Orkney & Shetland

Guided Island Hopping

Code: XGLDW

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Activity types:

  • Coastal
  • History
  • Wildlife

Level

  • Medium
More information

Difficulty indicator

Difficulty is measured on many factors such as distance, ascent/descent, terrain, weather and more. There's no magic formula, but from our experience we use yellow for easy, orange for medium and red for hard. Challenger holidays require a high level of fitness and stamina.

More about difficulty levels

From £1,299.00 - 7 nights

Book

Prices are per person

Room 1:
Room 2:
Room 3:

Holiday overview

Pristine natural landscapes, peace and tranquillity, wide open spaces and lung-fulls of fresh air. Orkney and Shetland will live up to all of this and more as you island hop from the quaint crofting communities of Orkney to the Scandanavian style fjords and voes of Shetland. 

 

Accommodation

Stay at welcoming hotels on Orkney and Shetland. Accommodation at each includes comfortable en-suite rooms, and menus serving meals, based around locally sourced produce.

 

The Merkister Hotel, Orkney - 4nts

Situated on the shores of Harray Loch, The Merkister Hotel stands in its own grounds in the most wonderful location, commanding impressive views of this famous loch and its surroundings. All rooms have TV, direct-dial telephone, hairdryer, tea and coffee making facilities. A drying room and laundry facilities are available and there is WiFi. 

 

Busta House, Shetland - 3nts

Nestled at the foot of rolling hills on the shore of Busta Voe, The Busta Hotel in a 16th-century homestead sits among expansive gardens. Traditional rooms have WiFi, flat-screen TVs and DVD players, tea and coffee making facilities and a hairdryer. Drying room facilities are also available.

On occasion we may need to change the accommodation listed above. If this happens, your replacement accommodation will be of the equivalent standard or higher. In the rare instance this is not possible, we will contact you in advance.

Itinerary

Planned Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival Day

Arrive on Orkney and meet at the Merkister Hotel.

Day 2: Brough of Birsay and Marwick Bay

Your first walk on the island of Orkney begins by following a superb cliff-top path from the island of Birsay, to the RSPB reserve of Marwick Bay and The Loons. In the late afternoon we explore the Ring of Brodgar, the standing stones of Stenness and the Neolithic chambered cairn of Maes Howe (Entrance fee not included Scottish / Welsh / English National Heritage members free). 8 miles (13km) with 400 feet (120m) of ascent.

Day 3: Skara Brae and Stromness

We begin with a visit to the impressive, ancient settlement of Skara Brae, now a UNESCO site of special heritage. (Entrance fee not included Scottish / Welsh / English National Heritage members free). Leaving this site mid-morning we then walk the coast south above the spectacular sea cliffs of Yesnaby to meet our transport on the outskirts of Stromness. 10 miles (16km) with 890 feet (270m) of ascent.

Day 4: Isle of Hoy

Visiting the island of Hoy, we enjoy a magnificent walk which takes us out to the famous sea stack of the “Old Man of Hoy”, before returning via the mysterious “Dwarfie Stone”. Watch out for the “Bonxie” – the local name for the Great Skua. Spot them before they spot you, with one of their dives. 9 miles (14.5km) with 1,050 feet (320m) of ascent.

Day 5: Shetland – Sumburgh Head and Jarlshof

Today we leave Orkney and head north to Shetland. On arrival, we visit Sumburgh Head RSPB reserve, the most southerly point of mainland Shetland. This elevated viewpoint affords extensive views over Shetland and of Fair Isle to the south. Our May & July departures will also witness an amazing sea bird spectacle as thousands of birds come ashore to nest on the cliffs. From here we descend to the inspirational archaeological site of Jarlshof ((Entrance fee not included Scottish / Welsh / English National Heritage members free) which covers a period of continuous habitation from 2500BC through to the 1600s. 3 miles (5km) with 130 feet (40m) of ascent

We then rejoin our transport for the scenic transfer to Busta House.

Day 6: The Eshaness Peninsula

This is our opportunity to learn a little about Shetland’s heritage at the Tangwick Haa museum, as we circumnavigate the beautiful Eshaness peninsula. Today grants us a plethora of wildlife watching opportunities, as we wander past colonies of seabirds numbering in their thousands during the breeding season. We may also be lucky enough to spot seals today, both Common and Grey seals are often seen bobbing up and down in the bay. 10½ miles (17km) with 400 feet (120m) of ascent.

Day 7: Muckle Roe

A rugged and remote walk to discover the red granite coastline of the Muckle Roe. This walk is a fitting finale from where we can look back and appreciate the beauty of yesterday’s walk as well as today’s, and admire the windswept isolation and beauty of Shetland. 8½ miles (13.5km) with 850 feet (260m) of ascent.

Day 8: Departure Day

Transfer to Sumburgh airport for your return flight to Aberdeen

The itinerary may be subject to change at the discretion of the leader with regard to the weather and other external factors 

Local area

Orkney

Skara Brae & Skaill House – A visit to extraordinary Skara Brae offers the best opportunity in Scotland for a glimpse of Stone Age life. Idyllically situated by a sandy bay north of Stromness, and predating Stonehenge and the pyramids of Giza, Skara Brae is northern Europe's best preserved prehistoric village.

St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall – Founded in 1137 and constructed from local red sandstone and yellow Eday stone, fabulous St Magnus Cathedral should not be missed. The powerful atmosphere of an ancient faith pervades the impressive interior.

Shetland

Böd of Gremista, Lerwick – This is a restored 18th century fishing booth containing lots of memorabilia. The highlight is definitely the chatty guide who shows visitors around and gives an unmistakeable air of authenticity to the whole experience.

Clickimin Broch, Lerwick – The fortified site of Clickimin Broch was occupied from the 7th century BC to the 6th century AD. It is impressively large and its setting on a small loch gives it a feeling of being removed from the present day – unusual given the surrounding urban encroachment.

Up-Helly-Aa Exhibition, St Sunniva St, Lerwick  – The Up-Helly-Aa Exhibition explains the bizarre annual Viking fire festival. Up-Helly-Aa is all about fancy dress and pageantry: costumed revellers with flaming torches lug a wooden galley through Lerwick to the designated torching site. This festival for pyromaniacs dates back to Norse times, when Vikings celebrated the rebirth of the sun at Yule by torching a longship in the bay. 

Travel

'With flight' holidays

 Travel by plane

By air:

For those who have booked our “with flight” option, you will take a mid afternoon flight from Aberdeen airport to Kirkwall airport (Orkney), from where you will usually meet your leader and will be transferred to the Merkister Hotel.

The flight between Orkney and Shetland on Day 5 is included in your holiday price and our Shetland coach company will pick you up at Sumburgh Airport.

Please be aware of the reduced cabin baggage dimensions, 40x35x18cm, maximum weight 6kg, on the flights to and from these islands. These flights are operated by the Flybe franchise partner Loganair.

All passengers aged 16 and over are required to provide photographic ID at the check-in desk and at the departure gate

Flybe plane at the airport 

How to get to us by train

By train:

The nearest rail station to the airport is Dyce, which is about two miles from the terminal and easily reached by bus or taxi. For train times and general rail enquiries visit www.nationalrail.co.uk or call 03457 484950 (from outside the UK call +44 20 7278 5240).

 

 Scotrail train at Edinburgh station

Driving to us

By car:

Aberdeen Airport is 7 miles north of the city. Parking is available here - see www.aberdeenairport.com

 

 

Independent travel

 

 Travel by plane

By air:

If you're travelling by air, you should book an outward flight to Kirkwall (Orkney), and a return flight from Sumbergh (Shetland). There are flights available from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness and Aberdeen. See www.flybe.com

The flight between Orkney and Shetland on Day 5 is included in your holiday price.

 Flybe plane at the airport

Ferry

By ferry:

Ferry travel is available from Scrabster to Stromness or from Aberdeen to Kirkwall, and back from Shetland to Aberdeen. Ferries are operated by North Link Ferries; www.northlinkferries.co.uk.The ferry terminal at Aberdeen is a 5 to 10 minute walk from Aberdeen railway station.

There are bus and train routes available to Scrabster from Inverness with City Link www.citylink.co.uk.  There are also train services from Inverness to Scrabster with connections from Thurso, ran by Citylink & Rapson’s Coaches.

 Ferry heading to Orkney

 

 

Reviews

Date & Rating Customer Review HF Holidays says
22 Jul 2016, 5:33 p.m.

Service rating:

+

Product rating:

++

Service review:

Head office administration is less than perfect at times.

Product review:

Excellent holiday [we were lucky with the weather!]. Very good leader with good knowledge of and obvious love of the islandsand landscape. Very good hotels
21 Jul 2016, 1 p.m.

Service rating:

+

Product rating:

++

Service review:

there is a difference between walkers abilities and expectations, perhaps greater clarity in the walk descriptions would help

Product review:

well organised, good knowledgeable leader, pleasant hotels
21 Jul 2016, 10:38 a.m.

Service rating:

+

Product rating:

++

Service review:

No review provided

Product review:

Emailed invoices should be in a printable format
20 Jul 2016, 9:07 p.m.

Service rating:

+

Product rating:

+

Service review:

Excellent hotels!

Product review:

Perhaps you might consider offering 2 walks on those days with a longer, harder walk. (I recognise that this would entail having a second walk leader on those days.)
20 Jul 2016, 6:33 a.m.

Service rating:

++

Product rating:

++

Service review:

Great holidays - only negative is the high single supplements - I often book hotel breaks for myself abroad and never pay a supplement, I am at a loss as to why hf charge this as I always felt these are good breaks for singles.

Product review:

Really enjoyed this holiday
21 May 2016, 4:38 p.m.

Service rating:

+

Product rating:

+

Service review:

We did not think there was sufficient information about the location of the hotels or about the itinerary and nature of the walking.

Product review:

We would not have described the holiday as good but would not have described it as poor. The accommodation was varied between the two hotels and similarly the food especially the packed lunches. Because of the group the walking was slow.
19 May 2016, 2:18 p.m.

Service rating:

++

Product rating:

++

Service review:

Excellent quality

Product review:

Very experienced and knowledgeable leader. excellent hotels, food and scenic walks
18 May 2016, 1:22 p.m.

Service rating:

+

Product rating:

++

Service review:

overall very good but quite late in receiving the details before leaving home

Product review:

Excellent itinerary and a great guide - Colin was well informed and supportive
18 May 2016, 8:03 a.m.

Service rating:

+

Product rating:

++

Service review:

The administration of the holiday was not ideal. I had to telephone on more than one occasion to get the facts and details of the holiday correctly.

Product review:

I had really looked forward to this holiday and was not disappointed. Our guide was outstanding in his knowledge of both Orkney and Shetland and the stunning walks gave us a good understanding of various parts of island life. We met local people on our travels. The hotels used were welcoming and in idyllic situations and Busta House at Brae in Shetland was outstanding in every way. I can really recommend this holiday: second-to-none leadership, countryside and archeological sites and even the weather was brilliant!
18 May 2016, 7:24 a.m.

Service rating:

++

Product rating:

++

Service review:

I have been on several walking holidays with HF and always found the company very helpful when discussing travel arrangements prior to holiday

Product review:

Stunning scenery, good walking and helpful guiding.

Dates & Prices

Date Description Nights Brochure price Book
7 May 2017 XGLDW - Orkney & Shetland
(Travel included)

Flight - Outbound

Flybe

  • Depart: 7 May 2017, 3:25 p.m.
  • Arrive: 11 May 2017, noon
  • Depart from: Aberdeen Dyce
  • Arrive at: Shetland Island Sumburgh

Flight - Return

Flybe

  • Depart: 14 May 2017, 11:40 a.m.
  • Arrive: 14 May 2017, 12:40 p.m.
  • Depart from: Shetland Island Sumburgh
  • Arrive at: Aberdeen Dyce
7 £1,449.00 Book Now
7 May 2017 XGLDW - Orkney & Shetland 7 £1,299.00 Book Now
14 May 2017 XGLDW - Orkney & Shetland 7 £1,299.00 Book Now
14 May 2017 XGLDW - Orkney & Shetland
(Travel included)

Flight - Outbound

Flybe

  • Depart: 14 May 2017, 3:25 p.m.
  • Arrive: 18 May 2017, noon
  • Depart from: Aberdeen Dyce
  • Arrive at: Shetland Island Sumburgh

Flight - Return

Flybe

  • Depart: 21 May 2017, 11:40 a.m.
  • Arrive: 21 May 2017, 12:40 p.m.
  • Depart from: Shetland Island Sumburgh
  • Arrive at: Aberdeen Dyce
7 £1,449.00 Book Now
9 Jul 2017 XGLDW - Orkney & Shetland
(Travel included)

Flight - Outbound

Flybe

  • Depart: 9 Jul 2017, 3:25 p.m.
  • Arrive: 13 Jul 2017, noon
  • Depart from: Aberdeen Dyce
  • Arrive at: Shetland Island Sumburgh

Flight - Return

Flybe

  • Depart: 16 Jul 2017, 11:40 a.m.
  • Arrive: 16 Jul 2017, 12:40 p.m.
  • Depart from: Shetland Island Sumburgh
  • Arrive at: Aberdeen Dyce
7 £1,449.00 Book Now
9 Jul 2017 XGLDW - Orkney & Shetland 7 £1,299.00 Book Now
13 Aug 2017 XGLDW - Orkney & Shetland
(Travel included)

Flight - Outbound

Flybe

  • Depart: 13 Aug 2017, 3:25 p.m.
  • Arrive: 17 Aug 2017, noon
  • Depart from: Aberdeen Dyce
  • Arrive at: Shetland Island Sumburgh

Flight - Return

Flybe

  • Depart: 20 Aug 2017, 11:40 a.m.
  • Arrive: 20 Aug 2017, 12:40 p.m.
  • Depart from: Shetland Island Sumburgh
  • Arrive at: Aberdeen Dyce
7 £1,449.00 Book Now
13 Aug 2017 XGLDW - Orkney & Shetland 7 £1,299.00 Book Now
10 Sep 2017 XGLDW - Orkney & Shetland 7 £1,299.00 Book Now
10 Sep 2017 XGLDW - Orkney & Shetland
(Travel included)

Flight - Outbound

Flybe

  • Depart: 10 Sep 2017, 3:25 p.m.
  • Arrive: 14 Sep 2017, noon
  • Depart from: Aberdeen Dyce
  • Arrive at: Shetland Island Sumburgh

Flight - Return

Flybe

  • Depart: 17 Sep 2017, 11:40 a.m.
  • Arrive: 17 Sep 2017, 12:40 p.m.
  • Depart from: Shetland Island Sumburgh
  • Arrive at: Aberdeen Dyce
7 £1,449.00 Book Now

What's included

  • 7 nights’ Full Board en-suite accommodation
  • The services of an experienced leader, offering one guided walk per day
  • All transport and luggage transfers on walking days
  • Flight between the islands on Day 5
  • Group transfers to and from the first and last hotels. These connect with the group flight
  • “With flight” holidays include flight from Aberdeen to Kirkwall, and from Sumburgh to Aberdeen

Prices are per person

Information

  • Single room: £266 (complete holiday)

If at eight weeks prior to the start of the holiday a sharing partner is unavailable, a single room or room for single occupancy with associated supplement will be allocated to you instead. 

  • Non-member associate fee: £10 per person

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