Orkney Explorer

from Edinburgh

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The true essence of Orkney is said to be the deep rhythms of sea and land, nature and wilderness, darkness and light. Add to that pre-historic sites and ancient treasures and you get just a taste of what this wonderful tour has in store.

Day One: Edinburgh to Loch Ness

From Edinburgh we leave the city behind and head northwards towards the Highlands. Soon we’ll make a photo-stop at Stirling Castle to enjoy the views of the Wallace Monument and the Ochil Hills beyond. We leave Stirling and travel to Doune, famed for its ruined medieval castle (of Monty Python's Holy Grail and Outlander fame), then onwards to Callander.

Shortly we cross from the Lowlands into the Highlands and as we do pretty Loch Lubnaig waits to greet us. We're now in "Rob Roy” country and in a short while we will pass Balquhidder where the famous folk hero lived and is buried.

From lonely Bridge of Orchy the road climbs steadily, offering great views, until we reach Rannoch Moor, an un-spoilt landscape of lochs, bog and little heather-clad hills that extend over 150 square miles! The moor provides a dramatic taster to awesome Glen Coe which is our next treat. We'll make a stop in the Glen of Weeping, so named after the infamous massacre of the resident MacDonald Clan by troops of the Campbell Clan.

A short drive brings us to Fort William which has a picturesque setting on the banks of Loch Linnhe. Towering above the town is Ben Nevis, Britain's tallest mountain. We'll make a stop so you can enjoy the panorama before entering The Great Glen, a striking landscape of mountains, cascading rivers and three lochs – Oich, Lochy and, most famously, Ness.

The attractive town of Fort Augustus is our gateway to Loch Ness and our home for tonight.

Overnight: Fort Augustus (Loch Ness)

Day Two: Loch Ness to Kirkwall, Orkney Isles (2 nights)

It's an early start today as we tour along the banks of the loch: keep that camera ready, just in case its elusive resident makes an appearance! Look out for ruined Urquhart Castle as we travel towards Inverness, the Capital of the Highlands.

Leaving Inverness behind we join the famous North Coast 500 route which offers spectacular coastal scenery all the way to Gills Bay where we board the ferry for our crossing of the Pentland Firth to the Orkney Islands. 

On our arrival it is a short drive to the famous and beautiful Italian Chapel. This ornate chapel was lovingly created by Italian prisoners of war from a simple metal hut and provides a moving legacy of World War 2. The sheltered water of Scapa Flow has witnessed major events during both World Wars as we shall hear as we make our way across the causeway towards Kirkwall, our home for the next two nights.

Overnight: Kirkwall

Day Three
Discovering Orkney

Orkney is home to many outstanding historic treasures and today will be a unique day of discovery. On our itinerary are visits to Maeshowe,a magnificent tomb built almost 5,000 years ago and the Ring of Brodgar, a stone circle that once comprised of 60 megaliths. The site is some 1,000 years older and three-times larger than the more famous circle at Stonehenge.

The neolithic settlement of Skara Brae * lies near the dramatic white beach of the Bay of Skaill. Uncovered by a great storm in 1850 Skara Brae is the best preserved group of prehistoric houses in Western Europe and presents a remarkable picture of life around 5,000 years ago. During our optional visit we will get a vivid impression of the realities of a prehistoric village and see ancient homes fitted with stone beds, dressers and seats.

Striking St Magnus Cathedral was founded in 1137 by the Viking, Earl Rognvald, in honour of his uncle St Magnus. Our last visit of the day will take us to explore Britain's most northerly Cathedral.

Overnight Kirkwall

Day Four: Orkney to Inverness

Enjoy a relaxed start this morning with time to pick up a last-minute souvenir before making for the ferry and our crossing back to the mainland. Once back on the mainland we follow the coastal route southwards through the attractive fishing villages of Dunbeath and Helmsdale. 

There is a stop to visit opulent Dunrobin Castle, the grand home of the Earls and Dukes of Sutherland. This vast fairy-tale castle looks sea-wards and boasts 189 furnished rooms. The grounds feature extensive formal gardens where falconry displays take place during the summer months. As we drive southwards to Golspie you will see a statue of the First Duke on top of a nearby mountain. It was he who, enthusiastically, embraced the farming of sheep on his estate in the early 19thCentury which forced many tenants from their land. Known as the "Highland Clearances” we'll hear more about this sad chapter in Scotland's story as we head towards Inverness, our home for tonight.


Overnight Inverness

Day Five: Inverness to Edinburgh

This morning we make the short drive to Culloden Moor, the site of the last battle ever fought on British soil in 1746. It was here that Bonnie Prince Charlie's Jacobite army was routed by Government troops. There's an opportunity to tour the award-winning visitor centre which explains more about this famous battle that changed life in the Highlands forever.

The natural beauty of the Cairngorms National Park is our next treat before crossing the Grampian Mountains and arriving in Highland Perthshire. We'll make a stop in the attractive Victorian resort of Pitlochry before making our way through the ancient Kingdom of Fife to the end of our tour in Edinburgh.

Highlights: Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park, Glen Coe, Loch Ness, Inverness, North Coast 500 Scenic Drive, Ferry to the Orkney Islands, Italian Chapel, Scapa Flow, Kirkwall, Maeshowe, Skara Brae, Ring of Brodgar, Dunrobin Castle, Culloden Moor and Pitlochry

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Prices (Per Person)

Guest House
Single from £ 665.00
Twin from £ 585.00

Single from £ 785.00
Twin from £ 705.00

Accommodation Details

Product Code: HEX 00761

A child discount of £10 applies to children aged 3 to 15 years inclusive at time of travel

We’re really sorry but children aged under 3 years cannot travel on this tour. Photo-ID may be requested to confirm discount entitlement.

Seasonal price range
£585 - £785
Luggage Allowance: One medium sized suitcase/bag per person (maximum weight: 15 kilos)

Product code: HEX 00761

Dates of Operation

7 & 21 May, 2020
4 & 18 June, 2020
2, 16 & 30 July, 2020
13 & 27 August, 2020
10 & 24 September, 2020

Departure Information

Check-in: 08:15 hrs
Departure: 08:30 hrs
from 1 Parliament Square
Royal Mile/High Street
Edinburgh, EH1 1RF
Returns at 19:00 hrs

Click here for departure map

What's included

• 4 nights accommodation in rooms with private bath/shower
• Full Scottish breakfast (days 2 to 5)
• Live commentary in English.
• Excursions as detailed in itinerary
• Transportation by air-conditioned mini/midi coach
• Ferry tickets and reservations
• Services of an experienced tour host
• Service charges and taxes

What's NOT included

• Admission charges unless otherwise stated in the itinerary
• Meals, snacks or items of a personal nature
• Gratuity to your tour host

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