Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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Ring of Brodgar Stone Circle on Orkney Walking & Wildlife Tour
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Highlights

  • The cacophony of puffins and razorbills on the high western cliffs.
  • Stepping back in time in the footsteps of Neolithic man at Skara Brae.
  • The roll of seals, porpoise and orcas in the deep turbulent waters.
  • The rugged rocky architecture of the spectacular Old Man of Hoy.
  • Hiking through a land rich in Viking history and Orcadian hospitality.

Hike to ancient stone age sites and cross the turbulent waters between islands, home to orcas, seals and ship wrecks. Walk to the spectacular rock stack, the Old Man of Hoy where cliffs throng with breeding seabirds. Trails lined with rare wild flowers lead you through a land of ancient brochs and Viking heritage.

With 4 walking days and 5 nights, this self guided walking holiday provides the perfect combination of walking and wildlife viewing. The trip starts with an overnight stay in the sheltered old stone harbour town of Stromness. Form here the ferry takes you to the Island of Hoy, where the Old Man of Hoy resides. A days walk to this 140m high stack allows you to experience the cacophony of a ‘seabird city’. Your base in Stromness is perfect for a coastal walk to 5000 year old Skara Brae, the most important Stone Age village in Northern Europe. The following day takes you inland to the Ring of Brodgar, the largest stone circle in Scotland.

Following a night in the 11th century Viking capital of Kirkwall, the ferry will take you through the wildlife rich waters to the Island of Westray where you will be taken on a guided tour to discover the many natural and historical delights. With a final night in Kirkwall you will have the opportunity to explore the inherent old Norse heritage or drop into the ‘Highland Park Distillery’ for a ‘wee dram’ before you depart.

The Orkney Walking and Wildlife trip features hand-picked overnight accommodation in high quality B&B’s, and hotels. We also include a door to door baggage transfer between Stromness and Kirkwall, guidebook with detailed maps and pre-departure information pack as well as emergency support, should you need it.

Day 1: Arrival in Orkney

Upon arrival in Orkney you will make your way to Stromness for your first nights accommodation. The town is a traditional stone built port that nestles beneath the granite ridge of Brinkie’s Brae and is sheltered by the islands of Outer and Inner Holm. Built up on a history of whaling and trading it is a labyrinth of steep winding paths and well worth exploring. Stromness Museum has an excellent Victorian natural history gallery and should not be missed.


Overnight: Stromness


Day 2: Walking on the Isle of Hoy - The Old Man of Hoy - 14.5 miles

Following the short ferry crossing the walk crosses heather moorland, home to birds such as red grouse, hen harrier and short eared owl. The trail also passes the most northerly native wood in Britain. The ’Old Man of Hoy’ is an awesome delight, and the surrounding cliffs are filled with nesting seabirds including puffins, guillemots, and kittiwakes.


Overnight: Stromness


Day 3: Walk from Skara Brae to Stromness - 16.3 miles

A morning transfer to takes you the best preserved Neolithic site on Northern Europe, Skara Brae . Having risen from sand dunes in 1850 the preservation of the village is incredible and you may still see stone furniture. Following exploration the walk takes you around wild coastline passing magnificent sea stacks. You may find the rare Scottish primrose though more obvious wildlife takes the form of seals hauled out onto the rocks. If the distance involved is too long you may stop walking at Yesnaby 3 miles south of Skara Brae and retrace your steps back to Skara Brae. You will be able to book a taxi to take you back to Stromness.


Overnight: Stromness


Day 4: Walk from Stenness to the Ring of Brodgar - 6.2 miles

A morning transfer takes to the village of Stenness, your starting point for a walk to the Ring of Brogdar, the largest stone circle in Britain. At the start of the walk you will see the huge 5000 year old Stenness Standing Stones before walking out along the causeway between Loch of Harry and Loch of Stenness. The Ring of Brodgar is beautifully situated between the lochs and at more than 100m across is an impressive site to behold. The walk returns by the same route allowing you to enjoy the many water birds that visit. A transfer from Stenness will take you to Kirkwall, the capital of Orkney


Overnight: Kirkwall


Day 5: Guided Tour of the Island of Westray

An early start is the order of the day with a morning ferry from Kirkwall to the Island of Westray. On the crossing you may well be rewarded with sightings of porpoise and seals along with the ubiquitous fishing gulls and terns. Upon arrival you will collected for a guided tour of the island taking in the history and heritage. Noup head is a real highlight with its huge seabird colonies that include auks, fulmar, shag and skuas. The ferry returns you to Kirkwall for your final night on Orkney.


The tour is operated by local resident experts who will take you around the island to experience the sights, sounds and solitude of this 'Queen of the Orkney Isles'


Overnight: Kirkwall


Day 6: Onward Travel

After breakfast the trip is complete though should you have the time it is recommended that you explore the delights of this delightful port with it’s rich Viking history.

Accommodation

One of the highlights of this walking holiday is the high standard of the accommodation. We use hand-picked 3 and 4 star properties to ensure that you enjoy every minute of your stay. All offer a warm welcome to walkers, traditional hospitality and delicious local food. We do recommend that you book this trip early as the area is always popular and the hotels and inns do fill up early, especially in high season. You will find descriptions, photos and weblinks to a selection of the accommodation below.


Single Rooms

This independent walking holiday is available to solo walkers but as all our holidays are priced per person based on two sharing there is a single supplement payable to cover the additional costs we incur. If you require single rooms within your party we will of course try to accommodate your request subject to availability.


Meals

Breakfast is included each morning while lunch and dinner are not included so you are free to choose from the available options. Your accommodation will be more than happy to provide a packed lunch on request and this can be booked on arrival, alternatively your guidebook also includes details of local shops and convenient lunch stops on the way. Dinner is available either at your accommodation or nearby pubs and restaurants and your info pack will of course have recommendations.


Additional Nights

Many of our clients choose to add extra nights and these can be added at the time of booking. Kirkwall is a great place to have an extra night at the end of your walk.



 

 

 




Stromness Hotel - Stromness

The Stromness Hotel is in the very heart of Stromness. Established in 1901 this historic hotel offers very comfortable accommodation and they stock over 100 malt whiskies!


 

 

 


 

 

 




Hildeval B&B - Kirkwall

This new and well reviewed traditional B&B affords stunning views of Kirkwall Bay and Orkney's North Isles. They owners will look after you well and make sure you have a comfortable and relaxing stay.


 

 

 

Availability

Unfortunately this trip is not available between the 4th and 25th September. The guided tour of Westray is not available during this period and we feel it would be a shame to travel all the way here and miss this outstanding part of the trip.


Time of year

We offer this trip between the April and October. In our opinion there is no bad time for walking on Orkney but would especially recommend the spring and autumn.


Solo Walkers & Single Rooms

This holiday is available to solo travellers, although a single supplement is payable. If you require single rooms within your party we would be happy to accommodate your request, although it is not generally possible to secure more than three single rooms in a party. A single supplement is payable.


Navigation, Route Notes & Maps

Most of the route and walks are not way marked so you should be able to read a map and follow route descriptions closely. We supply a guidebook with detailed maps so you shouldn’t have any problem finding your way


Grade & Terrain

This trip is graded Moderate. The trails follows footpaths, bridleways, coastal trails, cliff top walks, open fields and some minor roads. The walks may involve some relatively steep ascent and descents and days of up to 17 miles walking. 


Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.


General Information

The distances and ascent/ descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack.

Getting to and from Orkney

By Air:  


The Airline Loganair  and it’s partner Flybe operate direct flights to Kirkwall from the UK airports of Glasgow (1hr 15m), Edinburgh (1hr 15m), Aberdeen (50m), Inverness (45m) . There are excellent services from many UK and International airports to Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.


By Ferry:  


The Northlink ferry company operates services between Aberdeen and Kirkwall (6hrs)and between Scrabster and Stromness (1.5hrs). The Pentland ferry company operates a service between Gill’s Bay in Caithness to St Margaret’s Hope on South Ronaldsay (1hr).


Travel to and from Departure points

By Road:  


Glasgow and Edinburgh are served by an excellent motorway network. Long term parking is generally available in the city centres/airports. From both cities there are a good road connections to all ferry ports. For directions and journey planner visit the Multimap weblink.


By Rail:  


Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen are served by several operators from throughout Britain. It is important to book as far in advance as possible to get the best fares. For information on all routes contact National Rail Enquiries .


By Coach:  


Services from UK destinations are operated by National Express .


Services from Scottish destinations are operated by Scottish Citylink .


In order to plan all journeys correctly via public transport we suggest that you utilise the Traveline Scotland website.


Inter Island Travel

By Air:  


The Airline Loganair operates regular services between the Orkney Islands.


By Ferry:  


Orkney Ferries operates services between the Islands though it is important to note days of operation.


Public Transport on Orkney

Bus services are operated by Stagecoach Orkney .

Included

  • Hand-picked accommodation in B&B’s and small Hotels, in en-suite rooms wherever possible
  • Door to door baggage transfer between Stromness and Kirkwall as per itinerary.
  • Taxi Transfers as detailed in your itinerary.
  • Guided tour of Westray where local resident experts will take you to experience the history, culture and wildlife of this beautiful island.
  • A detailed information pack for the group leader including guidebook, local information, detailed travel information and a recommended kit list.
  • Transfers as per itinerary: Day 3: Stromness to Skara Brae/Day 4: Stromness to Stenness/Day 4: Stenness to Kirkwall.
  • Emergency support from our offices should it be required.

Excluded

  • Travel to the start or from the finish of the trip.
  • Lunches, dinners, snacks or drinks.
  • Travel Insurance.
  • Personal Equipment.
  • All ferry and air travel.
  • Entrance fees to specific sites and attractions.
  • Taxi transfers (apart from transfers as above) or public transport should you need to skip a stage.

Extras

  • Single room supplement.
  • Accommodation upgrades.
  • Additional nights pre and post tour.

Planning a trip on the Orkney Walking and Wildlife tour can be daunting, especially if this is your first long distance walking holiday. We are often asked the following questions and I hope that you will find the answers useful.

How fit do I need to be?

The Orkney Walking and Wildlife itinerary is classed as moderate walking so if you are a regular walker or lead and active lifestyle you'll enjoy the walk. If you currently don’t enjoy an active lifestyle we suggest regular walking in hilly terrain supplemented by cardio vascular exercise for at least 6 months prior to your walk. A good gym or personal trainer will be able to draw up a personalised training programme.

How far in advance do I need to book?

We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as the Orkney Walking and Wildlife trip is very popular especially over April/May and July/August. You will find up to date availability on our website and we will always try and accommodate your plans.

What personal equipment do I need?

You will need good walking shoes/boots (ideally waterproof), comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, a daypack and hats/gloves etc. Do not forget binoculars! You can download a full equipment list from the downloads page of our website.

When is the best time of year?

Traditionally April/May has always been the most popular time of year because the theory goes that the weather is better. Although I believe any time between April and October offers a wonderful experience. Be aware that certain distilleries may be closed at weekends especially early or late in the season. We suggest that for any specific distillery visits you research beforehand to avoid disappointment.

Which direction should I walk?

We recommend you walk the routes in the way we have described them.The guidebooks are written in this direction and this is also our personal preference.

Am I able to take my dog?

Unfortunately we are unable to accommodate walkers with dogs as many of the accommodation providers we use do not accept pets.

What happens if I can’t walk a stage?

You can use public transport or local taxis to continue to your next overnight stop.

REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
macs adventureOrkney Walking and Wildlife
 
4.6

(based on 13 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (9)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (3)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (0)

91%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Fun (9)
  • Well organised (8)
  • Once in a lifetime experience (7)
  • Great accommodations (6)

Cons

No Cons

Best Uses

  • Holiday (10)
  • Trying something new (5)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • World traveller (6), Avid adventurer (3)

Reviewed by 13 customers

Displaying reviews 1-10

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5.0

Awesome adventure

By Clif the adventurer

from Yukon, Canada

About Me World Traveller

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Fun
  • Great Accommodations
  • Once in a Lifetime Experience
  • Well Organised

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Holiday
    • Thrill Seeking
    • Trying Something New

    Comments about macs adventure Orkney Walking and Wildlife:

    First time to do a walking tour. I will definitely do it again.

     
    5.0

    Westray tour is a real highlight.

    By Wayne

    from Abergavenny

    Verified Buyer

    Comments about macs adventure Orkney Walking and Wildlife:

    The Westray tour was a real highlight of the trip - excellent.

     
    4.0

    Great way to see Orkney

    By Grant

    from Washington, DC

    Verified Reviewer

    Pros

    • Once in a Lifetime Experience

    Cons

      Best Uses

        Comments about macs adventure Orkney Walking and Wildlife:

        My wife and I went took this tour in early April and loved it. We wound up not doing the Hoy walk due to rough weather. The West Coast Trail walk can be ambitious if you want to take time to see Skara Brae (which I'd recommend) or weather turns rough. Orkney often has heavy winds that should be considered when judging the walks. We particularly loved the day near Stenness and worked a visit to Maeshowe in. We would have enjoyed more time on Westray (ferry schedules allow later returns in high summer but not spring).

        The hotels and transfers arranged by Macs were straightforward and it was easy to work with Macs and the providers to adjust anything that was needed. Macs' itinerary and arrangements made possible a very special trip that we would not have had time to research and organize for ourselves. We would do this or another walking tour with them again.

        (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

         
        5.0

        This was a great trip and ver well organized.

        By Amanda

        from Virginia

        About Me Avid Adventurer

        Verified Reviewer

        Pros

        • Fun
        • Great Accommodations
        • Once in a Lifetime Experience
        • Well Organised

        Cons

        • Need more info on when birds are in

        Best Uses

        • Holiday
        • Trying Something New

        Comments about macs adventure Orkney Walking and Wildlife:

        Include information on what birds are generally out when. I would have liked more walking on Westray. Travellers should be warned to check on scheduled of cruises landing in Kirkwall and Stromness.

        (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

         
        3.0

        Awesome archaeology

        By Long time walkers

        from London

        About Me Avid Adventurer, World Traveller

        Verified Reviewer

        Pros

        • Archeology
        • Nature

        Cons

        • Lack of information
        • Wet underfoot

        Best Uses

        • Holiday

        Comments about macs adventure Orkney Walking and Wildlife:

        Lets get the negatives out the way...

        Some poor information supplied such as details of the Hoy Hopper bus service (it hasn't run in 5 years according to locals) or where the ferry terminal was in relationship to the first accommodation. You could pretty easily put this tour together yourself - having used Macs three or four times I was left wondering why I was paying for this one. WiFi was patchy. It was wet underfoot and I'd definitely recommend taking waterproof boots or wellies to others.

        Positives included some good days out - brilliant archeological sites with a mix of walking and some nature around the coast too. You pretty much get to see what you want of Orkney mainland. The Westray tour was excellent. Great organised taxi service.

        (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

         
        5.0

        Magical Orkney!

        By Vicky

        from Duxbury MA USA

        About Me World Traveller

        Pros

        • Fun
        • Great Accommodations
        • Once in a Lifetime Experience
        • Well Organised

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • Holiday
          • Trying Something New

          Comments about macs adventure Orkney Walking and Wildlife:

          It's easy to travel solo with Macs in beautiful Orkney!

           
          5.0

          A wonderful holiday

          By Andy F

          from Brussels

          About Me World Traveller

          Verified Reviewer

          Pros

          • Fun
          • Well Organised

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • Holiday

            Comments about macs adventure Orkney Walking and Wildlife:

            We had a wonderful five days on the Orkney Isles. This is billed as a walking holiday, but in fact it's somewhat different. The first two days were indeed long lovely walks - about 20 km each (though you could do less on the first day if you wanted). But day 3 was less - about 7km but it included a lot of historical sites (standing stones and an archaeological dig) together with time to explore Kirkwall ... and day 4 was a guided tour of Westray - we were a bit unsure about this as we came to walk, but in fact it was the best day of the holiday - it was brilliant!!! So for me, this holiday is ideal if you want a mix of long walks and interesting visits, and if you want to leave with a real feeling that you've really "done" the Orkney Isles in a relatively short period of time. Thanks to Mac Adventures for a wonderful trip.

            (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

             
            5.0

            A wonderful trip.

            By The Canadians

            from Vancouver

            About Me Avid Adventurer

            Pros

            • Fun
            • Great Accommodations
            • Once in a Lifetime Experience
            • Well Organised

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • Holiday

              Comments about macs adventure Orkney Walking and Wildlife:

              The trip was wonderful, very well organized and easy to understand. The one tour day to Westray was amazing, not only in terms of location but with the addition of a local guide. Graham shared his great love the island with us and provided a comprehensive and flexible itineray. The Orkey's are a unique place and should be on everyone's bucket list.

              (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

               
              5.0

              Spectacular!!!

              By Les P.

              from Elgin

              About Me 60 And Not Counting, Occasional Traveller

              Verified Reviewer

              Pros

              • Fresh Seafood
              • Fun
              • Great Accommodations
              • Long Hours Of Daylightsu
              • Once in a Lifetime Experience
              • Well Organised

              Cons

                Best Uses

                • Holiday
                • Meeting new people
                • Thrill Seeking

                Comments about macs adventure Orkney Walking and Wildlife:

                Travelled to Orkney with a friend. The accommodation was of a high standard in Stromness; fresh seafood was easily available and sooo tasty; the sun shone until almost 10pm. What a great start to our holiday.
                The information provided by Mac's was perfect.. accurate and practical. We walked from Rackwick to the Old Man of Hoy in gorgeous sunshine on our first day and from Skara Brae back to Stromness along the coast on day 2: the scenery was stunning!!
                Our favourite day was the organised tour of Westray by Graham of Westraak Tours. Included were refreshments and a lovely 3 course lunch. We were driven all over to the best sites for birds, flowers, archeological digs, castle, museum, light aeroplane spotting, and Graham's in-depth knowledge of the people, their lives and changing society gave us an insight into island life.
                I had reason to appreciate his first-aid skills also, as I fell and skinned my shin (healing nicely now, with antibiotics).
                This was a fabulous outdoors holiday, with a mix of weather, photographic opportunities, and sheer enjoyment. I am pleased to highly recommend this trip (just remember the first aid kit)!
                One useful tip is to join Historic Scotland: it gave us free entry into Skara Brae, Skaill House, and Maeshowe. In addition, we were pleased to be supporting the teams of archaeologists employed at the digs by Historic Scotland.

                (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                 
                4.0

                The right trip at the right time

                By Joanna

                from Virginia, USA

                About Me World Traveller

                Pros

                • Fun
                • Well Organised

                Cons

                  Best Uses

                  • Holiday
                  • Trying Something New

                  Comments about macs adventure Orkney Walking and Wildlife:

                  This trip was just right for a first time hiking vacation. It was the perfect combination of outdoor activity, prehistoric archaeology, and wildlife. The day tour of Westray was a great ending. The tour guide was excellent and gave a wonderful perspective on the historical past as well as the current and future needs of the island.

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