot and Fulmar. After a visit to the unique Quoygrew 10th century Norse site, we will visit the Kirk of St Mary in Pierowall Village. After lunch in the Pierowall Hotel (included) we shall travel to Castle O’Burrian which is known as one of the best places to see puffins in Orkney

Finally we visit the Westray Heritage Centre, and Noltland Castle, one of the most unusual castles in Scotland and testament to a troubled period of Scottish history. It was built in the 1560s by Gilbert Balfour from Fife, who was up to his neck in the political intrigues common during the time of his sister-in-law, Mary Queen of Scots, and as a result had made some powerful enemies. Using local grey sandstone, the castle follows a typical "Z" plan layout, and with 7 ft thick walls, Balfour's castle was a stronghold in every sense of the word. The lower floors have no accessible windows that could be exploited in an assault and are peppered with gunloops - 71 in total. The main block was designed to have three storeys but was never completed.

In the late afternoon we return by ferry to Kirkwall where dinner will be served back at the hotel in the evening.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hotel: Kirkwall Hotel, Orkney

Following breakfast this morning we depart for the island of Hoy, the second largest island in Orkney, which is mountainous in the north and flatter and more fertile in the south. After a 45-minute ferry trip across Scapa Flow to the port at Lyness, we will travel first to the north of the island for a look at the Dwarfie Stone. This isolated block of red sandstone, some 8.5 metres long, is the only prehistoric rock-cut chambered tomb in Britain and dates from around 3000 BC. The location is stunning and, provided everyone keeps quiet for a moment, the silence is deafening! A few miles further on we reach Rackwick Bay, a fine beach of large round boulders with high cliffs at either side of the bay and a constantly changing seascape. The composer Sir Peter Maxwell-Davies lived here for a while and it would be hard not to find inspiration in this idyllic spot.

Travelling back to the southern end of the island we will learn about the more recent past with a visit to the Lyness Naval Base and Interpretation Centre, which houses an important record of the role the Royal Navy played in Orkney during both World Wars. The former pump house has been converted to provide a comprehensive series of interpretative displays, as well as being home to a fascinating outside collection of military equipment such as vehicles and guns. World War I displays include a propeller and other artefacts from HMS Hampshire, mined off Orkney in 1916 with the loss of Lord Kitchener. Guns salvaged from the German High Seas Fleet which was scuttled in Scapa Flow in 1919 form part of the display along with railway engines on tracks. There is a large photographic collection as well as objects on display inside, where you can see one of the pumps in action. A short film presentation is shown in a unique setting – inside a huge disused fuel tank. Lunch is available here (not included).

In the afternoon we will have a visit to the stone-built Martello Tower at Hackness. These two towers, constructed between 1813 and 1815, were built as protection for the Baltic convoys and were also used during WW1. We will also pay a brief visit to the Naval Cemetery, a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made in this important theatre of two world wars.

Later we return by ferry to Houton and drive back to Kirkwall where dinner will be served in the evening.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: Kirkwall Hotel, Orkney

Enjoy your full Scottish breakfast. Today we have a full day excursion of mainland Orkney visiting the many archaeological sites including Maeshowe, the finest chambered tomb in Western Europe. Built before 2700 B.C. Maeshowe was raided by Vikings in the 12th Century. It houses the largest collection of runic inscriptions to be found in any one place in the world; Skara Brae, with its new visitor centre depicting the history of this world famous monument; and the Standing Stones of Stenness, lying to the north side of the Orphir Hills.

Lunch (not included) will be available in Stromness, where there will also be an opportunity to visit the local Museum and the Pier Arts Centre. Stromness has a very long waterfront and was a supply base for the Hudson Bay Company, and the whaling fleet, whose ships filled up with fresh water from Login’s Well. More recently, Stromness is famous for being the home of George Mackay Brown, one of the great Scottish poets of the 20th century. Also, the 2004 European Marine Energy Centre (read ‘wave/tidal power’) is based in Stromness.

Later we will enjoy a taste of one of the finest whiskies in the world, at the Highland Park Distillery, which uses the same traditional methods of production as it did 200 years ago.

Dinner will be served at the hotel in the evening.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: Kirkwall Hotel, Orkney

After breakfast we will check out of our hotel and transfer to Stromness to catch the morning ferry to Scrabster. On arrival in Scrabster we will continue our homeward journey which we will break with lunch at the Timespan Museum and Arts Centre in Helmsdale, which is described as a meeting place between past, present and future. We return to our original departure points in the afternoon and evening.

Meals include: Breakfast

29 June 2019: Additional Info

29 June 2019: Accommodation

Looking out across the harbour of the Orkney Islands’ largest town, The Kirkwall Hotel features a high-quality restaurant and bar along with stylish en suite rooms. A short walk from the town’s main shopping area, this family-run hotel provides free Wi-Fi and free parking.

Each room at The Kirkwall Hotel has en suite bathroom facilities with shower or bath, hairdryer and complimentary toiletries. All rooms have a flat-screen TV, telephone and tea and coffee facilities.

A freshly cooked breakfast includes local butchers’ sausages, haggis, black pudding, free-range eggs and locally baked bread. The Harbour View Restaurant serves extensive menus showcasing the local produce of the island, and Skippers Bar provides a relaxed setting to enjoy Orkney ales or whiskies by the waterside.

29 June 2019: Enquiries

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