Kirkwall, Orkney Islands

Introduction to Kirkwall, Orkney Islands

Ancient echoes of Christian, Nordic and Celtic history resonate here in the capital of the Orkney Islands.

Kirkwall feels more Scandinavian than Scottish: in fact the name comes from the Norse for “Church Bay”. The church in question is the 11th century Church of Saint Olaf of Norway. St Magnus Cathedral in the town was founded in memory of Saint Magnus Erlendsson by the Norseman Earl (later Saint) Rögnvald Kali.

The Cathedral has been restored over recent years and the work is still continuing. It’s well worth visiting, as are the nearby ruins of the former Bishop’s Palace, dating from the middle of the 12th century, and Earl’s Palace, said to have been the finest Renaissance building in Scotland. Kirkwall has two excellent museums as well: Tankerness House, a beautifully preserved 16th century town-house, has historic collections of major importance; while the Orkney Wireless Museum has comprehensive displays about the history of radio.

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Skara Brae, Orkney

SKARA BRAE & SKAILL HOUSE

Must do tour
  • Explore the beautiful West Mainland
  • Discover the best preserved Neolithic village in Northern Europe
  • Enjoy a unique insight into how our ancient ancestors lived
Activity Tour
Price£40.00 - £50.00
DurationApproximately 4 hours
LimitationLimited capacity
Walking level 3 - extensive walkingExtensive walking

On this scenic circular tour, explore the beautiful West Mainland, location of one of the greatest concentrations of pre-historic, World Heritage sites in Great Britain.

Passing through an area of rolling hills and moorland, discover the ceremonial stone circles of Stenness and Brodgar. A short photo stop is made at the Standing Stones of Stenness, one of the oldest stone circles in Britain, followed by a visit to the Ring of Brodgar, a perfect circle with almost half of its original 60 stones still standing.

Continuing, arrive at Skara Brae which is Orkney’s most exciting monument – a 5,000 year old Neolithic village, wonderfully preserved and interpreted in the modern visitors’ centre. Lying beside the Bay of Skaill, this Stone Age settlement lay buried under sand for thousands of years, until it was revealed during a fierce storm in 1850. The hardship of life in Skara Brae can be directly contrasted with Orkney’s finest manor house, Skaill House, which is located nearby and constitutes the next stop on your journey through ancient Orkney. Return to Kirkwall via the historic harbour of Scapa Flow, and enjoy stories of dramatic wartime experiences, which make this one of the most renowned stretches of water in the world.

DESCRIPTION CORRECT FOR 2016 CRUISES

Is this tour right for you?

IS THIS TOUR RIGHT FOR YOU? This tour is not recommended for guests with limited mobility. In order to preserve Skara Brae we admire the houses from the outer walls above. The Skara Brae visitors’ centre is suitable for wheelchairs, with a ramped entry; just over half the site is accessible. The ground floor of Skaill House is wheelchair accessible. You will walk between Skara Brae and Skaill House, over uneven and gravel terrain. Sights may be visited in a different order to that described.


Musicians in Kirkwall, Scotland

AN ORCADIAN EXPEREINCE

  • Discover more about the people and life on the remote Orkney Islands
  • Learn more about the success of Orkney’s award-winning food and drink
Activity Tour
Price£100.00-£110.00
DurationApproximately 4 Hours
Walking level 1 - minimal or no walkingMinimal or no walking
Snack includedSnack included

Learn more about life in the remote islands of Orkney, with a special performance of local traditions and a delightful supper showcasing Orkney’s top quality, fresh, local food.

Arriving at one of the community halls dotted around the island, you will be seated on communal tables to delight in a buffet style supper, which will include local produce such as shellfish and Orkney beef.  Between courses there will be entertainment from a local story teller who will delight guests with traditional tales of Orkney folklore. After dessert, the tables will be cleared and ready for the dancing to begin. With the help of a traditional dance caller, you will learn some traditional Orkney dances and the afternoon will end with a mini ceilidh, when you will have an opportunity to try out your new dance skills with the help of a local band. There will also be the opportunity to try a traditional Orkney Cog – a unique wooden drinking vessel filled with a warm spiced brew mix.

TOUR DESCRIPTION IS CORRECT FOR 2017 CRUISES

Is this tour right for you?

IS THIS TOUR RIGHT FOR YOU? Walking on this tour is minimal so it is suitable for most guests, however we do encourage you to join in with the dancing. Wheelchair users may need assistance and all participants must be able to board the coach unaided. Should you have any food allergies, please notify us at the time of booking. Please note that drinks are available at your own expense. The performance will be exclusive to Fred. Olsen guests. 

 


Orkadian food

AUTHENTIC ORKNEY – A TASTE OF THE ISLES

  • Embark on a culinary and cultural journey across the Orkney Isles
  • Learn more about the success of Orkney’s award-winning food and drink
  • Savour a taste, accompanied by some traditional music
Activity Tour
Price£40.00 - £60.00
DurationApproximately 2.5 hours
Walking level 1 - minimal or no walkingMinimal or no walking
Refreshments includedRefreshments included

Join your host at a local restaurant to sample some of Orkney’s top quality, fresh, local food and drink, whilst listening to live Orcadian music.

Travel to Kirkwall town centre where, upon arrival, your host will invite you to a private dining hall where you can savour some of Orkney’s finest cuisine. Orkney’s pure air, clean seas and fertile land have produced top quality food for centuries and the islands have become world famous for their award-winning beef, shellfish and locally grown vegetables. The local produce has a national reputation for excellence and Orcadians have a long tradition of using this treasure trove of ingredients to produce some of the finest food products found anywhere in the world.

Enjoy sampling delights locally sourced here on the island. Of course, the experience would not be complete without tasting Orkney’s very own local ales and single malt whiskies, whilst listening to some traditional Orcadian music. Throughout the experience, your host will entertain you with captivating stories which gives you an interesting insight into whom and what is behind the success of Orkney’s award-winning food and drink.

TOUR DESCRIPTION IS CORRECT FOR 2016 CRUISES

Is this tour right for you?

IS THIS TOUR RIGHT FOR YOU? Walking on this tour is minimal so it is suitable for most guests - wheelchair users may need assistance and all participants must be able to board the coach unaided. Should you have any food allergies, please specify at the time of booking this tour.

 


Balfour Castle, Kirkwall

BEAUTIFUL ROUSAY & TRUMLAND’S VICTORIAN GARDENS

  • Take the chance to visit one of Orkney’s smaller islands – beautiful Rousay 
  • Explore the beautiful Victorian Gardens of the Trumland Estate
Price£52.00 - £62.00
DurationApproximately 6.45 hours
Walking level 2 - moderate walkingModerate walking
Snack includedSnack included
Free time includedFree time included

This fascinating tour affords you the opportunity to discover the delights of the Trumland Estate's Victorian Gardens as well as the rich history, archaeology, and wildlife of one of Orkney’s smaller and most captivating islands.

Travel through Orkney’s scenic countryside to the ferry pier at Tingwall, where you embark on a short sailing across Eynhallow Sound to the Island of Rousay. Upon arrival you will visit the lovely Trumland Estate Victorian Gardens. Enjoy time to stroll through the walled flower gardens, woodland and water gardens, and terraced lawns. Overlooking the gardens is the grand Trumland House; a large Jacobean-style Victorian mansion designed by renowned 19th century architect, David Bryce, and built in 1875. In recent history, the house fell into disrepair and in April 1985, it was destroyed by fire. Thanks to the Gregg family, who purchased the estate in 2002 and initiated an extensive restoration project, the house and gardens are painstakingly being restored to their former splendour. 

Re-join your coach for a panoramic drive around this beautiful island, stopping for photos of the spectacular panoramas across the Atlantic to Orkney’s North Isles. Continue with more photo stops at Saviskaill Bay seal colony and at Mid Howe viewpoint overlooking the Iron Age Mid Howe Broch on the shore below. From an elevated vantage point, you also enjoy wonderful vistas across the Sound to the Orkney Mainland, as well as views of the spectacular tidal roosts on either side of the mysterious Isle of Eynhallow, where the North Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. Finally, embark on the ferry sailing back to the Orkney Mainland, to bring an end to your picture perfect tour.

TOUR DESCRIPTION IS CORRECT FOR 2016 CRUISES

Is this tour right for you?

IS THIS TOUR RIGHT FOR YOU? Walking at Trumland includes inclines, steps and gravel and grass paths - therefore this tour is not suitable for wheelchair users. You will be at Trumland for approximately two hours and your time here will be at leisure. Please note that Trumland House is currently undergoing renovation and is not open to the public. You may remain on the coach during the ferry crossings. Sightings of wildlife cannot be guaranteed. Due to the duration of the tour, and the fact that there is nowhere to purchase refreshments at Trumland, a packed lunch will be included.

 


FX distillery and churches, Kirkwall, SCotland

DISTILLERY & SOUTH ISLES

  • Enjoy a unique visit to the Highland Park Distillery
  • Admire the beautifully hand painted Italian Chapel
  • Spend time at leisure in the pretty town of Kirkwall
Price£50.00-£60.00
DurationApproximately 3.5 Hours
Walking level 2 - moderate walkingModerate walking
Free time includedFree time included

This tour combines the old and new of Orkney, as well a chance to sample a local dram from the northern-most whisky distillery in Scotland.

Following the coastal road of the Naval Base of Scapa Flow, you will learn of dramatic wartime stories that make this one of the most famous stretches of water in the world. Travel along the first Churchill Barrier, a causeway that links the Orkney Mainland to the island of Lamb Holm, where you will visit the beautiful hand painted Italian chapel, built by Italian prisoners during the last World War.

Your tour continues to the unique Highland Park Distillery, which is regarded as the world’s most northerly producer of whisky. Founded in 1798, you will have an opportunity to discover why their single malt is considered ‘Best spirit in the World’, with a guided tour of the distillery and a tasting of a ‘peedie dram’. Continuing, head back to Kirkwall to enjoy some time at leisure in this pretty town, which is dominated by the magnificent 12th century, red sandstone Cathedral of St Magnus, known locally as the ‘Light of the North’.

TOUR DESCRIPTION IS CORRECT FOR 2017 CRUISES

Is this tour right for you?

IS THIS TOUR RIGHT FOR YOU? There is a moderate amount of walking involved in this tour, most of which will be over even ground at the distillery. However, there are also stairs to negotiate at the distillery and therefore this tour is not suitable for wheelchair users. The amount of walking undertaken during the period of free time is at the discretion of the individual. Please note that the distillery does not accept guests under the age of 18 years of age. 


Waulkmill bay beach, Scotland

ORKNEY EXPLORATION

  • Appreciate the rugged landscapes of the Orkney Islands
  • Enjoy some of Orkney’s most spectacular scenery
  • This tour is ideal for less mobile guests
Activity Tour
Price£45.00-£55.00
DurationApproximately 3.45 Hours
Walking level 1 - minimal or no walkingMinimal or no walking
Refreshments includedRefreshments included

During this scenic island exploration, you will discover a veritable haven abundant with wildlife, breath taking panoramas and fascinating ancient wonders.

Following the coastal trail, you will enjoy the stunning views across Eynhallow Sound to the island of Rousay – a dramatic stretch of water where the Atlantic Ocean meets the North Sea. Skirting the nearby Birsay Moors Bird Reserve, you head for the sandy beach at Birsay Bay. Here, you will enjoy a short stop for a chance to admire the wild and spectacular 90 metre cliffs at Marwick Head, before heading to a local tearoom for refreshments.

Travelling inland, drive past the great ceremonial stone circle, known as the Ring of Brodgar, and visit the Standing Stones of Stenness. Follow the coast along the First and Second World War Naval Base of Scapa Flow, where you will be told dramatic wartime tales which make this one of the most renowned stretches of water in the world.

TOUR DESCRIPTION IS CORRECT FOR 2017 CRUISES

Is this tour right for you?

 

IS THIS TOUR RIGHT FOR YOU? Walking on this tour is minimal but the terrain can be uneven in places, limiting access for wheelchair users. Guests may choose to remain on the coach at sights if they prefer. As with all flora and fauna, we cannot guarantee what will be seen. Please note that there is no planned comfort stop during this tour, but one can be included if requested with the guide.

 


ORKNEY ISLAND TOUR

  • Appreciate the rugged landscapes
  • Keep your eyes peeled for a variety of bird species
  • Enjoy some of Orkney’s most spectacular scenery
Panoramic Coach Tour
Price£30.00 - £40.00
DurationApproximately 3.75 hours
LimitationLimited capacity
Walking level 1 - minimal or no walkingMinimal or no walking

During this scenic island exploration, discover a veritable haven abundant with fantastic wildlife, breathtaking panoramas and fascinating ancient wonders.

Following the coastal trail, via Finstown and the tiny village of Evie, enjoy the stunning views across Eynhallow Sound to the Island of Rousay. Skirting the nearby Birsay Moors Bird Reserve, you head for the sandy beach at Birsay Bay. From across the bay you will see the wild and spectacular 90 metre cliffs at Marwick Head, another designated bird reserve, which during the nesting season in early summer is home to vast flocks of seabirds, including razorbills and puffins.

Continue to the cliffs of Yesnaby where one of the most dramatic seascapes in Orkney is located - there may also be a chance to see the rare Primula Scotica (Scottish primrose) which blooms only in May and July. Travelling inland, drive past the great ceremonial stone circle, known as the Ring of Brodgar, and visit the Standing Stones of Stenness. Follow the coast along the First and Second World War Naval Base of Scapa Flow, where you will be told dramatic wartime stories which make this one of the most renowned stretches of water in the world.

DESCRIPTION CORRECT FOR 2016 CRUISES

Is this tour right for you?

IS THIS TOUR RIGHT FOR YOU? Walking on this tour is minimal but the terrain can be uneven in places, limiting access for wheelchair users. Guests may choose to remain on the coach at sights if they prefer. As with all flora and fauna, we can not guarantee what will be seen. Please note that there is no planned comfort stop during this tour, but one can be included if requested with the guide.


Steness Stones, Kirkwall, Scotland

ORKNEY TREASURES

  • Explore the beauty of the West Mainland
  • Visit the Standing Stones of Stenness - one of the oldest stone circles in Britain
  • Unearth the history of Skara Brae – a 5,000 year old Neolithic village
Activity Tour
Price£50.00-£60.00
DurationApproximately 4 Hours
Walking level 2 - moderate walkingModerate walking

On this scenic, circular tour, explore the beautiful West Mainland, location of one of the greatest concentrations of pre-historic sites in Great Britain – home to the Heart of Neolithic Orkney UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Passing through an area of rolling hills and moorland, discover the ceremonial stone circles. A brief stop will be made at the Standing Stones of Stenness, followed by a visit to the Ring of Brodgar, a perfect circle with almost half of its original 60 stones still standing.

Next you will arrive at Skara Brae. This Stone Age settlement lay buried under sand for thousands of years, until it was revealed during a fierce storm in 1850. The hardship of life in Skara Brae can be directly contrasted with Orkney’s finest manor house, Skaill House, which is located adjacent to the site and will be your next visit. Having journeyed through ancient Orkney, you will return to Kirkwall via the historic harbour of Scapa Flow, and enjoy stories of dramatic wartime experiences, which make this one of the most renowned stretches of water in the world.

 

TOUR DESCRIPTION IS CORRECT FOR 2017 CRUISES

Is this tour right for you?

IS THIS TOUR RIGHT FOR YOU? In order to preserve Skara Brae the houses are viewed from the outer walls above. The Skara Brae visitors’ centre is suitable for wheelchairs, with a ramped entry; just over half the site is accessible, as is the ground floor of Skaill House. You will walk between Skara Brae and Skaill House, over uneven and gravel terrain; therefore this tour is not recommended for guests with limited mobility. Places may be visited in a different order to that described. 

 


Golden Eagle

ORKNEY WILDLIFE

  • Take the perfect opportunity to view some of Orkney’s wildlife!
  • For nature lovers, this tour will be sure to showcase a fascinating array of birdlife
  • Have your binoculars at the ready 
Activity Tour
Price£60.00-£70.00
DurationApproximately 3 Hours
Walking level 2 - moderate walkingModerate walking

This tour explores the bird habitats of the West Mainland of Orkney. 

Enjoy a scenic drive through the farmland of Orkney, keeping your eyes peeled for birds such as oystercatchers and curlews, en-route to your first stop at a wildfowl hide. Here you will look out for various species, including red throated divers (season dependent).

Next, you will travel onto Marwick Head, where you will embark on a pleasant stroll up to the cliff top to view spectacular cliff bird colonies including gannets and guillemots.

TOUR DESCRIPTION IS CORRECT FOR 2017 CRUISES

Is this tour right for you?

IS THIS TOUR RIGHT FOR YOU? This tour involves a moderate amount of walking over some uneven terrain. You are advised to wear layers of clothing that you can remove if necessary, as even on a bright day you will be open to the elements. A rainproof jacket would be advisable. Wildlife sightings cannot be guaranteed. This tour is not suitable for wheelchair users. The order of the sights visited may be reversed. 

 


churchill Barriers scuppered ships, Kirkwall, Scotland

ORKNEY’S WARTIME HISTORY

  • Discover one of Britain’s most historic stretches of water
  • Appreciate the dramatic war stories linked to this area
  • Visit Ness Battery which has only recently become accessible to the public
Activity Tour Panoramic Coach Tour
Price£60.00-£70.00
DurationApproximately 4 Hours
Walking level 2 - moderate walkingModerate walking

Travel along the picturesque chain of islands south of Mainland Orkney, home to some fascinating vestiges of the First and Second World Wars.

Driving along the coast of the Naval Base of Scapa Flow, whilst listening to dramatic wartime stories about one of the best known stretches of water in the world, will help bring the tales to life. The series of causeways, called the Churchill Barriers, which link the South Isles were originally built from cement blocks to protect the Naval Base in World War II, following the sinking of HMS Royal Oak in 1939. On Lamb Holm, visit the beautifully hand painted Italian Chapel. Known as the ‘Miracle of Camp 60’, this remarkable structure was built by Italian Prisoners during the last World War.

The highlight of the tour will no doubt be the World War II Ness Battery, which played a crucial role in the defence of Scapa Flow. This site is unique in Britain, in that it has not only the original gun emplacements but also the wooden accommodation huts, one of which has a painted mural depicting an English village. 

TOUR DESCRIPTION IS CORRECT FOR 2017 CRUISES

Is this tour right for you?

IS THIS TOUR RIGHT FOR YOU? This tour involves a moderate amount of walking as there will be approximately one hour of walking at Ness Battery. This tour is not suitable for guests in wheelchairs as the tour is operated in a mini coach. Guests may choose to remain on the coach at sites if they prefer. The visit to the Italian Chapel is dependent upon no religious functions taking place – therefore we cannot guarantee an inside visit will be made.

 


Scapa Flow, Kirkwall

SCAPA FLOW PANORAMIC TOUR

  • Discover one of Britain’s most historic stretches of water
  • Appreciate the dramatic war stories linked to this area
  • Enjoy time at leisure in the pretty village of St Margaret’s Hope
Panoramic Coach Tour
Price£35.00 - £45.00
DurationApproximately 3.75 hours
LimitationLimited capacity
Walking level 1 - minimal or no walkingMinimal or no walking
Refreshments includedRefreshments included
Free time includedFree time included

Travel along the picturesque chain of islands south of Mainland Orkney, home to some fascinating vestiges of the First and Second World Wars.

Driving along the coast of the Naval Base of Scapa Flow, whilst listening to dramatic wartime stories about one of the best known stretches of water in the world, will help bring the stories to life. The series of causeways, called the Churchill Barriers, which link the South Isles was originally built from cement blocks to protect the Naval Base in World War II, following the sinking of HMS Royal Oak in 1939. On Lamb Holm, visit the beautifully hand painted Italian Chapel. Known as the ‘Miracle of Camp 60’, this remarkable structure was built by Italian Prisoners during the last World War.

Continue to the Island of South Ronaldsay and on to the pretty village of St Margaret's Hope. Local legend says that the village is named after Margaret, Maid of Norway, who died near here on her way to marry King Edward II of England. Enjoy time at leisure here to explore the Craft Workshop or just wander through the old streets. Turning north, you pause for refreshments at a local hotel, located in a delightful setting overlooking the peaceful harbour of Burray Village.

DESCRIPTION CORRECT FOR 2016 CRUISES

Is this tour right for you?

IS THIS TOUR RIGHT FOR YOU? Walking on this tour is minimal so it is suitable for most guests - wheelchair users may need assistance and all participants must be able to board the coach unaided. You will enjoy free time of approximately 45 minutes at St Margaret’s Hope, where walking is at your own discretion. Guests may choose to remain on the coach at sites if they prefer. The visit to the Italian Chapel is dependent upon no religious functions taking place – therefore we can not guarantee an inside visit will be made.


South Isles Distillery

SOUTH ISLES & DISTILLERY

  • Enjoy a unique visit to the Highland Park Distillery for a ‘peedie dram’
  • Admire the beautifully hand painted Italian Chapel
  • Spend time at leisure in the pretty town of Kirkwall
Activity Tour
Price£40.00 - £50.00
DurationApproximately 3.5 hours
LimitationLimited capacity
Walking level 2 - moderate walkingModerate walking
Free time includedFree time included

A great opportunity to combine a scenic tour to Orkney’s South Isles with some fascinating vestiges of the First and Second World War and a visit to the northern-most whisky distillery in Scotland.

Situated on the outskirts of Kirkwall, the unique Highland Park Distillery is the world’s most northerly producer of whisky. Founded in 1798, you will have an opportunity to discover why their single malt is considered ‘Best spirit in the World’, with a guided tour of the distillery and a tasting of a ‘peedie dram’.

From here, drive along the coast of the Naval Base of Scapa Flow, where you will learn of dramatic wartime stories that make this one of the most famous stretches of water in the world. Travel along the first Churchill Barrier, a causeway that links the Orkney Mainland to the Island of Lamb Holm, where you will visit the beautifully hand painted Italian chapel, built by Italian prisoners during the last World War.

Continuing, head back to Kirkwall to enjoy some time at leisure in this pretty town, which is dominated by the magnificent 12th century, red sandstone Cathedral of St Magnus, known locally as the ‘Light of the North’.

DESCRIPTION CORRECT FOR 2016 CRUISES

Is this tour right for you?

IS THIS TOUR RIGHT FOR YOU? There is a limited amount of walking involved in this tour most of which will be over even ground at the distillery. However, there are also stairs to negotiate at the distillery and therefore this tour is not suitable for wheelchair users. The amount of walking undertaken during the period of free time is at the discretion of the individual. Please note that the distillery has a ‘silent season’ from early July to mid-August – tours during this time will visit the distillery even though the production of whisky has stopped. Please note that the distillery does not accept guests under the age of 18 years of age.


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