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  • Stenness standing stones

  • Skara Brae

  • Puffins

  • Scottish Primrose

    © Peter Exley

  • Ring of Brodgar

  • Mariwck Head

Fitness / Practicalities
Tour Director

  • Survey the spectacular archaeological treasures of the Orkney Islands, whose Neolithic monuments are a UNESCO World Heritage site

  • Take ferries over to Rousay and other islands for an introduction to life in the extreme north of Britain

  • Enjoy the special Orcadian flora and fauna, from marine mammals and seabird ‘cities’ to the rare and delightful Scottish primrose

“Extremely well organised… Having two experienced guides with impressive expertise in different fields worked very well… It was a terrific tour”

- ACE customer on a previous Wild & Ancient Orkney tour led by Peter Exley and Andrew Wilson

Separated from the Scottish mainland by the stormy Pentland Firth, the Orkney Islands bristle with Neolithic treasures: chambered cairns, ceremonial stone circles and one of Europe’s most remarkable early villages.

This tour encompasses the whole range of the islands’ history, from prehistory at Skara Brae, through the Pictish and Norse periods, to 20th century events associated with Scapa Flow, which has been one of the great natural anchorages of the world since Viking times. Poetry, sagas and music will also feature during our travels, giving added resonance to these magnificent landscapes and seascapes. Much of the tour will be on the ‘Mainland’, but we will also enjoy the opportunity to take small ferries over to Rousay and other islands, visiting fishing and crofting settlements to meet locals and begin to understand some of the challenges of island life in the extreme north of Britain.

We will also be privileged to survey the unique and special Orcadian wildlife. The waters around the islands are rich in marine life, supporting grey and common seals, cetaceans, and teeming seabird ‘cities’ of fulmars, kittiwakes, puffins and guillemots. Inland, rich moorland and farmland are home to curlews and oystercatchers, as well as majestic birds of prey such as the rare hen harrier and short-eared owl. They are also home to one of the UK’s few endemic plants, the rare and delightful Scottish primrose.

We will stay throughout at the three-star Orkney Hotel in Kirkwall, a comfortable hotel occupying a 17th century building located just minutes from St Magnus Cathedral, the Earl’s Palace and Bishop’s Palace. The hotel offers its own restaurant and meeting room and is conveniently located for our visits in Kirkwall. 


Wildlife sightings on our 2023 tour
“We had some very good wildlife viewings – a close flyby of a hen harrier on Rousay; views of puffins, gannets, guillemots, shags and seals; and an exciting moment when we saw a group of more than eight Risso’s dolphins passing below us on Brough of Birsay. The Scottish primrose was in flower and enjoyed by all, together with plenty of other good flowers.”

- Tour Director Peter Exley


This tour will be led by Andrew Wilson, BA, BD, FSAScot, and Peter Exley, BSc. Andrew is an archaeologist and historian with a particular interest in his native Scotland, and member of the Pictish Arts Society. Peter is a conservationist and naturalist who works for the RSPB and has a strong interest in interpreting man’s influence on our landscapes. Peter will introduce us to Orkney’s remarkable birds, plants and marine life, as well as exploring their ecology and conservation.

Tour Code
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