Shetland and Orkney: The Northern Isles

31 Aug - 8 Sep 2022
  • Cultural Tours

About the tour

Travel to the northernmost reaches of the UK through spectacular landscapes. Discover history that encompasses Neolithic times, the Bronze and Iron Ages, the Picts and the Vikings, and continues into the modern day. This tour takes you to the farthest Scottish Isles, dramatically beautiful and rich in history and culture, to experience both Shetland and Orkney in just over a week.

The tour gives a superb overview of these far-flung island neighbours, which share connections and history but retain distinctive characters. Proceed at a relaxed pace to discover history, geography, geology and culture and enjoy the unique wildlife of the area, from puffins to Shetland ponies. This tour is a wonderful opportunity to unite the magnificent islands of Shetland and Orkney, with the option to fly or travel by ferry between the two, passing Fair Isle on the way.

There are direct and indirect flights on Logan Air to Sumburgh in Shetland and from Kirkwall in Orkney from regional airports across the UK.

Your tour leader

Picture of JBT tour leader, Janice Liverseidge

Janice Liverseidge

Janice Liverseidge was previously Director of Membership at The Royal Society of Medicine and is now a full time guide and in her spare time a trustee of both the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund and the London Handel Festival. Earlier in her career she worked for the British Medical Association. She is also a registered Blue Badge tourist guide and regularly leads groups in London on medical history walks, tours of the Wellcome Collection and other healthcare locations plus provides music and art tours for the Foundling Museum and the London Handel Festival. Janice has travelled extensively, including an eight month journey around India, South East Asia and Australia, and has led highly successful RSM tours to Vietnam and Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Cuba, South Africa and China.

Janice has the Visit Britain "Good to Go" Industry standard demonstrating that she has shown her compliance with government and industry COVID-19 guidelines, has a Risk Assessment in place and ensures social distancing including using a phone app when providing tour commentaries.

Need more information?

  • Tel: (Toll Free) 1-8777-398-764
  • Mon-Fri: 9am-5pm
Contact us

Itinerary at a glance

  • Day 1: Shetland (Wed, 31 Aug) Arrive Sumburgh and transfer to the Sumburgh Hotel, a former Laird’s house. There will be the opportunity (depending on arrival time) to walk and explore the dramatic local scenery. Welcome dinner at the hotel.
  • Day 2: Shetland (Thurs, 1 Sept) Walk the short distance from the hotel to Jarlshof, one of Europe’s most important archaeological sites with a history encompassing the Bronze and Iron ages, Picts’ settlements, the Vikings and through to the medieval period.Drive to Sumburgh Head Lighthouse, located high on the cliffs, and an RSPB nature reserve. The Lighthouse was built by the Stevenson family in 1821 and has been in operation for 200 years. There are stunning views from here. Visit the Sumburgh Head Visitor Centre and learn of the history of the Lighthouse, Shetland’s maritime history, the WW2 Radar Hut and local wildlife. Drive to the visitor centre and café at Hoswick in Sandwick. Visit Rerwick Beach to spot seals and onto St Ninian’s Isle to before returning to the hotel.
  • Day 3: Shetland (Fri, 2 Sept) Drive to Lerwick, the capital of Shetland and the only town on the archipelago. Visit the Shetland Museum and Archives for an overview followed by time to explore. The museum has a superb collection of exhibits located over two floors. There is also the boat shed and hall, demonstrating a traditional style of boat building that has gone on over the years located at the scenic Hay’s Dock of Lerwick. Visit the well preserved Clickkimin Broch, incorporating a late Bronze Age / early Iron Age farmstead and Iron Age fort. Explore Lerwick on a guided tour including Victoria Pier and depart through the Tingwall Valley. Hear of the Norse heritage of Tingwall and see Shetland ponies. Continue to Scalloway, the former capital of Shetland and learn of its integral part in the Shetland Bus operation, an undercover operation that took place in World War Two. The Shetland Bus memorial is located on the main street of Scalloway. The ruins of Scalloway Castle, built by Earl Patrick Stewart, is located next door to the Scalloway Museum. The museum has information on the history of the regions encompassing Neolithic settlers, Vikings Scots and up to WW2. Dinner in Lerwick and return to the Sumburgh Hotel.
  • Day 4: Shetland (Sat, 3 Sept) An early start to travel up to the north-west corner of Shetland and visit the Tangwick Haa. This small museum is located inside an old Haa (hall) which was the home of the Laird. The hall also contains information on Shetland’s unique and complex geology. Continue to the stunning vista of the Eshaness cliffs. Travel St Magnus Bay Hotel in Hillswick for lunch before continuing the tour back towards Sumburgh stop en route at St Ninian’s Isle to spot seals on Rerwick Beach on the return journey.
  • Day 5: Shetland / Orkney (Sun, 4 Sept) At leisure with a late morning transfer to Sumburgh Airport. Fly to Kirkwall Orkney, an archipelago comprising approximately 70 islands with a rich Norse heritage. Arrive in Kirkwall and transfer to the Ayre Hotel. The afternoon is at leisure to explore Kirkwall. (For those who prefer sea crossing there is a 17.30 sailing from Lerwick sailing past Fair Isle and arriving in Kirkwall at 23:00 on NorthLink Ferries. Please contact us for more information).
  • Day 6: Orkney (Mon, 5 Sept) Visit the famous Italian Chapel, a beautiful building constructed by Italian POWs in WWII, who were brought to Orkney in 1942 to build a giant causeway - today known as the Churchill Barriers - to seal off access to the vast naval base at Scapa Flow. Visit the CWGC St Olaf Cemetery. Visit the Burray Fossil and Heritage Centre. Visit St Magnus Cathedral Continue to the Earls Palace and the Orkney Museum paintings by Orcadian artist Stanley Cursiter, who was the Queen's Painter and Limner (official artist in Scotland). Option to visit the quirky Orkney Wireless Museum.
  • Day 7: Orkney (Tues, 6 Sept) Orkney’s human history stretches back 10,000 years to its Neolithic origins, which are evident in a breathtaking landscape of ceremonial stone circles, tombs, prehistoric villages and many other ancient monuments. Explore this extraordinary heritage with a visit to Skara Brae, Skaill House, the Ring of Brodgar and Maeshowe. After lunch at the Standing Stones Hotel visit the Standing Stones of Stenness return to Kirkwall.
  • Day 8: Orkney (Wed, 7 Sept) Spend the morning in Stromness, visiting the Stromness Museum which puts the history of Orkney into context with the wider world. Visit the Pier Arts Centre with work by Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson. The building was originally the home of Edward Clouston, the Hudson's Bay Company agent, and the gallery extension won an architectural prize for best building in Scotland in 2007.
  • Pm Visit Orkney Brewery for lunch (at client’s expense). Visit the HMS Tern one of four WW2 airfields with Andy Hollinrake, the local specialist guide. Return to Kirkwall along the shore of Scapa Flow. Farewell dinner.
  • Day 9: Orkney (Thurs, 8 Sept) Depart Orkney.

Tour cost

The cost of the tour is £2,675 per person sharing

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