The Orkney Islands have something for everyone. There's stunning coastal walking, fascinating history, World Heritage archaeological sites and beautiful scenery.
See what's planned
- Visit the Neolithic henge and stone circle of the Ring of Brodgar
- Experience the Neolithic village of Skara Brae
- Visit the Italian Chapel
- Walk to the Old Man of Hoy - look out for Bonxies
- Free time to explore Kirkwall and St. Magnus Cathedral
The classic harbour sounds of seagulls, yachts, and fishing boats create a sense of the surrounding sea. This remains as you uncover evidence of human habitation dating back to the beginning of time. Roam the margins between sea and land, along deserted cliffs, welcoming villages and across treeless landscapes dotted with monuments. Orkney is a unique and mystical place.
We stay in the village of Stromness to take advantage of the stunning coastal walking opportunities. Our programme offers an interest to the naturalist and historian among you, plus a full and exciting week filled with visual delights.
We walk to the Kitchener Memorial, Wideford Hill burial chamber, and (subject to ferries) the Old Man of Hoy. We plan to include walking tours of Kirkwall, Stromness and Birsay, and visits to the Ring of Brodgar, RSPB sites and many other attractions.
- Return flights from Glasgow to Kirkwall (Loganair)
- Airport transfers and all local transport costs
- Half board en suite accommodation
- Services of a dedicated tour leader
What's not included?
- Entrance fees (unless otherwise specified)
- Personal expenses (such as your bar bill)
- Discretionary tips
- Optional excursions
- Travel Insurance (you can add this when you book)
This is a Grade 4 moderate holiday which includes full day walks at a moderate pace. Some of the walks are at the top of the grade especially in poor weather conditions so please bear this in mind. The guided walks will vary between inland and coastal walking. Some of the coastal walks involve many short ascents and descents, however, the views make it worthwhile.
Our bottom line is happy travellers, and to that end we trust our tour leaders to use the itinerary below as a basis for providing you with a great holiday. We expect our leaders to make adjustments to the itinerary if the weather, group ability or other local conditions make that necessary. There are normally more options available to our leaders than those listed below and one or more of these options may well be chosen. All distances, heights & timings are approximate.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we may unfortunately need to withdraw a tour that is currently confirmed to operate and we therefore reserve the right to cancel your booking. We would always do our utmost to give you plenty of notice should we have to do this. Selected elements of this tour, including local attractions and restaurants, may change at late notice. Please ensure you have valid insurance cover before you travel.
The Stromness Hotel
We fly to Kirkwall Airport and transfer to the Stromness Hotel in Stromness.
Transfer Time = 35 minutes
Stromness & Brinkies Brae
The Stromness Hotel
Today starts with a short orientation walk to the hill, Brinkies Brae, just above Stromness to enjoy views across the town, harbour and on to the Island of Hoy we will be later visiting. After a walk through Stromness we continue across fields to the west coast where we take a coastal trail to Warebeth beach and on to Breck Ness. Along the trail we should be able to watch one of the many local seal colonies.
Later we return to Stromness. Those who choose may visit the intriguing Victorian local museum. Here the Orkney relationship with the Hudson Bay Company in Northern Canada is recorded along with involvement with the Royal Navy at Scapa Flow and local artefacts.
Birsay to Skara Brae
The Stromness Hotel
At Birsay, there is the shell of the Earl’s Palace – built in the 1500s by a notorious Earl Robert Stewart (learn about the intrigue during the visit). This is followed by the most splendid of coastal walks with cliff views and a variety of bird species and, depending on the season, a chance of seeing a variety of whales. The trail passes a grand memorial to Lord Kitchener and turf-roofed fishermen’s huts.
A tour highlight comes at the end of the walk with a visit to Skara Brae (a World Heritage site) village that is Northern Europe’s best preserved Neolithic Village. Next to Skara Brae is Skaill House, a 1620 family home, now open to the public and included in our trip.
Wideford Hill and Kirkwall
The Stromness Hotel
Now for a hill walk – taking us up Wideford Hill (225m). On the way we visit a chambered cairn and then a heathland walk and tracks descending to the Orkney capital of Kirkwall. The walk is about 4.5 miles.
The St Magnus Cathedral, dating from 1137, is a must to visit in your free time exploring Kirkwall. The structure is unlike that of many cathedrals and was built of red sandstone by Durham masons. Opposite the Cathedral is the Kirkwall museum where local artefacts are displayed to include the famous ‘Orkney chair’. For the radio enthusiasts there is a specialist Wireless Museum and for those wanting to experience a local dram a visit to the Highland Park Distillery for a tour is well worthwhile. Highland Park is the most northerly distillery in Scotland.
The Stromness Hotel
A short ferry boat trip to Rousay Island where a large part of the island is managed by the RSPB. We will be met by the island mini-bus and taken to Midhowe Cairn. The Cairn comprises chambers that are over 32m in length and dating from 3000BC, now preserved under a protective cover. Before starting our walk, we examine the impressive ruins of the nearby Broch. From here we walk along the shore and past Westness – an ancient farm complex including the remains of St Mary’s 16th Century church.
The next part of the day is taken with a walk over a moorland area called Trumland (managed by the RSPB) and to Knitchen Hill. From the hill top there can be fine views across to other islands in the Orkney group. The day ends back at the ferry port where we can have tea and cake while waiting for our ferry back to the mainland.
The island of Hoy
The Stromness Hotel
Just a short ferry boat trip from Stromness to Moaness on Hoy to visit the 2nd largest island in the archipelago. We will be met by a mini bus and taken to view the Dwarfie Stane – cut from rock in about 3000BC. This is followed by commencing a trail from Rackwick to the most famous of sites – ‘The Old Man of Hoy’. The island of Hoy is the largest RSPB reserve and apart from puffins there could be fulmars, guillemots, kittiwakes, razorbills and shags to be seen in season.
The Stromness Hotel
A day of visits to include some of the world famous Neolithic sites of: The Ring of Brodgar, Standing Stones of Stenness and, on the banks of Loch Harray, the foundations of the “Barnhouse Village”. A must is a visit to Maes Howe, another World Heritage site, considered to be the finest chambered cairn in Northern Europe and covers a diameter of 35m and 7m in height.
Moving on to more recent times the ‘Italian Chapel’ will be visited. The chapel is a master craftsman’s structure having being made during the Second World War by Italian prisoners of war that were camped on the island. Travelling to the chapel the ‘Churchill barriers’ will be passed. These are remarkable structures, along with block ships (some of which can still be seen) were designed to protect the Scapa Flow naval base. Along the route, the islands of Lamb Holm, Glimps Holm, Burray and South Ronaldsay will be passed with many opportunities to view coastal birds.
We return to the airport for our flight back to mainland Scotland.
We hope you have enjoyed your holiday and we look forward to welcoming you on another soon.
We return to the airport for our flight back to mainland Scotland.
Walks & Excursions
The stunning coastal walking, fascinating history, World Heritage status archaeological sites, beautiful scenery, RSPB sites and an unhurried pace of life mean the Orkney Islands have something to offer everyone.
The terrain in Orkney is gently undulating so our walks will not involve sustained climbing. Generally, 5-7 miles of walking is covered with ascents of a maximum of about 500ft. On some days we may cover up to 9 miles.
Local Transport Costs
All local transport costs in conjunction with the advertised activity programme are included in the holiday cost. There may be occasions where additional visits or excursions are added to enrich your experience, these will be paid for locally by you if you choose to participate. Local transport can be a mix of private hire coaches, taxis, local buses and ferries depending on the itinerary.
A range of local excursions and activities may be available to book at your destination through a local operator.
We have no involvement in such activities or excursions which are not run, supervised or controlled in any way by
us. Your contract will be with the local activity supplier and we accept no responsibility for their actions or omissions.
When budgeting for your holiday, you will need to consider drinks, any meals not included in the holiday price,
non-included entrance fees, optional excursions you may choose to participate in locally and any souvenirs or
additional services such as laundry. A general guideline for lunches and drinks is £10-£20 per person per day.
The cost of any entrance fees to sites visited is not included.
Please consider the following entrance fees when budgeting for your holiday.
- Stromness Museum £ 5.00
- Skara Brae & Skaill House £ 9.00
- Maes Howe £ 9.00
- Highland Park Distillery £ 10.00
- Italian Chapel £ 3.00
Please also note that membership of English Heritage allows you reduced price or free admission to various historic sites on Orkney.
Although entirely at your own discretion, tipping is an important aspect of tourism and hospitality life and expectations are fairly high. In order to simplify tipping, we strongly recommend that you allow your leader to take care of making sure tips are given to hotel and restaurant staff and to local guides and drivers. This will be done using some funds provided by us together with, if you wish, a contribution from you, which he/she will collect during the holiday.
Tour Leaders & Local Guides
Your tour leader makes the world of difference to your holiday and ours are as passionate about discovering the world on foot as you are. They're resourceful, organised and widely travelled. They will handle all the local administration and other needs that might arise to ensure that you don't have to worry about planning your days and you can enjoy your holiday. Although leading group holidays, they won't forget that every group is made up of individuals. Each tour leader has their own individual style, talents and professional backgrounds and all are trained, qualified, experienced and dedicated to making your holiday as enjoyable, interesting and inspiring as possible.
Leader's Evening Briefing
Each evening, your tour leader will discuss with you the programme for the following day. This will be your opportunity to discuss the details and ensure the planned activities suit your walking ability. If you have concerns on clothing or equipment, this can be discussed then also. If you do not wish to join the organised group programme, please let the leader know.
Your Travel Details
We fly from Glasgow to Kirkwall on Loganair. There are regional flights from airports in the U.K. to connect with the onward flight to Kirkwall.
Although there is no passport control between Orkney and the rest of the United Kingdom, please do not forget your passport to satisfactorily establish your identity and nationality when boarding your flight. Nationals of EU countries may use their national identity cards instead of passports.
Nationals of countries other than Britain or other EU member states travelling to the UK should check with the nearest British Embassy or Consulate in their country of residence as to whether they require a visa. If a visa is required, it must be obtained prior to travel.
Some people prefer to make their own travel arrangements and to get to Stromness on the ferry from Scrabster. This is a scenic boat crossing past Hoy. Scrabster is about 2 miles from Thurso which can be reached by train from Inverness.
Personal Details Check
To ensure that we can accurately administer your holiday arrangements, please confirm that the personal details we hold for you are up to date and that you have provided the information we need to secure your holiday travel and accommodation arrangements. Please check your passport details, date of birth and any other important details necessary for us to properly manage your holiday booking. You can view and update information already provided, and add details not yet asked for, by using the Manage My Booking facility on our website www.ramblersholidays.co.uk, or by calling our Sales and Reservations team on +44 (0)1707 331133. When you receive your booking confirmation please check the details as soon as possible.
Passports and Visas
Passport Information for United Kingdom
Any non UK or EU citizens may be subject to passport, identity card or visa requirements to enter the United Kingdom.
This tour is on a half board basis. Breakfasts and dinners are offered at the hotel. Please note that lunches are not included on this holiday.
Footwear & Kit List
Lightweight waterproof walking boots with a good moulded sole (such as Vibram or similar) and a deep tread and which provide ankle support are strongly recommended and may be essential for some walks.
Footwear As Hand Luggage
We recommend that you either wear your walking boots or shoes or pack them and some waterproofs in your hand luggage as in the unlikely event that your hold luggage is delayed, you will still be able to participate in the holiday programme.
General Kit List
Outdoor activities are always safer and more enjoyable if you are prepared.
If you have not travelled with us before the following list might be of use:
- Waterproof jacket (Goretex or similar) and trousers
- Lightweight quick-drying trousers
- Walking T-shirt/shirts
- Walking socks
- Fleece or jumper
- Sun hat, sunglasses, lip salve and sun block
- Warm hat and gloves (if appropriate)
- Swimwear (if appropriate)
- Day sack (this should be able to carry all you would need for the day's activity)
- Day sack liner
- Water bottle - at least 1 litre capacity (more than 1 bottle may be required)
- Basic first aid kit
- Walking poles (should you find them useful)
- Sit mat
This list is not exhaustive and every walker is different and may have their own preference.
Travel Documents Checklist
Documents and Information to take with you:
- Holiday money
- Credit or debit cards (and separate details of who to call if lost)
- Car parking ticket and car park directions (if prebooked)
- Coach or rail travel tickets (if prebooked)
- Holiday booking confirmation document
- Travel insurance details (if applicable)
- Details of any medical condition or allergy your holiday leader should know about
Water To Go
An alternative to bottled water from single-use sealed water bottles is
filtered water from a refillable bottle containing its own water filter
such as a Water-to-go bottle available from
Just fill up from any water source and save the environment from disposable plastic bottles.
We have negotiated an exclusive 15% discount with our partners Water-to-Go
for you as a thank you for helping the environment. Please go to their website
at www.watertogo.eu and
enter the code RWH17 when ordering. In addition, Water-to-Go will match the
discount with a donation to our charity, Heart & Sole, which will allow us
to continue to make a difference in the countries you visit on our holidays.
Maps, Guidebooks & Other Information
Maps, Guidebooks & More
The walks mentioned above are covered by the following map:
Ordnance Survey Landranger Series
No. 6 Orkney Mainland (1:50,000)
The Map Shop
Maps and guidebooks relating to the areas you will be walking in may be bought before your holiday from The Map Shop at www.themapshop.co.uk
Visit the following websites for an idea of the climate in your destination:
Staying Healthy On Holiday
Health requirements can change at any time. It is your own responsibility
to ensure that you inform yourself from a professionally qualified source on,
and comply with, such requirements at least 6 to 8 weeks before departure.
Advice on vaccinations is available from your GP.
Health Advice for United Kingdom
No compulsory immunisations are required for holidays in the UK although you should be up to date with the usual immunisations recommended for life in Britain. Tetanus immunisation is recommended.
Further Travel Advice
For further advice please visit:
You might wish to take a small bottle of antibacterial hand gel with you for times when you're unable to wash your hands.
Although not compulsory for British and EU citizens resident in the UK, we strongly recommend that you take out travel insurance to cover you in the event of eventualities such as unexpected cancellation, accident or illness before your holiday or the loss of personal possessions.
Visitors who are not British Citizens (or who are not EU citizens resident in the UK), must be adequately insured to join our holidays and will be unable to participate in our local walking and other activity programmes without being able to demonstrate that you have valid travel insurance.
The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office provides up to date information
on security and local laws for travellers, together with current
passport and visa information, at www.gov.uk/travelaware.
Please take a few minutes to look at the current advice on your
Please be aware of what's going on around you, take sensible
precautions with your credit cards and passport and avoid displays
of wealth such as wearing expensive jewellery or watches.
Do not carry more cash on you than you will need for each day,
and we recommend that a money belt is used.
We're committed to ethical tourism in all our destinations.
Our holidays are designed for you to discover the essence
of the country you are visiting. Travelling in small groups
not only gives you an up close and personal experience of
your destination, but minimises your impact on the immediate
environment. We feel that the most important starting point
to protect the environment is to be out in it.
For more details visit our website.
The Ramblers Holidays Charitable Trust
Unlike many tour operators we have our own trust through which RWH Travel’s profits are channelled back into a variety of outdoor, walking-related or environmental conservation projects in the UK. The focus of the Trust’s financial support is Britain’s leading walking charity, The Ramblers, and their role in promoting the benefits and importance of walking to the British public. In addition the Trust welcomes applications for small grants from local organisations in the UK who need support for walking-orientated activities. This includes the establishment of footpaths and bridleways, funding for rebuilding bridges and renovating huts, as well as bursary funding for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award for children who could not otherwise afford to do it. Please visit the ‘About Us’ section of our website and click on the Charitable Trust link for more details.
Heart and Sole
We appreciate that we are in a fortunate position to be able
to use our profits to help make a difference to people's lives.
Heart & Sole is a venture managed by our office staff, whose
aim is to reach the heart of the communities in the countries
we visit. Through Heart & Sole, we hope to make more of a long
term, direct impact to these communities, particularly in less
developed countries where even a small amount goes a long way.
See our website for more information and details of some of the
projects we support.
Staying In Touch
Please do provide us with a mobile phone contact number. We will only use this to contact you with important information relating to your holiday arrangements.
Do keep your mobile phones switched on and readily available when travelling to the airport or if delayed in transit so that we can contact you with any last minute information relating to your travel arrangements.
As a matter of courtesy, please switch off your mobile phone during walks, or endeavour to minimise its use. Please also try to minimise the use of mobile devices during group meals.
We welcome all comments about our holidays and value ideas for the future. If you have provided us with an email address we will invite you to complete an online questionnaire or to add feedback to our page on the independent review site 'Feefo'.
Please note that this Holiday Information sheet may be periodically updated and reissued.
In most cases the revisions will be minor and the overall nature
of the holiday will remain unchanged. Should we make a major change
to your holiday arrangements between you booking your holiday and
your date of travel we will notify you to specifically draw your
attention to any significant change.
You may wish to review the latest version of this Holiday Information Sheet online prior to travel.
Please note that any advertised offers, benefits or initiatives may be discontinued at any time.
Ramblers Walking Holidays
Our office is open and our Sales & Reservations team are available to speak to you from:
- 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday
Please quote your Booking Reference number and Tour Code whenever contacting us.
We wish you an enjoyable holiday!
Our holiday walking grades
Full and half day walks at a moderate pace over hilly terrain.
Most of these holidays have an element of sightseeing as well.
Half day walks will probably involve about 3 hours of walking, with full day walks having around 5 hours. Expect ascents and descents of up to 600m.
Discover more about our walking grades