Orkney Guided Island Hopping Holiday

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Duration: 7 nights
Type: Island hopping
Walking Grade: 2
from £1,899pp

For anyone easily seduced by big skies, sea views, and wide-open spaces, Orkney is always a good idea. Scattered off Scotland’s northeast coast, this wild windswept archipelago offers a far-from-it-all feel just a skip away from the mainland. Discover squawking seabird colonies, staggering scenery, and some of the best-preserved Neolithic ruins in Europe as you island hop between Mainland, Hoy, South Ronaldsay, and Birsay on this seven-night guided walking holiday.

What you’ll love

  • Exploring the Orcadian archipelago on coastal walks
  • Visiting some of the best prehistoric archaeological sites in Europe
  • Taking in Orkney’s sea cliffs and sandy shores
  • Spotting wildlife including seals and seabirds
  • Staying on the shores of Harray Loch

What’s included

  • Entrance to Skara Brae, Maes Howe archaeological sites, the Italian Chapel, and the Fossil & Heritage Museum
  • Comfortable en-suite rooms in our partner accommodation(s)
  • Cooked or continental breakfast every morning
  • Daily packed lunches
  • Three-course evening meals, plus tea & coffee
  • Guided walks with an experienced HF Holidays Leader
  • All transport to and from walks where necessary
  • Return flights from Glasgow to Kirkwall, including hold baggage and airport transfers

Trip Notes

Easy to download as a PDF, our trip notes provide detailed information for every holiday. Please click below to find the trip notes for your departure date.

All our carefully-curated itineraries are designed by our experts. While we make every effort to adhere to the described itinerary, we may take alternative routes or adapt the running order for weather and/or operational reasons.

Arrive on Orkney and settle in to the Merkister Hotel. Your leader will be in reception at 18:30 to give you a quick introduction to the holiday before dinner.

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Our first walk on Orkney follows a clifftop coastal path from Marwick Bay to the Brough of Birsay, overlooking RSPB Marwick Head reserve. If tide times allow, we'll head over to explore the tidal island of Birsay and its remains of Pitish & Norse settlements. If the causeway is covered, wildlife watching on this coastline is superb and there's plenty to discover about the history of the island’s fishing and whaling industries, too. In the afternoon we’ll visit Maes Howe, one of the most treasured Neolithic sites in Europe. This mysterious tomb was built from huge sandstone blocks over 5,000 years ago and aligns perfectly with the winter solstice – testament to an advanced knowledge of astronomy by its architects.

 4 miles (7km) with 510ft (160m) of ascent

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One of the most beautiful and rugged of the islands, Hoy is much more akin to the Scottish Highlands than the rolling countryside and crofts of the other islands. Today’s walk takes us to the famous sea stack known as the Old Man of Hoy before returning to Rackwick Bay. 

6 miles (9.5km) with 700ft (210m) of ascent

The Old Man of Hoy, rising 137 metres from the waters off Hoy, Orkney


Today we visit the Orcadian capital, Kirkwall. Enjoy a guided tour of the town to hear tales of Viking settlers and shipwrecks or explore independently. Visit the Kirkwall Museum and St Magnus cathedral, stop by a distillery, or spend time exploring the craft and coffee shops of the town. 

A historical town trail and a coastal walk are on offer today, both together totalling 6 miles (9.5km) with little ascent

St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Orkney, Scotland.


A superb coastal trail along the spectacular sea cliffs from Yesnaby to the impressive ancient settlement of Skara Brae – a remarkable feat of ancient engineering predates the pyramids of Egypt and even Stonehenge. We’ll also visit the Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness, which together with Skara Brae and Maes How, form the Heart of Neolithic Orkney UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Total for the two walks: 6 miles (10km) with 500ft (150m) of ascent

Orkney & Shetland - Skara Brae - AdobeStock_259606966.jpeg


Distance: 3 miles (5 km) 

Ascent: 400ft (120m) 

We head for the Broch of Gurness this morning. This circular stone tower on the shores of Eynhallow Sound is an impressive Iron Age archaeological site and one of Scotland’s best-preserved examples of a prehistoric settlement. In the afternoon we’ll hop aboard a coach and journey to Stromness where you can check out the shops and cafes independently or join your leader for a short walk around this picturesque old herring port.

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Hear the story of Orkney’s ornate Italian Chapel built from a pair of WWII shelters before a short invigorating coastal walk overlooking Scapa Flow and the islands of Flotta and Hoy.  Visit the World War II batteries at Hoxa Head as well as the Sands o’ Wright beach where we’ll be on the lookout for wildflowers on the shore and dolphins and whales in the water. If the Tapestry Gallery is open, there’s time to look inside and be amazed by the handwoven creations on display. We'll also visit the Fossil & Heritage centre.

4.5 miles (7km) with 310ft (90m) of ascent

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A group transfer takes us back to Kirkwall for the flight back to the mainland.


Itinerary map for Orkney Island Hopping

The Merkister Hotel - Orkney

We’ve had a long love affair with Orkney’s family-run Merkister Hotel, not least for its enviable setting on the shores of Harray Loch. It’s just six miles from Skara Brae and has an award-winning restaurant overlooking the loch, serving outstanding Scottish seafood and Aberdeen Angus beef. Rooms are simple but homely and all come with TV and tea and coffee making facilities. You’ll find comfortable public areas with free Wi-Fi, as well as a cosy bar, and handy drying facilities, too. This hotel is dog-friendly so you may meet four legged friends in some of the communal areas.

Food & drink

Your stay is full-board. This includes daily breakfasts, packed lunch options, and evening meals. Vegetarian choices and dietary requirements can be catered for (please give advance notice when booking).

Packed lunches

Our packed lunches will be too much food for some and not enough for others; if you feel you might need more food during the walk, please bring a supply of snacks to supplement this – it won’t always be possible to buy these on the route. Your packed lunches will include: a bread sandwich or roll with a choice of filling; some fresh fruit; fruit cake/flapjack or similar, crisps and/or biscuits. For those of you tackling a level 4 or above holiday, we would highly recommend bringing some trail mix or something similar to ensure you've some fuel in reserve should you need it.

Dietary requirements

Our partner hotels can cater for most dietary requirements, but it is important you advise us of any allergies and dietary restrictions you have at the time of booking.

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Getting to The Merkister Hotel - Orkney

Find out more about this location including travel details and room types.

More Information

Essential information

The UK has a famously unpredictable climate so it's best to be prepared for weather that’s sunny one minute and raining the next.  To make it easier, here’s a list of items you should consider packing.   

Essentials  

  • Suitable footwear such as waterproof walking boots that provide ankle support and good grip  
  • Waterproof and windproof jacket 
  • Comfortable clothing (jeans & waterproof capes are not suitable)  
  • Mid-layer(s) to keep you warm. Fleeces make a good choice
  • Waterproof overtrousers  
  • Gloves and a warm hat  
  • Rucksack with waterproof liner 
  • Spotting scope and/or binoculars 
  • Flask for hot drinks   
  • Water bottle (at least 1 litre capacity)  
  • Sunscreen  
  • UV sunglasses  

Recommended  

  • Several base layers (long-sleeve or short-sleeve)  
  • Cushioned walking socks to avoid blisters  
  • First aid kit, including plasters and insect repellent 
  • Sit mat   
  • Waterproof pouch for valuables  
  • Rubbish bag (remember to always leave no trace)  
  • Wallet/purse  
  • Camera 
  • First-aid kit 

Guest reviews

All holidays are subject to availability. Supplements may apply.

Non-member fee: £30 per person.

All packages that include flights are ATOL protected. Advertised prices listed below show the lowest economy flight price option for that departure. On holidays where we offer local UK airports, details will appear in the “Important Information” section below and available alternative flight options will be offered when you book. Seating upgrades may be available on request and at an additional charge, please call 020 3974 8865 for a quote.

Date (Start - End) Itinerary Double / Twin Room Single Room Notes / Offers Trip Notes Book
2024

02 Jun - 09 Jun 2024

7 nights

Island Hopping
Flight from Glasgow International Airport

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21 Jul - 28 Jul 2024

7 nights

Island Hopping
Flight from Glasgow International Airport

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11 Aug - 18 Aug 2024

7 nights

Island Hopping
Flight from Glasgow International Airport

Single from

£2,159

Double from

£2,159 pp

from

£2,159 pp

from

£2,159

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Trip Notes
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08 Sep - 15 Sep 2024

7 nights

Island Hopping
Flight from Glasgow International Airport

Single Call to Enquire
Double Call to Enquire
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Date (Start - End) Itinerary Double / Twin Room Single Room Notes / Offers Trip Notes Book
2024

02 Jun - 09 Jun 2024

7 nights

Island Hopping

Single Call to Enquire
Double Call to Enquire
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21 Jul - 28 Jul 2024

7 nights

Island Hopping

Single Call to Enquire
Double Call to Enquire
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11 Aug - 18 Aug 2024

7 nights

Island Hopping

Single from

£1,899

Double from

£1,899 pp

from

£1,899 pp

from

£1,899

Trip Notes
Book Now

08 Sep - 15 Sep 2024

7 nights

Island Hopping

Single Call to Enquire
Double Call to Enquire
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Important information

  • With flights holidays: Price includes return flights from Glasgow to Kirkwall Airport, hold baggage and airport transfers
Duration:
7 nights
Type:
Island hopping
Walking Grade:
2

7 nights from £1,899pp

or call 020 3974 8865

For group bookings of 10+ guests click here

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