The Orkney Islands - a World Apart

The Orkney Islands - a World Apart

A 6 day tour with breathtaking scenery

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A 6 day tour with breathtaking scenery

The Orkney Islands are located off the northern tip of Scotland where the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean meet. Orkney is made up of 70 or so islands and skerries, currently 21 of them are inhabited.

 

Kirkwall

The main town and Capital of the islands is Kirkwall and with its narrow main street with many craft and gift shops, cafes, hotel restaurants and bars is a great central location from which to explore the islands. Kirkwall is dominated by the magnificent St Magnus Cathedral, founded by Earl Rognvald Kolson in 1137, with its red sandstone walls and large columns, ramparts and vaulted ceiling is a 'must see' if visiting the capital. Other historical remains are close by and also worth exploring and of course all the local amenities you would expect in a large town are also available.

Stromness

Stromness is the second biggest town in Orkney and undoubtedly the most picturesque. The town grew up around the sheltered harbour of Hamnavoe as the fishing industry grew and trade routes opened with Canada. The narrow winding street follows the shoreline with many lanes and alleyways leading off. Houses along the waterfront have private piers and slipways and the dramatic backdrop of Brinkies Brae and the hills of Hoy make this another 'must see' for any visitor. The award winning Pier Arts Centre is also found in the centre of the town and the museum gives an excellent account of Orkney's maritime history.

Ring of Brodgar & Standing Stones of Stenness

The Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar are two of Britain’s best-preserved prehistoric monuments. They were built between 5,400 and 4,500 years ago.

 

Skara Brae

The Neolithic settlement of Skara Brae lies near the dramatic white beach of the Bay of Skaill. Skara Brae is the best-preserved group of prehistoric houses in western Europe. Uncovered by a storm in 1850, the site presents a remarkable picture of life around 5,000 years ago. Visitors can experience a vivid impression of the realities of a prehistoric village and see ancient homes fitted with stone bed enclosures, dressers and seats. A replica construction allows visitors to fully understand the interior of a prehistoric house.

 

Skapa Flow

After World War One the German Fleet was interned at Skapa Flow under the terms of the Armistice whilst negotiations took place over the fate of the ships. Fearing that all of the ships would be seized and divided amongst the allied powers, the German commander, Admiral Ludwig von Reuter decided to scuttle the fleet. The scuttling was carried out on 21 June 1919.

Churchill Barriers

The Churchill Barriers were originally constructed during World War II, on the orders of First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill, to protect the eastern approaches to the British home fleet anchorage in Scapa flow. The channels lying between the small islands to the east were seen as a potential threat, as they left the anchorage open to attack. To counter this threat, blockships were sunk in the channels to render them unusable. Unfortunately, the deployment of the blockships was to prove less effective than planned, and on October 14, 1939 a German U boat, taking advantage of an unusually high tide, successfully navigated past the blockships undetected and launched 7 torpedoes, 3 of which struck HMS Royal Oak which sunk within 15 minutes. Churchill visited the area soon after the tragedy and immediately ordered the construction of causeways to block the channels permanently. Four barriers would be built: the first from Mainland to Lamb Holm; the second from Lamb Holm to Glimps Holm; the third from Glimps Holm to Burray; and the fourth from Burray to South Ronaldsay.

The Italian Chapel

The Italian Chapel is a highly ornate Catholic chapel on Lamb Holm. It was built during World War II, from 2 nissen huts, by Italian prisoners of war, who were housed on the previously uninhabited island while they constructed the Churchill Barriers to the east of Scapa Flow. Only the concrete foundations of the other buildings of the prisoner-of-war camp survive. It was not completed until after the end of the war, and was restored in the 1960s and again in the 1990s. It is now a popular tourist attraction, and a category A listed building. Most of the interior decoration was done by Domenico Chiocchetti, a prisoner from Moena. He painted the sanctuary end of the chapel and fellow-prisoners decorated the entire interior. They created a facade out of concrete, concealing the shape of the hut and making the building look like a church. Chiocchetti remained on the island to finish the chapel, even when his fellow prisoners were released shortly before the end of the war.

Today the tin tabernacle is still used as a chapel and remains a popular tourist attraction, receiving over 100,000 visitors every year. It has become one of the best-known and moving symbols of reconciliation in the British Isles.

Friday 11th May

We depart Cumbria in the morning and travel north via Stirling, Perth and Inverness to Thurso and our overnight stay at the Station Hotel, dinner in the hotel.

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Saturday 12th May

Following breakfast in the hotel we have a short visit to John O’ Groats for a photo opportunity before heading to Scrabster and the lunchtime sailing to Stromness. After our arrival on Orkney we have a drive around the Ring of Brodgar, calling at the famous Stones of Stenness. We then check in to the Stromness Hotel for the next 4 nights, Dinner in the hotel.

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Sunday 13th May

A full day tour today where we see some dramatic coastal scenery, tranquil agricultural landscape and an opportunity to discover over 5000 years of history at the World Heritage site Skara Brae. We return to Stromness for dinner.

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Monday 14th May

Morning visit to Kirkwall. Time at leisure to explore Kirkwall and its magnificent 12th century cathedral. We return to Stromness early afternoon. Dinner at the hotel.

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Tuesday 15th May

A full day guided tour of the eastern mainland including Scapa Flow, the Churchill Barriers and the famous Italian Chapel. We return to Stromness and our farewell dinner in the hotel.

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Wednesday 16th May

After breakfast we leave our hosts on Orkney and return via ferry to Scrabster and then home to Cumbria and we are due to arrive home late evening.

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B=Breakfast Included, D=Dinner Included

Stromness Hotel

Overlooking the picturesque harbour in Stromness (birthplace of George MacKay Brown), the Stromness Hotel provides comfortable accommodation and finest Orkney produce in our Scapa Flow restaurant to make your trip to Orkney very special.

Established in 1901, our historic 42 bedroomed hotel lies in the heart of the unique fishing port of Stromness, overlooking the working harbour and Scapa Flow. The bedrooms are ensuite with telephones, colour television and tea/coffee making facilities. A lift serves all floors.

 

With award winning Orkney Ales and over one hundred malt whiskies (including special bottlings from the Highland Park Distillery and Scapa Distillery), the residents lounge of the hotel offers a quiet and cosy atmosphere in this historic town in Orkney.

Indulge in the charm of a picturesque village harbour view from the bay windows of the Hamnavoe Lounge Bar where award winning Orkney Ales are available on tap or enjoy a welcoming open fire and warm atmosphere in the traditional splendour of the Flattie Bar. Residents can enjoy a cosy quiet atmosphere in the Still Room with a choice of over one hundred malt whiskies.

 

The a la carte Scapa Flow Restaurant prides itself on using the finest local Orcadian produce - the very best grass-reared beef, fresh fish and succulent shellfish.

 

To the rear of the Hotel we have a large beautifully kept Victorian Garden where residents can enjoy a stroll in the evening or a quiet refreshment whilst relaxing in the afternoon.

Below is a list of pick-up points available on this tour.

Below is a list of pick-up points available on this tour.

Name Address Contact Details
Appleby The Sands Appleby
Aspatria Car Park beside Spar Aspatria
Brough Monument Bus Shelter Brough
Carlisle Entrance to Sands Centre Car Park Carlisle
Cockermouth Monument Main Street Cockermouth
Dearham Commercial Corner Dearham
Distington Outside Prospect Works Distington
Egremont Conservative Club Egremont
Flimby Railway Station Flimby
Harrington Galloping Horse bus stop Harrington
High Hesket Palmerstons Furniture Store
Keswick Bell Close Car Park Keswick
Kirkby Stephen Market Square Kirkby Stephen
Maryport Outside Coop Maryport
Penrith Sandgate Bus Station Penrith
Thursby Bus Stop Thursby
Waverton Bus Stop Waverton
Whitehaven Old Bus Station Whitehaven
Wigton Old Bus Station Wigton
Workington Lay By opposite Grahams Travel Jane St. Workington
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