17 Day Northern Isles of Scotland with one week in the
Orkney Islands and one week in  Shetland.
May 26th - June 11th, 2023
"Nothing captures the ancient and mystical wonder of Scotland more than the islands of
Orkney and Shetland. If you have never experienced these islands, I cannot do them
justice in just words! My love affair with the islands of Scotland started long before I
started offering tours over 20 years ago. I am often asked which time of year that I prefer
to be in the islands and my answer is always the same, whenever I am there! Both Mario
and myself have ancestry that comes from these islands, which is part of the draw for me,
but you can't help but be drawn into the history and wild beauty that abounds at every
turn. Please join me on one of these amazing adventures" - Shannon McDonald Tate
scottish highlands, highlands and islands This tour is designed to accommodate only 12 people for a more personal experience to
allow you to get the most of your Scottish holiday. Keeping the tour size small gives us the
opportunity to veer from the beaten path and take advantage of accommodations,
restaurants and sightseeing venues that would not be available to larger groups. For us, the
two hotels we have chosen are what these islands are all about. These are not luxury hotels,
but small hotels that reflect the people, the foods and the feel that is so important to us in
sharing these magical places with you. Each hotel is quirky, unique and full of character and
charm that will lend itself perfectly to your island experience.
Tour includes all accommodation in Scottish Tourist Board Approved accommodations.
Full Scottish breakfast each morning, all meals listed in itinerary. Porterage of one
suitcase per person. Minibus travel including tour guide. Knowledgeable guide for all
tourist venues. All sightseeing as indicated in itinerary including any entrance fees.
All taxes and service charges.

$9495US per person. $1495 Single Supplement. All singles filled.
$1000 per person deposit to reserve your spot on the tour.  
Our Islands tours are ever changing as ferry crossings may be delayed or cancelled or venues change times or dates. We try
to keep to the itinerary exactly as it is, but sometimes things out of our control happen. We will have many wildlife adventure
on this tour but unfortunately cannot guarantee the sighting of any listed wildlife. If you are not able to easily go with the flow
or have problems with changes that may come up, please do not sign up for this tour! Although we provide the very best level
of accommodation available, we are sometimes limited for choice when we are out in the Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland
Islands. Even so, the two accommodations we have chosen for our islands adventure are indicative of what you will find and
far as we are concerned, the very best choices available.

Our Shetland accommodation is at
Busta House Hotel on the shore of sheltered Busta Voe on mainland Shetland. The earliest
part of the house was built in 1588 and then extended in 1748 and it has quite a history! If you have ever watched the
Shetland TV Series you will recognize parts of the house. You can watch the sun set on the sea as you enjoy specially prepared
Shetland lamb and seafood in the understated elegance of the Pitcairn Room restaurant. The unfussy cooking features good
quality basic ingredients which include Scallops from Busta Voe & Locally Sourced Haddock or Plaice. We would not stay
anywhere else on Shetland and once you experience its rich history, beautiful settings and warm hospitality we think you’ll
Our Orkney accommodation is at
Lynnfield Hotel just on the outskirts of Kirkwall. This small country-house hotel looks
northwards over Orkney’s capital, to Kirkwall Bay and the north isles beyond. It offers beautifully furnished accommodation,
with each room being unique. They are also renowned for the exceptional food which is presented from their restaurant,
perfect for a special meal whilst looking over the Orkney countryside. All of the hotels bedrooms are spacious and tastefully
decorated, furnished with antique beds and complemented by very modern en-suites. You won’t find better accommodation
throughout Kirkwall, or indeed the whole of Orkney!

Pre Tour -May 25th - Arrive into Edinburgh International Airport and spend the day getting rested up at our
airport accommodation before the tour starts the following morning.

Day 1 - May 26th - We will meet this morning at our Edinburgh Airport Accommodation and begin our journey north
Aberdeen. We will take the spectacular eastern coast of Scotland with a few stops along the way. Our first stop will be
Arbroath and Arbroath Abbey, founded by William the Lion in 1178, in memory of martyr Thomas Becket. Here
we explore the origins of the most famous document in Scottish history – the
Declaration of Arbroath. Scotland’s nobles
swore their independence from England in this letter to the Pope, sent from Arbroath Abbey in 1320. The abbey remained
one of the nation’s grandest monasteries for almost 400 years and much later, the Stone of Destiny had a starring role in
Arbroath Abbey’s story. We will have
Afternoon Tea in Aberdeen before making our way to the ferry terminal to
prepare to board our
Overnight Ferry up the North Sea to Shetland. As soon as we are settled into our cabins on the
ferry you will be able to find some dinner on the ship.
Overnight at Sea. (B,L,D)

Day 2 - May 27th -
Arrive into Shetland, a natural world where wildlife is truly wild and where you can watch otters and
seals at play and where the air is filled with the sound of seabirds crowding extraordinary cliffs in huge, noisy colonies.  6,000
starts we make our way to the
Co-Op to pick up our Picnic Lunch for when we get to the very most Northerly Point
in the Shetlands on the
Island of Unst. Our journey will take us north on Mainland Shetlands to Toft where we board a
wee ferry to cross the
Island of Yell. We will stop at the Shetland Gallery on Yell before traveling further northward to
the top of yell to
Gutcher where we board a wee ferry for the crossing to Unst. We will explore the wilds of the Shetlands
and drive to the most northerly point of Unst where we can look out to
Out Stack, and uninhabited island that is the last
land mass before the
North Pole! After a lovely days outing of exploring and amazing photo ops we make our way to our
accommodation back on
Mainland Shetland where we get checked and settled in our new home for the week. Once
settled, we will meet up before dinner for a drink.
Dinner and Overnight Shetland. (B,L,D)

Day 3 - May 28th -
This morning we travel to Eshaness and the Eshaness Lighthouse in the area of Northmavine.
Eshaness boasts one of the highest energy coastlines in the world. Blasted by the full force of the
North Atlantic it displays
a stunning array of stacks, blowholes and geos (narrow inlets). The area of Northmavine boasts a wonderful range of wildlife
and habitats.
Seals, Otters, Porpoises and occasionally Dolphins and Whales can be seen from the shore. Inland
expanses of peat and heather are home to
Mountain Hares, Rabbits, Polecats and a multitude of birds, including the
Red-throated Diver which can be seen on many lochs. The lighthouse, which is visible for miles, is perched on the
rim of fabulous volcanic cliffs where the full Atlantic fury has shaped some of Shetland's most dramatic cliff scenery. You can
walk along to the head of
Calder's Geo, where the sea has gouged out a deep inlet along a line of weakness in the rock.
float on air currents above the surging waves and nest among the crannies of the vertical rock faces, which are
transformed into hanging gardens.
Dinner and Overnight Shetland. (B,L,D)

Day 4 - May 29th -
 This morning we take in the multi-period Jarlshof Prehistoric Norse Settlement. Jarlshof lies at
the most southernly tip of
Mainland Shetland and provides an insight into the way of life of the inhabitants at particularly
interesting periods – the late
Bronze Age, Iron Age, Pictish Era, Norse Era and the Middle Ages. It includes oval-
Bronze Age houses, Iron Age Broch and Wheelhouses, Viking Long Houses, Medieval Farmstead and
a 16th Century Laird’s House.
We will have a tour of the site before we make our way to Sumburgh Head, one of the
most accessible
Seabird Colonies in Britain and is a well-established RSPB Nature Reserve. The cliffs surrounding the
site are teeming with seabirds throughout the summer, including
Puffins, Guillemots, Razorbills, Kittiwakes and
. On our way to Lerwick, the largest town in the Shetlands we will visit the The Croft House Museum, a mid-
nineteenth century
Shetland Croft, which was lived in until the late 60’s. A typical family unit included grandparents,
parents and children. The sea, not the land, was the main provider and the crofter was a fisherman, seaman or whaler. His
wife and family worked the land in his absence. You will then have some free time to wander around Lerwick where the
harbour is an excellent location to seal watch before you find some dinner.
Overnight Shetland. (B,L,D)

Day 5 - May 30th
- This morning we make our way back to Lerwick where we join a Seabirds-and-Seals Three Hour
Boat Trip
around Bressay and Noss National Nature Reserve, where you will get to enjoy more of Shetland's
Abundant Seabirds and Seals.
The views are awesome, giving us photographic opportunities with the awesome Noss
in the background. You won't believe how close they'll take us to the 25,000 Gannets, Thousands of Guillemots
and Hundreds of Puffins, Razorbills, Black Guillemots, Gulls, Shags and Skuas!
You sometimes even meet
Porpoises and occasionally Whales, Otters and Dolphins! We’ll sail through the magnificent rock of the Giant’s Leg
and then into the beautiful
Orkneyman’s Cave. Once back in Lerwick we will stop for lunch and then visit the Shetland
Museum and Archives
which sits on the restored Historic Hay's Dock providing a gateway from which to explore
Shetland's rich heritage and culture. The ground floor concentrates on the history of Shetland up till 1800, from
environmental, geological, and geographical factors, early settlers in the islands, through early agriculture, fishing, early boats,
and the rich folklore of Shetland with exhibits from the last 200 years. We then return home before dinner.
Dinner and
Overnight Shetland. (B,L,D)

Day 6 - May 31st -
This morning we take a full day journey with Shetland Sea Adventure to the Island of Foula,
full of wildlife and beautiful landscapes. A trip you would be hard pressed to match on one of Britain’s most remote inhabited
islands. The passage to and from Foula passes through some of the best whale spotting waters in the UK. The island is home
Da Kame, the second highest sheer cliff in Britain and also Soberlie towering over one of the most remote inhabited
communities in Britain. Lying 20 miles out in the
Atlantic Ocean west of the Shetland mainland, Foula is also home to
Kittiwakes, Guillemots, Razorbills, Puffins, Fulmars, Arctic Skuas, and one of the largest colonies of Bonxies
(great Skuas)
in the world, along with around 30 people and lots of sheep and ponies! We will bring along a packed lunch to
enjoy on Foula which as well as seabirds and cetaceans, Foula’s coastal and cliff scenery – including
Gaada Stack and Da
Sneck ida Smaalie
offering big skies, wild flowers, and moorland and migrant birds making the perfect opportunity to
enjoy a peaceful
‘away from it all’ experience. Dinner on your own in Lerwick before returning home. Overnight
Shetland. (B,L)

Day 7 - June 1st -
Today will be a lovely day starting out with an outdoor pursuit with the Shetland Pony Experience.
We know you did not get enough ponies yet, so no visit to Shetland is complete without getting up close and personal with
some more friendly Shetland ponies. The experience is very hands on and includes plenty of picture perfect photo
opportunities while you lead the ponies through the idyllic, picturesque, rugged coastal fields to a secluded beach. We then
make our way to
Scalloway, once the ancient capital of Shetland. We will stop at “The Scord”, one of the most iconic and
breathtaking views that Shetland has to offer, with harbour, castle, bridge and the scattering of  smaller isles in the harbour
approaches, only the larger of which are occupied. Then you can explore Scalloway and find some lunch on your own before
we visit
Scalloway Castle. The castle was the home of Patrick Stewart, Earl of Orkney and Shetland. ‘Black
, as he became known in Shetland, was notorious for his oppression of the Shetland people. He was accused of using
forced labour in Scalloway’s construction in 1599, and was eventually executed in Edinburgh in 1615. The castle itself stands
as a sophisticated and impressive example of a late 1500s tower house. One of only two castles constructed in Shetland, for
many it stands as a symbol of Earl Patrick’s harsh rule.
Dinner and Overnight Shetland. (B,D)

Day 8 - June 2nd -
We start our morning with a visit to the Shetland Textile Museum. Housed at the Böd of
the museum holds a collection of Shetland textiles which shows the heritage skills unique to these Isles. The
collection comprises several hundred items. It includes
Fair Isle knitting, Shetland lace, Shetland Taatit rugs
and Woven Tweed.
Tools associated with the production of Shetland textiles, and papers and patterns are also held in the
Collection. The date range covers 1870 to 2018. We next visit
Clickimin Broch on the shore of Clickimin Loch, an
outstanding example of a sophisticated type of stone-built round house found only in Scotland. The broch has evidence of a
settlement spanning over a thousand years. We then stop for lunch  and then you will have time for another trip around
Lerwick for some last minute shopping, visit the fudge shop or chocolate shop or just linger for awhile on the harbour to enjoy
your last few moments on Shetland before we check into our ferry for an evening excursion to
Kirkwall on Orkney.  
Overnight Kirkwall, Orkney. (B,L)

Day 9 - June 3rd -
After our late night journey this morning will wake up in Orkney’s Vibrant Capital of Kirkwall, a
Viking Town at heart, with a skyline dominated by the magnificent 12th century Norse Cathedral of St Magnus. After
a late breakfast we make our way to
Stromness, Orkney's Second Largest Town and an architectural gem. It is known
as an inspiration for artists and writers, and a firm favourite with visitors. This famous seaport that has remained unchanged
in centuries, retaining its original maritime charm with narrow winding streets, terraces of houses and steep passageways all
leading to its iconic waterfront and harbour. Some of
Orkney’s Best Crafts, Textiles and Jewellery can be found in the
delightful independent shops to be discovered around every corner, while in local galleries and the
Five-star Pier Arts
the work of artists and sculptors from Orkney and beyond takes centre stage. After some exploration we will meet
up for lunch. Following lunch we make our way back to Kirkwall with a stop at one of
Orkney's Most Popular Beaches,
With views out into Scapa Flow, the beach is a brilliant place to be on a bright afternoon with the sun casting its
colours over the sky. There is an excellent walk along the cliffs at the west side of the beach taking you past the
, a waterfall and plenty of seabirds, en-route to a small sandy bay. Then back home before dinner. Dinner and
Overnight Kirkwall, Orkney. (B,L,D)

Day 10 - June 4th -
We make our way west this morning to Maeshowe, the finest chambered tomb in Western Europe.
Built before 2700 BC, it was raided by the Vikings in the mid-12th century and plundered of its 'treasures'. Maeshowe is
interesting because of the various runic inscriptions carved into the walls.  This is one of the best known collections and
includes the
Maeshowe Dragon - a very well known Orkney icon. We then make our way to Skara Brae, a neolithic village
dating from 2,500 BC which has been hidden under sand dunes, perfectly preserved, for thousands of years and was only
rediscovered 150 years ago. We will also visit the
Broch of Gurness, one of the most outstanding surviving examples of a
later prehistoric settlement that is unique to northern Scotland. The Vikings who settled in Orkney from around 800 often
used the mounds of earlier settlement sites as burial places, and this was the case at Gurness. Next is the
Ring of Brodgar,
a stone ring  built in a true circle originally containing 60 megaliths. Finally we visit the
Standing Stones of Stenness
dating from 3,100BC making the stones complex one of the earliest stone circles in Britain. We then make our way back to
our accommodation for dinner.
Dinner and Overnight Kirkwall, Orkney. (B,D)

Day 11 - June 5th -
First thing this morning we will visit the Tomb of the Eagles on South Ronaldsay Island.
Perched above the dramatic
South Ronaldsay Cliffs, the Isbister Chambered Cairn - better known today as the
‘Tomb of the Eagles’ - is one of Orkney’s top archaeological sites. Discovered by chance by a local farmer in the 1950s, this
Stone Age Tomb revealed an amazing collection of bones and artefacts, placed here some 5,000 years ago. We will then
stop for lunch before we stop at
Highland Park Distillery for a Distillery Tour. This whisky is made with the same
enduring belief and integrity, to the same exacting standards, as it has been since 1798. We will have a tour of the distillery
followed by a wee dram and then you will have some free time in Kirkwall, the largest city on the islands. From anywhere in
Kirkwall you will
St. Magnus Cathedral. Begun in 1137 this cathedral built from alternating bands of local red and yellow
sandstone is one of the finest and best preserved medieval cathedrals in Scotland. We will be taking in the cathedral late on in
the tour so you can explore more of Kirkwall this afternoon. The town officially has
Scotland's Most Beautiful High
full of wonderful shops and interesting streets. You will be able to find some dinner on your own in Kirkwall this
evening before returning home.
Overnight Kirkwall, Orkney. (B,L)

Day 12 - June 6th
- This morning we will take the short journey to the Isle of Hoy. Synonymous with the world famous
sea stack the
Old Man of Hoy, Orkney's second largest island rises dramatically from the sea. With mountainous moorland
and glacial valleys, you will encounter a dramatic highland landscape. Hoy is unlike anywhere else in Orkney. Once on Hoy we
Dwarfie Stane, a huge block of sandstone in which a Neolithic Burial Chamber has been cut. It is believed to date
from around 3000 BC and the tomb was formerly sealed by the blocking stone which now lies in front of the entrance. Hoy is
also famous for its birdlife, including the
Much Loved Puffin! We will have a Packed Lunch Picnic before we visit
Hackness Martello Tower and Battery, part of the extensive military remains on the island. The tower and battery
were built in the early 19th century to provide defence for British convoys at the height of the
Napoleonic War. Barrack
room furniture and other military memorabilia give an idea of life at the barracks and you can stand on the tower and take in
the view towards
Scapa Flow. Then back to the mainland and to our accommodation for dinner. Overnight Kirkwall,
Orkney. (B,L,D

Day 13 - June 7th
- This morning we will visit St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall and have their Upper Levels Tour  
where they unlock the secrets of one of
Orkney's Most Beautiful Buildings. We will walk up the narrow, spiral, stone
staircases of this stunning sandstone cathedral. You will see galleries and collections of artefacts, the clock mechanism, the
huge bells and the base of the spire, before getting the chance to take in a bird’s eye view of Kirkwall too. You will then have
some free time in Kirkwall to find some lunch. After lunch we will take in the ruins of the
Bishop's and Earl's Palaces. The
medieval Bishop’s Palace was built around the same time as St Magnus Cathedral, in the early 1100s. The builder may well
have been
Bishop William the Old, crusader and friend of Earl Rognvald, St Magnus’s nephew and patron of the new
cathedral. Across the road you'll find the Earl's Palace, which was constructed around 1606 by Patrick, Earl of Orkney - one of
Orkney's most notorious rulers. His Renaissance palace was built to impress and featured a first-floor hall with elaborate
staircase, inner, outer and guest chambers and accommodation for staff. Huge fireplaces dominated the main hall. This
evening we will join
Peatfire Tales, a unique Island Evening of Storytelling. Dinner and Overnight Kirkwall,
Orkney. (B,D)

Day 14 - June 8th
- This morning we will take part in a wonderful journey through the Archaeological and Natural
Heritage of the Island of Papay.
We arrive by boat and then meet our guide for a tour of this enchanting island. The
morning will include a short walk to the early
Neolithic Farmstead at the Knap of Howar. These two linked dwellings
are over 5000 years old, making them the oldest standing houses in Europe. We'll also visit
St Boniface Kirk, a beautifully-
restored twelfth century church on the site of an earlier
Celtic Chapel. And then the impressive steading of Holland
where fascinating buildings from the past 400 years intermingle with those of today's vibrant farm. Papay is renowned
for the warmth of its welcome and the quality of its food. We'll break for a delicious
Three Course Lunch at the Kelp
Store Craft & Heritage Centre.
In the afternoon we'll walk the RSPB North Hill Reserve, to see some of Papay's
wildlife highlights. The maritime heath abounds with flowers such as Primula scotica. Up to the end of July, the cliffs of
Craig are home to Nesting Puffins
. The Arctic and Great Skuas will keep you watching the sky throughout the season.
We will also take a moment to remember the extinct
Great Auk - the last British breeding pair was killed here some 200
years ago. A very special day is brought to an end with tea, coffee and home baking.
Dinner and Overnight Kirkwall,
Orkney. (B,L,D)

Day 15 - June 9th
- This morning we take the ferry back across to the mainland at Gills Bay. We will make a stop at John
before continuing south toward Inverness. John O'Groats in know for its iconic 'End of the Road' location as
many people journey here by hiking, bicycling, motorcycling or driving from
Lands End in Cornwall. They are the two
farthest points in the UK connected by road. I like it best for the ice cream here! From here we take the spectacular east
coast drive of
Northern Scotland down through Wick, Dunbeath, Helmsdale, Brora and Goldspie to Dornach
where we will stop at Dornach Castle for Afternoon Tea. Our drive continues with a stop near Invergordon at the
. This Fantastically Stocked Farm Shop is inspired by the love of farming and of great food! Specially
selected products from near and far make this a must stop destination for gourmet treats. The
Gorgeous Little Gift Shop
is packed with beautiful gifts and lovely pieces for your home and wonderful things for any last minute purchases! Our
southern drive then continues through
Culbokie, North Kessock, Inverness, Tomatin and Boat of Garten to
where we stop for the night. Dinner and Overnight Grantown-on-Spey. (B,L,D)

Day 16 - June 10th -
This morning we continue our southward drive to eventually end up near Edinburgh where we
started this amazing adventure! More spectacular scenery abounds as we make our way through the
National Park
to the lovely wee town of Pitlochry, situated in the heart of the stunning scenery of Highland
The name comes from the Gaelic 'Pit Cloich Aire', meaning 'Place of the Sentinel Stone' and it was
originally a
Pictish Settlement. It gained fame during the Victorian Era when Queen Victoria called it 'the
Loveliest Spa Town in all of Europe!'
We are sure you will agree with this assessment and so we will take some time to
enjoy this lovely spot before meeting for
Afternoon Tea on the main street. Our final stop of the day will be to Scone
, home of the Earls of Mansfield. Once the crowning place of Scottish Kings, Scone Palace occupies a unique
position in Scotland’s history. A breathtakingly beautiful place of power and mystery and the rightful home of the celebrated
Stone of Scone, Scone Palace is regarded as a national treasure and is revered as the historic jewel in Scotland’s crown you
will want to visit the gardens before continuing on to our accommodation near Edinburgh.
Farewell Dinner and
Overnight near Edinburgh. (B,L,D)

Day 17 - June 11th -
We return you to Edinburgh International