Northern Delights
4 to 11 June 2017
A cruise to Orkney and Shetland
Abundant wildlife, rich archaeology, traditional music, intricate craftwork and breath-taking scenery are just some of the draws of Scotland's Northern Isles. With their Viking heritage and strong links to Norway, Orkney and Shetland have unique cultural identities. This itinerary explores two islands in each archipelago, the remote St Kilda and the northeast corner of mainland Scotland.
Sunday 4 June:
Depart from Leith
Monday 5 June:
Hoy, Orkney

Hoy has as a spectacular western coastline with dramatic cliffs and famous sea stack, the Old Man of Hoy. To the east lies Scapa Flow, the main British naval base during both world wars. The vast majority of Hoy is a designated Important Bird Area. Other highlights include the Arts and Crafts-era Melsetter House, Rackwick Valley and Hackness Martello Tower.

Tuesday 6 June:
Kirkwall, Orkney

Kirkwall is Orkney's capital and situated on the Mainland, home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney, which includes Skara Brae and the Ring of Brodgar. More recent history can be seen at the Churchill Barriers and Ness Battery as well as at the Italian Chapel on the island of Lamb Holm. Nature lovers are drawn to Orkney because of the profusion of birds and marine wildlife.

Wednesday 7 June:
St Kilda

The St Kilda archipelago is the most westerly part of the British Isles. It is one of only 32 dual World Heritage Sites worldwide, in recognition of its immense cultural and natural significance. It is home to one of the largest colonies of seabirds in northern Europe, including nearly a quarter of the world's population of northern gannets. If weather and sea conditions are favourable we will come ashore at Village Bay on Hirta, the largest of the islands.

Thursday 8 June:
Fetlar, Shetland

Known as the Garden of Shetland, Fetlar's moorland, hills and wetlands provide a home for a host of wading birds and it's the best place in Britain to see the red-necked phalarope. The small island has a strong cultural identity, expressed through its folklore and music. Some of Fetlar's fiddle tunes are amongst the oldest in Shetland and legend tells that they were learned from the trows (little people who live in small hills).

Friday 9 June:
Lerwick, Shetland

The capital of the Shetland Islands began life as a temporary settlement for the Dutch herring fleet in the 17th century. There is much to see in the town including an Iron Age broch, the 18th-century lodberries (merchants' houses with their own piers) and the Shetland Museum. Excursions will take us to Jarlshof, the broch of Mousa, St Ninian's Isle and the bird cliffs at Sumburgh Head.

Saturday 10 June:
Peterhead, Aberdeenshire

This bustling fishing port provides a gateway to Aberdeenshire, Scotland's 'Castle Country'. With over 300 castles, stately homes and ruins dotting the landscape, there are more castles per acre here than anywhere else in the UK. These include the National Trust for Scotland's Fyvie Castle, Castle Fraser and Craigievar Castle. On its northern coastline we find the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses, the village of Pennan and Duff House.

Sunday 11 June:
Return to Leith