- 4 complete days on mainland Orkney with a knowledgeable local guide
- Visit the UNESCO Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site
- Enjoy distillery tours at Orkney Brewery, Highland Park & Kirkjuvagr
- Royal Deeside castle sightseeing by private bus
- Visit the Castle of Mey - the late Queen Mother's home in Caithness
- Time at leisure in Aberdeen, Inverness & Edinburgh
- 15 days from £3,255pp
Thursday 9 May to Thursday 23 May 2024
A leisurely rail journey north from Glasgow to Orkney, with Royal Deeside sightseeing en route. Enjoy stays in Stromness and Kirkwall, taking in the must-see highlights of this magical isle with a local guide. Visit the Castle of Mey and overnight in Inverness before returning south to Edinburgh.
Day 1 – Welcome to Glasgow
We meet in Glasgow for a welcome dinner and a 1-night stay. If you've never been to this lively cultural city, why not arrive a day or two early? We would be happy to arrange this for you.
Day 2 – Aberdeen
A morning train takes us to Aberdeen for an afternoon at leisure and a 2-night stay. This compact city is located on the coast and there is plenty to see, from sand dunes to ships which dock right up to the city streets. Admire the sparkling granite architecture or walk the cobbled streets of the old town.
Day 3 – Royal Deeside
Royal Deeside is an area that captivated Queen Victoria with its characteristic Scottish blend of moody mountains, lofty crags, tumbling rivers and moors and forests. We have a private tour by bus and visit some of the castles which the area is famous for. If the Royal Deeside Railway is operating today, we will also incorporate a return journey on this short but charming line.
Day 4 – North to Inverness
We take the former Great North of Scotland & Highland Railway lines to Inverness this morning for a 2-night stay. This afternoon is yours to explore this pretty riverside city or to relax at the hotel's spa.
Day 5 – Inverness at Leisure
There is plenty to see and do here. Stroll around the botanic gardens, embark on a Loch Ness Cruise (pre booking is essential) or take the spectacular rail journey out to the Kyle of Lochalsh – this is one of the most breathtakingly scenic lines in the world. If you prefer history, visit Inverness Castle, Museum & Art Gallery and take a bus out to Culloden Battlefield & Visitor Centre.
Day 6 – Orkney Bound
We travel by road north to Scrabster on the Pentland Firth where we board the lunchtime Northlink ferry over to Stromness for an evening meal and 3-night stay.
Day 7 – Heart of Neolithic Orkney
Today we focus on the UNESCO Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site. This encompasses 4 monuments and around 5,000 years of history. Our local guide will take us around the famous archaeological treasures of Skara Brae, the Ring of Brodgar, the Standing Stones of Stenness and the Maeshowe chambered tomb. A stop at Skaill House will also be included.
Day 8 – Birsay Birdlife & Sea Stacks
Visit the tidal island of Birsay if tide times allow – it's only accessible via a concrete causeway for around 2 hours either side of low tide. This small island hosts the remains of a substantial Pictish settlement, with evidence of Viking buildings visible too. The sheer cliffs fall off into the Atlantic Ocean and are full of birdlife – it's one of the best places to see puffins in the spring and summer months. Back on the mainland, we take a coastal walk to view the Yesnaby Sea Stacks and enjoy a tour of Orkney Brewery.
Day 9 – WWII Orkney
The sites we visit today have strong links to WWII – we cross some of the Churchill Barriers and learn about the important role they played. We also stop at the attractive Italian Chapel, built from two Nissen huts, and learn more about the men who transformed it into what we see today. A trip to Scotland wouldn't be complete without a dram of whisky so we also visit the Highland Park Distillery. The day ends in Kirkwall where we have a 2-night stay.
Day 10 – Exploring Around Kirkwall
Take in the east coast today with a short walk out to the Gloup – a dramatic collapsed sea-cave separated from the sea by a land bridge about 80 yards wide. It drops down around 80 feet, with the sea still crashing in through the blow hole. Back in Kirkwall, we are guided around St Magnus Cathedral, the Bishop's Palace and the Earl's Palace. Visit the harbour for The Orkney Distillery, home of Kirkjuvagr Orkney Gin.
Day 11 – Mainland & Castle of Mey
Morning drive down to St. Margaret's Hope for a ferry back across the Pentland Firth. We discover the Castle of Mey and have time for lunch before journeying south to Wick for an evening meal and 1-night stay.
Day 12 – Wick & Inverness
After a leisurely morning, we weave our way back down through wild moorlands by rail to Inverness for a 1-night stay and evening meal.
Day 13 – South to Edinburgh
Mid-morning train to Edinburgh for a 2-night stay.
Day 14 – Edinburgh at Leisure
There is a wealth of sights to see in this bustling capital. Alternatively, travel up to Aviemore for the Strathspey Railway or out to North Queensferry to travel over the Forth Bridge. Enjoy a farewell dinner this evening.
Day 15 – Farewell
Travel home from Edinburgh independently.
Please note, this tour involves a fair amount of walking and therefore requires suitable clothing and a good level of fitness. Some of the hotels do not have lifts and porterage is not included. If you are unsure of its suitability for you, please contact us before making a booking.
Grand Central Hotel, Glasgow
Leonardo Hotel, Aberdeen
Best Western Palace & Spa, Inverness
The Ferry Inn, Stromness
Ayre Hotel, Kirkwall
Mackays Hotel, Wick
Hotel Indigo – Princes Street, Edinburgh
Please note - hotels can be subject to change
- All rail travel as stated in Standard Class
- Accommodation in good quality hotels on a bed and breakfast basis
- Local Orkney guide for days 7-10
- 5 evening meals
- Excursions as specified
- Ferry & road transfers as specified
- Services of a tour leader from Glasgow and throughout the tour
Price per person
|Single room supplement:||£965|
|Deposit for this holiday:||£100|
Download your tour booking form here.