Orkney mainland & the Orkney Isles connected via the Churchill barriers
- depending on the weather, as ideally we are looking for a bright clear window in time, to best savour the moment – to drive up to Wideford Hill – for one of the best all round views across much of the Orkney archipelago – giving you a good insight into the lie of the land, including views across the sea & towards the Scottish mainland – but weather/visibility is all here – we rather pick the right moment – as it is only worthwhile for the perfect magic view moment
- Stopping at the Standing Stones of Stenness and the ring of Brodgar stone circle ( past the Ness of Brodgar, where archeologists do live/more excavations and tours of those can also be organised) – (likewise we pass Maes Howe – one of the best preserved & oldest chambered burial cairns where only at the midwinter solstice when light wins over darkness and the days begin to get longer again sunlight will hit the interior chamber – at the and tours can be organised) – what I suggest is also to visit Unstan Cairn (as there we can just stop, look and leave and get a wee impression of Maes Howe, without having to book & join a tour)
- Coastal loop of the West mainland – including
- Gurness broch also for its location on the coast, past the beach, overlooking the isles of Rousay, Wyre, Egilsay, Gairsay, Eynshallow & on a clear day with some of the more northerly Orkney Isles visible in the distance
- the Brough of Birsay – a tidal island – so we have to ensure we can cross the causeway out and back during low tide – with Pictish & Viking settlement remains
- Early June is the my favourite time, live has fully come back and the spring bloom is at its best – at the Marwick head nature reserve/Lord Kitchener memorial I can offer you a superb clifftop walk – where we see the breeding seabirds – with some luck also a few puffins – below us
- Skara Brae – to really properly take it all in with all the displays and the audivisuals plus once you are there, you usually have a quick look at the included historic Skail farmhouse thereafter, the beach & the cafe/restaurant thereafter – anything from a very quick 1 hour – usually 2 hours+ up to 3 hours – if we are talking 3 hours – that is a good part of a day – and so one of my suggestions would also be that Skara Brae could be done by yourself on one of your easy days, as you have buses and taxis going there as well – but with 100 clients, each one is unique and also depending on the weather and your interests, the overall plan for the day – I leave this up to you – For Skara Brae it can also make a difference if it is a cruise ship day or not – as having just a few people around and you can enjoy and take in the place or (I would not go to call it that extreme – but on some other sights, Loch Ness/Edinburgh castle, etc. in Scotland) you can’t see “Skara Brae anymore, as all you see is lots of people”
- The dramatic Yesnaby cliffs
- Stromess, Orkney’s 2nd big harbour town – again as there are hourly buses from Kirkwall and it is only 30 minutes journey – you might want to visit on your own on the free day – but I love taking people to the far end of Stromness to show them the great views over to Graemsay and the high mountains of Hoy
- the southern route along Scapa Flow – one of the world’s largest natural harbours with a lot of esp. WWI & II naval history – past Orphir and Waulkmill bay
- to Scapa beach
- through Kirkwall
- heading to the Western mainland of Orkney – highlights of which are Deerness, the Gloup seacliff/cave/sea arch walk, the beaches on both sides of the narrows and the viewpoint overlooking the Churchill barriers and the southern isles
- Crossing the Churchill barriers to the Island of Lamb Holm with the Italian chapel built by prisoners of war
- crossing over to Burray and taking pictures of the shipwrecks and beach, which also depends on the state of the tide, which can be different on both sides of the barriers
- crossing over to South Ronaldsay, highlights among others are for my the small stunning cliff walk from Burwick in the south overlooking the Pentland Firth towards the Scottish mainland and the islands of Swona, Stroma & the Pentland Skerries + St. Margaret’s Hope and Hoxa head with views over to the oil-terminal-island of Flotta
- plus around every corner there is actually a lot more
- and we have not even touched on Kirkwall, the picturesque harbour, the central historic small cobbled streets, amazing historic St. Magnus cathedral and the Orkney museum – all of which for example could take up a few hours of your time on your free day
On either day 1 or day 2 of our tour, I will study the internal ferry time table first, I most highly recommend to visit the Isles of Hoy & South Walls (connected via causeway) – South Walls is generally a quick flypast, a lot is about naval world war history, but our real destination would be the northwest of Hoy with the truly magic & inspiring Rackwick Bay beach in all weathers, nestled below the high cliffs and if you are really intrepid the 2 hours or so return walk to the highest seastack, the Old Man of Hoy with a true wild, nature, wilderness experience – Hoy will give you a sense of a place apart – mythtical, where heaven meets earth, spiritual or what we call “thin” places.
A journey to Hoy including the 40 – 60 minutes return journey each way and the 15 minutes check in before will make up 2/3 to 3/4 of a day and the rest of the day we can visit places on the Orkney mainland, you have not seen yet on day 1.
Suggestion for your free day:
- Skara Brae, if you have not yet been yet
- I most highly recommend the Orkney Isles internal ferries, from Kirkwall harbour you have the ferry terminal to the northern isles – Westray, Sanday, Eday, Stronsay and Shapinsay just across the bay (the other ferry terminal is from Tingwall and for Hoy in Scapa Flow in the South it is Houton) – the islands, esp. Westray and Sanday are a lot bigger than you might think and for each of those you could have a full day tour with a driver/guide.
There are also the smaller isles of Papa Westray and North Ronaldsay (with its seaweed eating ancient Viking soay sheep breed & they wander along the seashore beyond the seawalls shielding the fields.
Orkney Unicorn Tours – a few of the tourists’ favourites – Scara Brae, Ring of Brodgar & Stenness standing stone circles, Scapa Flow, St. Magnus cathedral, Maes Howe & the Ness of Brodgar, the Italian chapel, Brough of Birsay & Broch of Gurness, Kirkwall/Stromness town, harbour & museum, Highland Park & Scapa distilleries, etc.
More photos of our Unicorn Tours stops on the Orkney mainland – during our 5 day tour of the 5 largest Orkney Isles ( Orkney mainland plus all the conjoined islands along the Churchill barrier), Hoy (& S. Walls), Sanday, Roussay & Westray
Orkneys – 70 islands – 20 inhabited – 10 visited on our 5 day tour – 5 islands by ferry & 5 via causeway connections / Day 5 Unicorn Orkney Tours – Hoy via Scapa Flow – Orkney mainland & connected islands along the Churchill barrier & Pentland ferry – Caithness – Sutherland on the way back south again