Orkney & Shetland Odyssey

On this magical walking holiday, you will explore both the Orkney- and the Shetland Islands. These unique and culturally rich islands where the influence of the sea dominates and the remains of its rich cultural history are never too far away

With over 150 islands between Orkney and Shetland, of which over 30 are inhabited, the scope to explore and experience these unique and contrasting groups of islands is incredible. Both islands were once part of the Viking kingdom and offer a fascinating weave of dramatic seascapes, and unique geology dating back to when they were a mountainous region of the Scottish and Scandinavian pre-Ice Age continent.

We start our journey on Orkney and take a cliff-top walk on Hoy, the wildest and highest of the islands, overlooking the famous sea-stack of the Old Man of Hoy. No visit to Orkney is complete without visiting the Neolithic village of Skara Brae and the Ring of Brodgar which forms part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site.

A relaxed overnight ferry crossing brings us to Shetland. On the 'Mainland' we climb Ronas Hill, at 450m the highest point on the Shetland Isles. This walk incorporates unique geology and rare alpine plants with stunning views over the western seaboard. We will visit Sumbourgh Head and the Stevenson Lighthouse which is one of the finest examples of 19th-century architecture.

Both islands host an incredible array of birdlife, which includes puffins, short-eared owls and hen harriers. The abundance of seascapes affords us the chance to see seals, porpoises, dolphins and even whales.

Most of the walking is along grassy swards high above the sea with occasional descents to wide, sweeping beaches.


  • Exciting historical and cultural journey through the Northern Isles
  • Visits to the Neolithic village of Skara Brae and the famous Old Man of Hoy
  • Hike to Sumburgh Head and the Stevenson lighthouse
  • Experience the fabulous flora and fauna of these stunning islands

At a Glance

From £1,575 per person
Single room: from £200 for 8 nights. Please contact us for the price of a single cabin on the overnight ferries (2 nights).

Moderate +
Accommodation4 nights hotel, 4 nights guesthouse, 2 nights overnight ferry
Duration11 days
LocationNorthern Isles
StartInverness Station @ 14.30
FinishInverness Station @ 12.00

Route Map

View Orkney & Shetland Explorer in a larger map

Book your Trip

At a Glance

From £1,575 per person
Single room: from £200 for 8 nights. Please contact us for the price of a single cabin on the overnight ferries (2 nights).

Moderate +
Accommodation4 nights hotel, 4 nights guesthouse, 2 nights overnight ferry
Duration11 days
LocationNorthern Isles
StartInverness Station @ 14.30
FinishInverness Station @ 12.00

Orkney & Shetland Odyssey

11 days | AVAILABLE | Ref: OSE0121

05 May 2021 · £1675


Orkney & Shetland Odyssey

11 days | AVAILABLE | Ref: OSE0221

01 September 2021 · £1675



The itinerary for each day’s walk is given below however; alternative walks may be undertaken depending upon the weather and group fitness.  On such a day, the leader will carefully choose an alternative guided by the group interest.

Day 1 – Travel to Orkney and Kirkwall

Your North West Frontiers guide will meet you at Inverness Rail Station at 14.30. We will then drive to Scrabster by minibus, taking the ferry to Stromness and then transferring to our hotel in Kirkwall.
| overnight Orkney (Kirkwall)

Day 2 – West Mainland & Skara Brae

5000-year-old Skara Brae is one of the best-preserved Neolithic villages in Europe. After exploring Scara Brae we take a long but easy walk southwards. During this coastal walk, we pass by Yesnaby fort and North Gaulton castle arriving in Stromness. At the end of our walk, you will have some time to spend in the pretty town of Stromness before returning to Kirkwall.
| 13km, ascent: 80 metres | overnight Orkney (Kirkwall)

Day 3 – The Old Man of Hoy

Hoy is the most dramatic of Orkneys islands, a mountainous land rising to 1570 feet. After a short ferry ride and transfer, we take a clifftop path with spectacular views of the 450 feet tall sea-stack – the Old Man of Hoy. From here, there are several excellent walking options northwards or southwards, and the choice will be dependent on group fitness and interest.
| 14km, ascent 320 metres | overnight Orkney (Kirkwall)

Day 4 – Deerness & Scapa Flow

Today we explore the peninsula of Deerness, the easternmost part of the Orkney mainland. We walk to the Convenanters’ Memorial and follow the coast around Mull Head, to the Brough of Deerness and The Gloup; an impressive collapsed sea cave that makes strange gurgling noises! Back in Kirkwall, you have time to visit the impressive St Magnus Cathedral & Tankerness House, home of the Orkney Museum.
| 10km, ascent 50 metres | overnight Orkney (Kirkwall)

Day 5 – Rousay & transfer to Shetland

This is transfer day but first we visit the Island of Rousay; also called “The Egypt of the North” due to its archaeological diversity and importance. We follow the Westness walk; a short coastal path covering thousands of years of history. In the afternoon we will visit the beautiful gardens of Trumland House. After dinner the group will catch the overnight ferry to Lerwick, Shetland.
| 9km, ascent 160 metres | overnight ferry

Day 6 – Lunna

Today you get the chance to gain insight into how the Shetland Isles were a strategic part of World War 2.  Lunna House in Lunna was the heart of the Shetland Bus operation during the 2nd World War. Discover the collaboration between the Royal Navy, the Shetland fishing fleet and the Norwegian resistance.  Today’s walk leads over the green rolling headland overlooking the North Sea then visit Scalloway, the ancient capital of Shetland.
| 11km, ascent 200 metres | overnight Shetland (Lerwick)

Day 7 – St Ronas

Ronas Hill is the highest point of the Shetland Isles (1475 ft). Our walk will incorporate unique geology, rare alpine plants and stunning views over the Western seaboard. There is also a Neolithic chambered cairn on the summit.
| 13km, ascent 400 metres | overnight Shetland (Lerwick)

Day 8 – Sumborough Head

Let’s go back in time! First, we visit Sumborough head in South Shetland to see the Stevenson lighthouse, which is one of the finest examples of 19th-century architecture. While visiting the lighthouse, you get the opportunity to view the resident puffin colony nesting here. We then visit the island of Mousa and the famous Iron Age Broch tower. Brochs are unique to northern Scotland, and this one is the only fully intact Broch left in Scotland.
| 13km, ascent 80 metres | overnight Shetland (Lerwick)

Day 9 – Fethaland

Fethaland is the most northerly point of Shetland Mainland and an area of outstanding beauty. The site of Fethaland has been inhabited since prehistoric times; however, since the 15th century, the area has been used as a fishing station. Discover what Sixateens are and how the fishermen fished an area called the haaf.
| 13km, ascent 120 metres | overnight Shetland (Lerwick)

Day 10 – Whalsay & Depart Lerwick

Before we depart from Shetland, we visit the island of Whalsay. Whalsay is a prosperous small island which has its roots in the fishing industry, although its history stretches back over 4,000 years. Along with beautiful flora and birdlife, this is a great way to round off your holiday. Late afternoon, we will board the overnight ferry back to Aberdeen.
| overnight ferry

Day 11 – Arrive

After a relaxed journey on the overnight ferry from Lerwick, we arrive in Aberdeen at around 07.00 in the morning. After disembarking the ferry, your NWF leader will transfer you back to Inverness. Approximate journey time is 2.30 hours. It is also possible to travel back home from Aberdeen.

What's Included


  • 8 nights bed and breakfast in comfortable hotel and guesthouse
  • 2 x night cabin accommodation on overnight ferry
  • 8 x dinner (days 2 to 9)
  • 9 days walking with a qualified and experienced NWF leader
  • All road transport during the trip
  • All boat/ferry costs during the trip (Incl.to and from Inverness)
  • Entree to Skara Brae

If you prefer to fly to Kirkwall, you will meet your guide and fellow group members in the hotel lounge at around 21:30. In case you fly you will have to make your own way from the airport to your hotel (a taxi costs around £10).

Instead of taking the overnight ferry it is possible to fly back from Lerwick. In that case you will have to make your own way to the airport in Sumburgh. There is a good bus service between Lerwick and the airport.

Please contact us if you prefer to fly, so we can deduct the ferry cost from your holiday price.


  • Travel to and from Inverness
  • Meals (dinner & breakfast) on ferry crossings
  • (Packed) lunches
  • Travel insurance
  • Miscellaneous expenses like drinks, entrance fees etc