Orkney – Three Day Tour- History, Culture and Wildlife – Itinerary
The Orkney – Three Day Tour with; History, Culture and Wildlife begins with the stunning coastal drive north from Inverness. Sailing over lunchtime gives the afternoon to enjoy Orkney. We visit to several places of interest. Kirkwall is our overnighting base. As a result of adding a day, we can do much more. We can sample the arts and crafts, take clifftop and wildlife walks, visit a distillery, a brewery or enjoy an Orkney gin-tasting. You may choose three or four of the listed options dependent upon time and weather.
Additionally, of course, we still visit all of the places included on the two day Heart of Neolithic Orkney Tour. We describe these sites more fully below. We may shuffle the order in which we visit attractions, or which ferries we recommend using, because of weather and other factors.
The Orkney Distilleries
The Orkney Distilleries are three in number, and all located in Kirkwall. Highland Park and Scapa are the two whisky distilleries and the Orkney Distillery creates Kirkjuvagr, the hand-crafted Orkney gin. All three are happy to offer tours but these should be booked in advance.
The Orkney Walks
The Orkney Walks are lovely and can be found throughout the islands. Among our favourites are the cliffs and sea stack of Yesnaby on the west coast, and the walk to the Gloup and the Mull Head Reserve in Deerness parish to the east. Newark Bay (where the mermaids come to sing) is near Mull Head, and the beach walk here is lovely due to the perfect curve of the bay.
The Orkney Breweries
The Orkney Breweries (Swannay Brewery and Orkney Brewery) have both won dozens of awards. Both normally offer tours, and the Orkney Brewery has a very nicely appointed restaurant.
The Orkney Crafts
Quality and uniqueness are the hallmark of Orkney Crafts. Visitors love seeing the craft workshops so we take you to places like Sheila Fleet’s Kirk Gallery. She is a leading Orkney jeweller and has opened the Gallery and Cafe Tankerness in order to showcase her work. The Hoxa Tapestry Gallery is great to visit in order to marvel at Leila Thomson’s large handwoven Tapestries. The Orkney Furniture Maker in Kirkwall is happy for visitors to watch the creation of an Orkney Chair. The Orkney Winery and Judith Glue in Kirkwall both house a broad cross-section of Orkney crafts including foodstuffs, pottery, knitwear and of course … Orkney Ice Cream!
Other Orkney Attractions – Orkney – Three Day Tour
Other Orkney attractions that may interest you include locations like the Tomb of the Eagles (which can be combined with a lovely walk), the Hill O’ Cuween (a chambered cairn), the Pictish and Norse remains on the tidal island of the Brough of Birsay and ….
Scapa Flow and the Churchill Barriers
Many of the Orkney Islands, together, nearly encircle an area of sea called Scapa Flow. It was the home of the British Navy in both World Wars, and has a chequered history. Scapa is one of the most popular cold water diving centres in the world because of the scuttling of 52 ships of the German High Seas Fleet in 1919. The sinking of the Royal Oak and the building of the Churchill Barriers are two of the big stories of WWII.
The Italian Chapel
Winston Churchill tasked Italian prisoners of war with building the Churchill Barriers in 1942. These causeways between the islands protected Scapa from attack, but also resulted in improved communications. Those prisoners created the Italian Chapel as a place of worship within their camp. Given what they managed to build from two Nissan huts and the everyday materials they had to hand is truly amazing. As a result, locals often refer to the chapel as “the miracle of Camp 60.
Kirkwall (meaning Church Bay) is Orkney’s main settlement. This small but attractive city has many attractions, including an award-winning library and great museum. The main street has many 16th century buildings and a range of attractive local shops. The bustling harbour, too, is a great place to spend time.
The Bishop’s and Earl’s Palaces
The Bishop’s and Earl’s Palaces are a complex of ruined historical buildings in the centre of Kirkwall. The Vikings built the Bishop’s Palace in the 1100’s. Patrick, known as “Wicked Earl of Orkney” was the tyrant responsible for building the Earl’s Palace in the 1600’s. It surprises us that despite his tyranny and cruelty, Patrick was responsible for the building of “possibly the most mature and accomplished piece of Renaissance architecture left in Scotland”
St Magnus Cathedral
The Vikings began the mammoth rask of constructing St Magnus Cathedral in 1137. It is a stunning building, containing many items of interest and a wealth of stories. It belongs to the people of Kirkwall and Orkney and so has played host (even in modern times) to the services of different denominations as required.
The Stones of Stenness
The Stones of Stenness (at about 5,200 years old) is thought to be the oldest stone circle in the country (1,000 years older than Stonehenge). This was an ancient ceremonial site which originally had a circle of 12 stones. Only 4 still remain upright, but the tallest still stands over 16 feet tall.
Maeshowe Chambered Cairn
Maeshowe (around 4,800 years old) is the largest of Orkney’s chambered cairns and is aligned on the midwinter setting sun. The passage to the central chamber is nearly 50 feet long. That chamber has the largest collection of Viking runes outside of Scandinavia due to the carving skills of some bored and snowbound Vikings in 1153.
The Ring of Brodgar
The Ring of Brodgar (around 4,500 years old) is a massive stone circle, about 340 feet across. Originally having 60 stones, 36 now survive (along with over a dozen prehistoric burial mounds). Although mystery still surrounds its original purpose, there is no denying the significance of its location, on a rise surrounded by land and water, under big skies and an ever-changing island light.
Skara Brae has been called Western Europe’s most complete Neolithic village. Preserved beneath the sands of a large sand dune for millennia, until uncovered by a storm in 1850, this cluster of 5,000 year old houses is remarkable. The village street, the drains, the furniture and even the artifacts of everyday life are all there, thus helping us understand how our distant ancestors lived.
Orkney – Three Day Tour – History, Culture and Wildlife – Price
£1260 for the tour. Ferry tickets are separate online purchases for you. The ferry tickets price may vary slightly as a result of the number of people in your party, and there will be a guide lodgings supplement of £210 for 2021.
Orkney – Three Day Tour – History, Culture and Wildlife – Departure
The tour departs from your Inverness accommodation, or any transport hub, such as bus station, train station or airport. You tell us, and we’ll be there.