Orkney Walking and Wildlife

6 Days & 5 Nights 4.6 Read 16 reviews
  • Listen to the cacophony of sea birds on the western cliffs
  • Step back in time and follow in the footsteps of Neolithic man at Skara Brae
  • Look out for seals, porpoise and orcas rolling in the deep turbulent waters
  • Marvel at the rugged rocky architecture of the spectacular Old Man of Hoy
  • Hike through a land rich in Viking history and Orcadian hospitality
Hike to ancient stone age sites and cross the turbulent waters between the islands of Hoy and Westray, home to orcas, seals and ship wrecks. Walk to the 140 m sea stack, the Old Man of Hoy, where the cliffs throng with seabirds. Trails lined with rare wild flowers lead you through a land of Neolithic architecture and Viking heritage. Combine walking and wildlife watching with a 5 night stay on the far flung isle of Orkney. Explore the ancient sites of Skara Brae, and Maes Howe and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Ring of Brodgar and the nearby Stenness standing stones at 6m tall. Although these man-made structures impress they are perhaps nothing compared to the towering 140 m sea stack of the Old Man of Hoy. Spend 3 nights in the harbour town of Stromness followed by 2 nights in Kirkwall from where you’ll enjoy a guided wildlife and history tour of the nearby Isle of Westray.
Read All

What To Expect

With an abundance of wildlife in an area soaked in history this walking holiday on Orkney makes for an adventure perfect for historians and nature-lovers alike. Enjoy three varied walks (with transfers where needed, GPX tracks and detailed route notes) and a guided tour of the Isle of Westray. The trip is graded as moderate but walks are optional to allow you more flexibility.

Tour Style:

Self Guided | Go at your own pace on an independent active trip.

Activity:

Multi Center Walking | You will spend multiple nights in one or more of the locations on this walking tour

This trip is suitable for:

Solo Travelers

Ideal if you have an interest in:

  • Wildlife
  • Historical Journeys
  • Coastal & Island

Inspiration:

  • Classic

Navigation

This route is largely not waymarked so you should be able to read a map and follow route descriptions closely. We supply detailed maps, route notes and GPS tracks via our Macs Adventure smartphone app so you shouldn’t have any problem finding your way. The trip is graded moderate with the exception of the Ring of Brodgar to Stenness walk which is an easy going route at only 7.5 km / 4.5 miles.

Experience & Fitness

As all the walks are self-guided you will be responsible for navigation, decision–making and safety during your trip. The walks are graded between easy to moderate—they are not strenuous and although there may be some uphill and steeper sections, these are not particularly challenging. This trip is graded Moderate. The routes follow footpaths, bridleways, coastal trails, cliff top walks, open fields and some minor roads. And may involve some relatively steep ascent and descents. The longest day is 23.5 km / 14.5 miles in length.

Accommodations

We use hand-picked 3-4* B&B's, guest houses and country hotels to ensure that you enjoy every minute of your stay. All offer a warm welcome to walkers, traditional hospitality and delicious local food. We recommend that you book this trip early as the area is always popular and the hotels and inns do fill up early, especially during the summer months high season. 

Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

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 may be able to provide a packed lunch on request, otherwise there are some small supermarkets/deli's where you can buy lunch and snacks for your walks. Dinner is available either at your accommodation or in the nearby pubs and restaurants in Stromness and Kirkwall. 

Additional Nights

Many of our guests choose to add extra nights and these can be added at the time of booking. 

Included
  • 5 Nights in hand-picked accommodation
  • 5 Breakfasts
  • Guided tour of the Isle of Westray
  • Baggage transfer and taxis (as per itinerary on days 3 and 4)
  • Information pack
  • Access to route notes, detailed maps, and GPS tracks in the Macs Adventure smartphone navigation app
  • 24/7 Emergency telephone support from our office
Excluded
  • Travel to / from Orkney
  • Lunches, dinners, drinks & snacks
  • Return ferries, paid locally, to Hoy (day 2) or Westray (day 5)
  • Entrance fees to specific sites and attractions
  • Personal equipment
  • Travel insurance (required)
Extras
  • Additional nights along the route

When To Go

This walking holiday is best enjoyed between early April and mid October. Orkney can be popular during the summer months, so we advise you book as far in advance as you can. Orkney has a cool temperate climate and being an island in the far north experiences changeable weather from sunshine to windy days and rain.

Getting to the Start

Getting to/from Orkney

Loganair operates direct flights to Kirkwall from Glasgow (1hr 15m), Edinburgh (1hr 15m), Aberdeen (50m), Inverness (45m), which all have good UK/International connections.

The Northlink ferry company operates services between Aberdeen and Kirkwall (6hrs) and between Scrabster and Stromness (1.5hrs).

Inter-Island Travel on Orkney

By Air:  Loganair operates regular services between the Orkney Islands.

By Ferry:  Northlink ferries operate services between the Islands though it is important to note days of operation.

By Bus: Bus services are operated by Stagecoach Orkney.

Luggage Transfer

Bag and taxi transfers are included on this trip on days 3 and 4 as per your itinerary. You won't need to carry more than a day bag on your walks. We ask you to limit your luggae to one bag of up to 20 kg per person.

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 trousers), sunglasses, and sun screen. 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.

Westray Guided Tour - Availability

We recommend you don't begin your holiday on a Wednesday or Friday as this will coincide with the Westray guided tour falling on a Sunday and a Tuesday respectively (unfortunately these dates aren't possible because of a limited ferry timetable). Please speak to our Destination & Adventure specialists if you have any questions about this.

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.

How fit do I need to be?
How far in advance do I need to book?
What personal equipment do I need?
When is the best time of year?
Am I able to take my dog?
What happens if I can’t walk a stage?

Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive Stromness on Orkney Day 2 Walking on the Isle of Hoy 14.5 miles / 23.5 km Day 3 Walk from Skara Brae to Stromness 12 miles / 19 km Day 4 Walk from the Ring of Brodgar to Stenness and transfer to Kirkwall 4.5 miles / 7.5 km Day 5 Guided Tour of the Island of Westray Day 6 Onward Travel

The Macs Way

  • Custom-made Adventures Custom-made Adventures
  • Freedom Freedom
  • Book with Confidence Book with Confidence
  • Expertise Expertise
  • Positive Impact Positive Impact
Build your perfect adventure your way
  • Flexible itineraries built around you
  • Knowledgeable and helpful specialist trip planners
  • Customize your trip to suit your interests
  • Start on any date that suits you
  • Choose your ideal trip length and difficulty
  • Range of accommodation comfort levels
  • Choice of trip styles
Authentic adventure travel experiences on your own terms
  • Choose your own travel companions
  • Walk, cycle and explore at your own pace
  • Make your own decisions
  • Choose your own path
  • Indulge your passions
Feel secure in making the right choice for your precious adventure time
  • 14,000+ unbiased trip & service reviews
  • Feefo Gold Award 2019
  • 25,000+ travelers trust us each year
  • As featured in the Guardian, Times, Nat Geo Traveler
  • Founder owned & operated since 2003
  • 100+ passionate team members across the US, UK & Europe
You can be confident that every detail of your journey has been expertly planned
  • Carefully planned adventures
  • Quality, hand-picked accommodations
  • Seamless and reliable arrangements
  • Comprehensive trip information & insider tips
  • Detailed maps, route notes and mobile GPS app
  • Helpful 24/7 support should you need it
Travel the right way and make a positive impact
  • Travel responsibly
  • Explore off the beaten track
  • Support locally owned businesses
  • Engage with local communities
  • Minimize your impact
  • Maximize the benefit of your travel
  • Challenge yourself & grow