Shetland and Orkney
Maximum ten guests plus leader from our resident team. Join us at Aberdeen Airport, or travel with us by minibus from Nethy Bridge.
Join Heatherlea on this fabulous holiday as we explore the most northerly parts of Britain. We start in Shetland, move onto Orkney, and witness some of the most impressive scenery and wildlife in the country as well as indulging in the culture, history and archaeology of these ancient lands. A fantastic experience in the long northern summer. We visit large seabird colonies, show you Red-necked Phalarope and Storm Petrel up-close at their breeding sites, watch Otter and seals, and have a chance of cetaceans such as Orca and Minke Whale. There is a good chance of rarities such as King Eider or Marsh Warbler, and we make the most of the long daylight hours available in the ‘Land Of The Simmer Dim’ to enjoy the fabulous scenery, history and archaeology all around.
Day 1 Sat 22 June
We fly Aberdeen – Sumburgh and transfer to our comfortable base. We explore south Mainland, including a seawatch at Sumburgh Head where we hope to see Puffins, other seabirds, and have a chance of Minke Whale, Harbour Porpoise and White-beaked Dolphin, or possibly even an Orca. A visit to Loch of Spiggie and Loch of Hillwell should produce Red-throated Diver and skuas, breeding Whimbrel and Curlew, ‘real’ Rock Dove, Black Guillemot (known as ‘Tysties’ in these parts). Shetland Wren can also be expected. If the weather allows, we make a late evening visit to the Storm Petrel colony at the broch on the island of Mousa, for a naturally spectacular sight and sound show!
Day 2 Sun 23 June
Birding around mainland Shetland and then ferries again to reach the northernmost part of Britain on Unst, which will be our base for the next three days.
Day 3 Mon 24 June
We take the ferry to Fetlar, where we spend the rest of the day. We will have topped up our list with seabirds on the crossings and at the ferry terminals, but the main delights are on Fetlar itself. Here good numbers of dainty Red-necked Phalarope can be seen at really close quarters, and Red-throated Diver, Whimbrel, Golden Plover, Great Skua, Arctic Skua and Twite breed. We have a good chance of Otter along the shoreline too.
Day 4 Tues 25 June
Today we visit the renowned Hermaness reserve and seabird colonies. A walk through the world’s second largest Great Skua colony takes us to the northernmost cliffs of the British Isles. From the 400ft high cliffs, we overlook the lighthouse of Muckle Flugga and around 140,000 breeding seabirds!
Day 5 Wed 26 June
We leave our base on Unst and travel south taking in more of northern Shetland mainland on the way. We will search some of the many shorelines for Otters, visit several migrant hotspots and catch up with breeding Whimbrel and other waders. We also have another chance to visit Mousa if the weather was unsuitable on Saturday.
Day 6 Thurs 27 June
Today we explore more of the south mainland searching for rarities or anything we might have missed. A visit to Sumburgh Head should produce more seabirds including Puffin, other auks and more skuas. We will check the shorelines for passage waders and gulls and visit some of the freshwater lochs in search of wildfowl. We also hope to allow time to visit the superb archaeological site of Jarlshof.
Day 7 Fri 28 June
Our final day on Shetland. We explore more of north western mainland searching for rarities or anything we might have missed before we catch our late afternoon ferry from Lerwick. Birding from the decks in the ‘Simmer Dim’, we arrive in the Orcadian capital, Kirkwall, late on Friday night before transferring to our hotel.
Day 8 Sat 29 June
We explore Orkney, visiting spots where anything can happen! Hen Harrier and Short-eared Owl quarter the fields and moorlands in search of Orkney Vole, and Peregrine and Merlin hunt along the meadow fringes. Eight species of duck, including the locally uncommon Shoveler and Pintail, a similar number of waders, including the ubiquitous Snipe, Water Rail, and Greylag Goose can be found on inland pools. We will visit some of the finest prehistoric archaeological sites in Britain. The six-metre high Standing Stones of Stenness and the 27 out of 60 stones that remain of the 5000 year old Ring of Brodgar, are close to our hotel. The settlement of Skara Brae is of course a 'must-see' whilst on Orkney. We also visit Maes Howe, considered to be one of the finest architectural achievements of prehistoric Europe, and one of Orkney’s largest and finest chambered cairns. We continue to search for wildlife around Orkney, visiting seabird cliffs to see auks and skuas, and more breeding waders, divers and ducks inland, as well as having a good chance of Mountain Hare, both Common and Grey Seal and Otter.
Day 9 Sun 30 June
Before our evening flight from Kirkwall to Aberdeen, we pass Scapa Flow, scene of First World War naval tribulations, the Churchill barriers, erected to protect Britain during the Second World War, and the Italian Chapel, built by POWs during the war. We also visit the Tomb of the Eagles, another 5000 year old burial site where we can literally feel the past, as we explore both the archaeology and wildlife on the island of South Ronaldsay, and round-up any rarities en route to the airport.
Field Notes Expect a wide variation in weather conditions. Blazing sunshine, rain and strong winds are all possible, and you will probably experience a bit of everything. Biting insects not expected. Please bring walking boots or shoes, weatherproof clothing and a small rucksack.
What's included in your Shetland & Orkney holiday price
- Eight nights comfortable en-suite hotel accommodation. We choose hotels from our personally inspected shortlist, where birders are welcome and the hospitality is special. Guests are never expected to share. Full details with your joining pack. Rooms are en-suite, with TV and hospitality tray.
- Full Scottish breakfast and dinner from Sunday evening til Monday morning, packed lunch daily.
- All transfers by comfortable minibus. All ferries and other boat trips. Drivers can leave vehicles safely parked at The Mountview Hotel.
- Guidance from a professional Group Leader.
What's not included in your Shetland & Orkney holiday price
- Extra night in Nethybridge area at beginning and end of holiday. This can be arranged for you if requested at time of holiday booking. Price £45 per person B&B.
- Insurance, drinks and other items of a personal nature.
- Flights outwards from Aberdeen to Lerwick, and return from Kirkwall to Aberdeen. We will organise flights for you, the cost of this flight in 2012 was around £160
- Car parking at Aberdeen airport if you join us there.