We depart from our designated departure points and travel to Aberdeen where we board the Northlink Ferry ‘Hrossey’ overnight to Lerwick.
Once on board we shall check-in to our comfortable, twin-berth cabins which all have en-suite facilities. The ship has a delightful restaurant, where dinner is served this evening, together with a bar and lounges where you can relax. There is also a well-stocked gift shop for souvenir shopping or essential items.
After breakfast on board we will leave the ship and commence our tour of Shetland. In the morning we will explore the island’s capital town of Lerwick, where we have some free time and an opportunity for lunch (not included). In the afternoon we travel through small communities such as Gulberwick and Cunningsburgh to the southern tip of mainland Shetland, Sumburgh Head, where the North Sea on the east meets the Atlantic Ocean on the west. Here we visit the RSPB Reserve which is home to thousands of seabirds, including puffins, guillemots and razorbills. We will then travel the short distance to the outstanding Prehistoric and Norse Settlement of Jarlshof, with over 3 acres of remains, spanning 3000 years since the days of the Stone Age, including oval shaped bronze age houses, iron age broch and wheel houses, Viking long houses and medieval farmhouses.
Following our visit here we transfer to the comfortable Sumburgh Hotel, located adjacent to the Jarlshof site. All rooms have en-suite facilities, tv, telephone, hairdryer, trouser press, radio alarm and tea/coffee making facilities.
Dinner will be served in the evening.
After a leisurely breakfast we depart for North Mainland, stopping first at Scalloway, the former capital of Shetland where we visit the ruined castle built in 1600 by the infamous Earl Patrick Stewart. We continue through Tingwall Valley, the site of the old Norse parliament (Ting) and through the picturesque areas of Whiteness and Weisdale. Look out for the ‘Otters Crossing’ sign at the narrow isthmus known as Mavis Grind, where it is said to be possible to throw a stone from the North Sea to the Atlantic. From here we continue to the spectacular cliffs of Eshaness, before turning round and heading back to Lerwick, where we will re-join our ship, which sails at 1730 hours for Orkney. Dinner is served on board.
On arrival in Orkney (expected 2300hrs) we will transfer the short distance to Kirkwall where accommodation has been arranged at the comfortable Kirkwall Hotel, overlooking the harbour.
This morning following breakfast we will depart on a tour of the south end of mainland Orkney, crossing the Churchill Barriers which were built after the sinking of the HMS Royal Oak in October 1939. The causeways are built of 5 and 10 ton concrete blocks and have good roads on the top connecting Burray and South Ronaldsay to the Orkney mainland. We also stop off at the beautiful Italian Chapel, built on the site of a former prisoner of war camp. Several hundred Italians, captured during the North African campaign of World War II were sent here to work on the Causeways and converted two huts into a chapel. The marvellous paintings in the interior were done by Domenico Chiocchetti, one of the prisoners who has returned several times to restore and repaint parts of the building.
Thereafter we have some free time to explore Kirkwall and its environs at leisure. Places of interest include St. Magnus Cathedral, one of Europe’s greatest architectural masterpieces, its red and yellow sandstone still vibrant after 861 years, and the Bishop’s Palace. Dinner will be served at the hotel in the evening.
After breakfast today we have an all day excursion of mainland Orkney visiting the many archaeological sites including Maeshowe, the finest chambered tomb in Western Europe. Built before 2700 B.C. Maeshowe was raided by Vikings in the 12th Century. It houses the largest collection of runic inscriptions to be found in any one place in the world. We visit the port of Stromness and have lunch. In the afternoon we visit Skara Brae, with its new visitors centre depicting the history of this world famous monument; and the Standing Stones of Stenness, lying to the north side of the Orphir Hills. Later we visit the great stone circles of Brodgar and Stenness. To this day the monument’s age remains uncertain, however it is generally thought to have been erected between 2500BC & 2000BC. Dinner shall be served this evening in a local restaurant.
Later this evening we will board the Northlink vessel ‘Hjaltland’ when you will be able to enjoy a drink in the bar, settle in to your cabin or simply watch the quayside activity of the ship as we prepare for our sailing at 22.30hrs for Aberdeen.
After our breakfast on board we will disembark in Aberdeen at 08.30hrs approximately. We will then return you to your original pick up points by late morning/early afternoon.