8 – 10 Day Outer Hebrides, Isle of Skye, Orkney, Shetland & Highlands Tour
A Grand Scottish Islands tour from Edinburgh through the Highlands to the Outer Hebrides, the Isle of Skye, Orkney and Shetland over eight to ten days.
Day 1 - Departing from Edinburgh we travel north over the Firth of Forth towards the Central Highlands. We explore the beautiful village of Dunkeld and its historic ruined cathedral before our drive northwards takes us to the Cairngorms National Park. Arriving near Inverness by the mid-afternoon, we visit Culloden Battlefield and the Clava Cairns before our overnight stop.
Day 2 - An early start from Inverness to the coastal village of Ullapool where we board the ferry for a 2½ hour journey across the Minch to the Isle of Lewis and its main town of Stornoway (my native town). From there we spend the afternoon exploring the magnificent Neolithic Callanish Standing Stones, the 2000 year old Dun Carloway Broch and a traditional Hebridean blackhouse. We end the day at the Butt of Lewis, the most northerly point in the Outer Hebrides before our return to Stornoway for our overnight stay.
Day 3 - Departing from Stornoway we head south to the Isle of Harris. The drive along the Atlantic coastline of Harris includes the stunning beach at Luskentyre. We visit Rodel to explore the beautiful medieval St Clement’s church, home to one of Scotland's most remarkable 16th century tombs. The late afternoon takes us back to Tarbert for a 1¾ hour ferry journey across to the Isle of Skye. Arriving in Uig it is just a short drive to Portree for our overnight stay.
Day 4 - A day exploring the dramatic scenery of the Isle of Skye begins with the Trotternish peninsula for stunning views of the Old Man of Storr and Kilt Rock before we drive up the old cattle pass to the experience the breath-taking views from the Quiraing. The early afternoon is spent at Dunvegan Castle, home of the Clan MacLeod before we head to the dramatic Cuillin mountains. Crossing the bridge to the Scottish mainland where we savour a distance view of Eilean Donan Castle before our return to Inverness for our overnight stop.
Day 5 - Our longest day as we depart from Inverness on a morning drive to the far North of Scotland and our ferry port of Scrabster, near Thurso. The drive north covers wonderful coastal scenery and normally takes around 3-4 hours including photo stops and a brief visit to the historic town of Dornoch. Our 1½ hour ferry journey includes a great view of the Old Man of Hoy before our arrival in Orkney where we visit the 5000 year old village settlement of Skara Brae and the nearby Neolithic standing stones of the Ring of Brodgar. After an evening meal in Kirkwall we catch the late ferry (11pm) from Kirkwall for an overnight sailing to Lerwick in the Shetland Islands.
Day 6 - After a leisurely breakfast on the ferry we depart Lerwick to spend the day exploring the south mainland of Shetland. Sumburgh Head is our first stop - a stunning viewpoint and a haven for seabirds. Next is Jarlshof Prehistoric and Norse settlement which spans over four thousand years. After lunch at the Sumburgh Hotel, the afternoon takes us on a beautiful coastal drive to the breath-taking St Ninian's Isle where you can hike across the sands to the island. Returning north we end the day at the two thousand year old Clickimin Broch before our overnight stay in Lerwick.
Day 7 - Departing from Lerwick we head towards the north Shetland mainland. Arriving at Eshaness we take time to savour the dramatic cliffs and sea stacks that the fantastic coastal landscape of Shetland presents to us from this headland. After lunch at Busta House Hotel, the afternoon takes us to the ruins of Scalloway Castle before we return to Lerwick. Here we explore the Shetland Museum and Fort Charlotte before ending our time in Shetland with a meander through Lerwick town and harbour. In the late afternoon we board the ferry from Lerwick for an overnight sailing to Aberdeen on the Scottish mainland.
Day 8 - Arriving into Aberdeen harbour in the early morning, we enjoy a leisurely breakfast on the ferry before heading south to explore the ancient ruins of Dunnottar Castle near Stonehaven. The early afternoon takes us south to the Kingdom of Fife where we explore the historic town of St Andrews before our arrival into Edinburgh in the late afternoon and the end of our Scottish Islands Adventure!
Tour option - Add an extra day in the Hebrides
Should you wish more time to explore the Outer Hebrides and Isle of Skye then we would recommend an additional day in the Hebrides. This option would allow for more time exploring around Stornoway (including the Lewis Chessmen) along with additional sites throughout Lewis and Harris, and slightly more time on the Isle of Skye. With this option there would be an additional overnight stay in Stornoway. Tour option surcharge – £450 per tour.
Tour option - Add an extra day on Orkney
The standard tour is ideal for those that may have already visited Orkney – with a half day on the Orkney mainland during our travels north to Shetland. However, for those looking for more time in Orkney (and there is lots to explore) we can add an additional day on Orkney to discover more of its stunning neolithic treasures. With this option there would be an overnight stay in Kirkwall. Tour option surcharge – £450 per tour.
Private Tour Price (per tour)
8 Day – May to September: £4650
+ £95 per person ferry tickets
The 8 Day tour is available on Wedneday start days from Edinburgh.
The 9 or 10 Day tour is available on Monday start days from Edinburgh.