Orkney Tour Options

Tour Guides

Hilltop, Ireland Road, Stenness, Orkney, KW16 3EZ

    Welcome to Orkney Tour Options

    We plan your tour to meet your individual interests. 

    Here are some ideas.

     A half day tour of up to 4 hours could include:-  

    Unstan Tomb [a smaller version of Maeshowe],

    the Standing Stones of Stenness [the oldest stone circle in Britain],

    the Ring of Brodgar [the third largest stone circle in Britain], and

    the Village of Skara Brae [the best preserved neolithic village in Europe]. 

    We would also visit the Italian chapel and drive along Scapa Flow looking at the Orkney landscapes.

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    Here is a selection of other places you might explore.

     

    Maeshowe Chambered Cairn - 5,000 years old and the finest chambered tomb in north-west Europe. It has to be prebooked.

    [Please note that the entrance passage is 12m long and 1.15m high so you need to be able to walk stooping to get into it.  However once inside the chamber is 4m high and there is electric light.]

     

    Ness of Brodgar is an ongoing archaeological dig from mid July to mid August.  A magnificent neolithic ritual complex has been discovered, used for over a 1,000 years. Free visits to the site while the dig is in progress.

     

    

    Iron Age Broch of Gurness.  A Brochs is a fortified round tower.  Built by upwardly mobile Iron age leaders as a statement of position and power, it dates from around 100BC. 

      

    St Magnus Cathedral, built in 1137, is In Orkney's capital town of Kirwall.  It is a magnificent memorial to the wealth and power of the Viking Earls and dedicated to St Magnus, treacherously murdered by his cousin Haakon.

     

    Birsay, a tidal island off the north west coast of mainland Orkney, was settled by the Vikings in the 9th centruy.  [Access to the island itself depends on the state of the tide.] Even if the tide is full there are views of cliffs and rock formations.

     

    Kirbuster Farm Museum has a very rare farmhouse with central hearth. parts of it date to the 16th century.  very atmospheric with a peat fire burning in the hearth.

     

    Corrigal Farm Museum tells a vivid story of farming life from late 18th century. Look out for the Spanish hens.

     

    Earl's Palace in Kirkwall was built in the 17th century by the notorious Scottish Orkney Earl Patrick Stewart.  Now a ruin, it is an extravagant testament to his ambitions. 

     

    Churchill Barriers bring Orkney's history right up to the present day.  They were built to defend Scapa Flow from attack in World War II. 

     

    Italian Chapel is poignantly beautiful and peaceful memorial.  Built by the Italian prisoners of war, who worked on the Churchill barriers, and cherished today by the people of Orkney.

     

    Tomb of the Eagles is a little further afield on the island of South Ronaldsay.  Here you can meet our neolithic ancestors in the visitor centre and take the mile walk out to the clifftop tomb with its spectacular sea views.

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    LANDSCAPE AND WILDLIFE

    The landscapes of Orkney change colour with the seasons. Lower ground is a patchwork of fields, green in spring, and golden at harvest.  Spring brings daffodils and primnoses turning the road sides yellow, and summer brings splashes scarlet  poppies. Rounded hills are a blanket of purple heather in August.

     

    Orkney has abundant wildlife, especially birds such as swans, geese, herons, oystercatchers, lapwings and larks. If the tide is right there will be seals basking on the shore.  If we are really lucky we might see a hen harrier or a short eared owl.  These endangered species are rare in the UK but are doing well in Orkney.

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    STORIES

    There are Orkney characters like the notorious Pirate Gow and the arctic explorer John Rae. The seas were full of mysterious creatures like the fearsome Finmen or the beautiful and seductive Selkies.  The land was inhabited by crafty Trows.  We can meet them all on our journey.

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    CRAFTS

    Orkney has a wide variety of craft workers.  We can visit the studio of the silversmith Sheila Fleet and watch how enamel is meticulously put the jewellery.

     

    The original Harray Potter can give demonstrations of his craft.  He has a wide range of contemporary pottery but also reproduction neolithic pots.

     

    Wool comes from the unique North Ronaldsay sheep, and yarn and garments can be bought in several shops.

      

    Award winning Orkney Beer is produced at Quoyloo Brewery - tours show how it is made and ofcourse  you can try some.  The cafe is also a good lunch stop.

     

    We must not forget Orkney Whisky.  Tours of Highland Park Distillery, the most northerly distillery in Scotland, can be booked. A visit  includes a 'peedie'  [Orkney dialect for 'small'] dram.

    Opening Times
    2014 Opening Times
    1 Jan 2014 - 31 Dec 2014

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    For public transport information to visit here from within Scotland, enter your postcode and visit date below.

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