Scotland - Orkney & Shetland

Scotland - Orkney & Shetland

16th May 2020 - 28th May 2020 (13 days)

Place for a male to share

This tour will give you a flavour of the Orkney and Shetland Islands, which are quite different from each other and from mainland Scotland. Starting from Aberdeen we take the ferry to Orkney and stay at Kirkwall for three nights where we'll visit several of the northern islands. We then take the overnight ferry to Shetland where we stay for seven nights. First we cycle south, visiting Mousa broch on the way to the most southerly point at Sumburgh Head. The route from here to Unst, the most northerly island, has been split over several days so that we can take a less direct route using more minor roads. From Unst we cycle back to Lerwick for the overnight ferry to Aberdeen. Staying in hotels with breakfast included, with luggage transferred between hotels.

  • Holiday Type Guided
  • Tour Manager Martin Jamieson
  • Grade Challenging
  • Booking Status Places Available
  • Accommodation Hotel
  • Board Basis B&B
  • Travel Arrangements Ferry
  • Road / Off Road Road
  • Holiday Style Moving-on
  • Vehicle Support Luggage Transfer
  • Holiday Ref 03430


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Scotland - Orkney & Shetland

Saturday 16th May

We meet at Aberdeen ferry terminal at 1530 for the 1700 Northlink ferry to Orkney (Kirkwall) arriving at 2300. Stay 3 nights. Meals: None

Sunday 17th May

Today's flat out-and-back ride goes south on the mainland, over the Churchill Barriers, to visit the magnificent Italian Chapel. There is the option to continue south to the Tomb of the Eagles at the south end of South Ronaldsay. 43 miles. Meals: B

Monday 18th May

Today we cycle west along the mainly flat coast of the mainland and then turn north to Tingwall, where we board the ferry for the 2-mile crossing to the island of Rousay. We'll have time to look around before catching the ferry back to the mainland. There are some 166 archaeological sites here, but we don't propose to visit them all! 30 miles. Meals: B

Tuesday 19th May

We meet at the pier at 0720 for the 0740 sailing to Eday and Sanday, returning to Kirkwall at 1100. This is a round trip which unfortunately doesn't allow time to disembark at either island. In the afternoon we'll cycle east to the beautiful sandy St Peter’s Bay (optional swim) and on to Skaill. We need to be at the ferry terminal by 2300 for the 2345 Northlink overnight ferry to Shetland (Lerwick). 26 miles. Meals: B

Wednesday 20th May

The ferry arrives at 0730, and following breakfast on the ferry we'll cycle south through the centre of Lerwick and out of town. Weather permitting we'll take the small ferry to the island of Mousa and visit the broch. It really is the big daddy of brochs, the tallest and most intact broch in Europe, and you can go inside and climb to the very top. We also have time for a walk round the island before catching the ferry back. We then continue to Sumburgh at the far south of the mainland for our overnight. 27 miles (2,333ft total ascent). Stay 2 nights. Meals: B

Thursday 21st May

Today we have a short circular ride. We'll visit the Croft House Museum to see a mid-19th century croft where the husband usually went to sea leaving his wife and children to tend the croft. Then on to Sumburgh Head where we should be in perfect time to see lots of puffins on their nests. They are just so comical, and you can get quite close to their cliff top burrows. There is also a large visitor centre with a cafe, which is likely to be our lunch stop. In the afternoon we'll visit the prehistoric archaeological site of Jarlshof. This represents thousands of years of human occupation and includes buildings constructed in the Bronze and Iron Ages. It is also the largest Viking Age site in Britain. 12 miles. Meals: B

Friday 22nd May

Today we begin our journey north, cycling up the west coast past Spiggie Loch and Spiggie beach. The beach is well worth a visit on a nice day. A little further north we come to St Ninian's Isle, which is connected to the mainland by the largest tombolo (natural sand causeway) in the UK. We then continue north, finally working our way up the coast to Brae for our overnight. 61 miles (4,803ft total ascent). Stay 2 nights. Meals: B

Saturday 23rd May

A circular ride west to the Eshaness lighthouse and the spectacular cliffs that are the remains of the long extinct Shetland volcano. Nearby is the island of Dore Holm (shaped like a horse drinking water), and we'll continue to Stenness to get the best view of this. This is a more relaxed and shorter day in the middle of two longer days. 36 miles. Meals: B

Sunday 24th May

Continuing north, we take a ferry to the island of Yell and then another ferry to Unst, the most northern of the Shetland Islands, and on to our overnight at Baltasound. 45 miles. Stay 2 nights. Meals: B

Monday 25th May

Today we visit the most northerly parts of Unst. We cycle in a loop via Haroldswick where there is a Norse longboat and Britain's most northerly inhabited house at Skaw. There is an optional hilly ride to Hermaness National Nature Reserve, with views to Muckle Flugga. (Don't you just love that name!) You are welcome to stay longer at any of the places we visit, as the route back to Baltasound is easy to navigate. 18 miles. Meals: B

Tuesday 26th May

Today we start the return journey south, detouring through pretty Westing on Unst. On Yell we'll take the west coast road and maybe visit the beautiful sandy beach at West Sandwick, plus the viewpoint at West Yell on the way to our overnight at Brae. 45 miles. Stay 1 night. Meals: B

Wednesday 27th May

Today we retrace parts of Friday's route. With less distance to cycle there is time to visit the fabulous cafe at the Bonhoga Gallery near Weisdale, and then Scalloway on the west coast, and still have time left to spend in Lerwick. We need to be at the ferry terminal by 1600 for the 1730 Northlink overnight ferry to Aberdeen. 38 miles. Meals: B

Thursday 28th May

We arrive at Aberdeen at 0700, and the bikes need to be removed from the car deck and left in the terminal building before re-boarding the ferry for breakfast. Meals: B

Meals: B = Breakfast

Accommodation & Meals

Staying in hotels, three rated 3-star and two 4-star, sharing two to a room. No single occupancy is available. All breakfasts are included. Two nights are spent on the Northlink ferry sharing a two-berth cabin, continental breakfast included, but you can purchase a cooked breakfast if you wish. Dinners are not included, but as we are often staying in rural hotels we will mostly be eating there. Vegetarian meals will be available if indicated on the Booking Form.

Vehicle Support

There will be a vehicle to transfer luggage between the hotels. However, should it need to be used for medical or mechanical problems, you should be able and willing to transport your own panniers.

Travel Insurance

Obtaining travel insurance is optional for UK residents, as your Cycling UK membership provides third party cover. However, this does not cover any other risks such as cancellation charges, personal injury or lost property. We therefore strongly recommend that suitable insurance is taken out to safeguard against such risks. Members who do not reside in the UK are not covered for third party and are advised to obtain suitable cover before leaving their normal residence. If you already have an annual policy, you may need to confirm that it will cover a UK holiday or make provision for it to do so.


The price of £1,385 is based on a minimum number of 8 people taking part in the holiday. If there are insufficient bookings by 7th March 2020, we will contact you and return all monies paid, although in certain circumstances the holiday may still run at below minimum numbers but at the same price. 

Price Includes

  • 10 nights hotel, sharing room
  • 2 nights ferry, sharing 2-berth cabin
  • 12 breakfasts
  • Luggage transfer between hotels
  • Other ferries as detailed in the Itinerary
  • Admission to the Italian Chapel, Mousa broch, Croft House Museum, Sumburgh Head Visitor Centre and Jarlshof
  • CTC Cycling Holidays & Tours costs

Price Does Not Include

  • Travel to and from Aberdeen
  • Dinner
  • Lunches or refreshments during the day
  • Any other personal expenses
  • Entry fees at any other attractions visited
  • Travel Insurance

Payment Schedule

A deposit of £200 per person is payable upon booking, with the final balance of £1,185 per person to be paid ten weeks prior to departure, by 7th March 2020.


Should you be forced to cancel your booking for any reason you must notify us in writing. Cancellation charges are as follows:

Written notice received:

Before 7th March 2020

From 7th March 2020 through to departure


Cancellation charge:

Deposit (£200)

100% (£1,385)


Accommodation & Meals

On most days we'll stop at a cafe for a light lunch.


There is a frequent train service to Aberdeen, and the ferry terminal is close to the station.

Group Information

The maximum number of participants will be 22 excluding the Tour Manager(s).

Weather & Clothing

The weather in Orkney and Shetland can be quite variable. In recent years there has been dry and often sunny weather. However, we are going quite far north, so warm clothing and waterproofs are essential - as well as sunscreen.

Cycles & Equipment

A touring cycle, hybrid or lightweight ATB is suitable for this tour. You should ensure your cycle is well maintained, paying particular attention to wheels, tyres and brakes. A low bottom gear (e.g. small chainring the same size or smaller than the largest cog on your rear wheel) is recommended. If you are unsure about gears, please discuss with the Tour Manager. Mudguards are optional but show courtesy to those who are following you in wet weather. Lights are recommended but might not prove essential. New tyres are recommended of at least 28mm diameter. Participants will be expected to carry each day sufficient spares and tools to deal with punctures and minor repairs. Helmets are your personal choice.

Maps & Guides

Daily route mapswill be provided in GPX format.The Philip's Red Books Leisure and Tourist Map Orkney and Shetland (1:160000) also covers our route through the islands.